Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 3) Leagues of Shadows (Rebirth) by James Tynion IV

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“She is Cassandra Cain. She is Orphan. And she knows that ghosts are very real.”

— James Tynion IV, Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 3) League of Shadows

    If I had to bet money on the Batman-related Rebirth series that would thrive first between James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics run and Tom King’s Batman run, I would’ve thought Tynion IV was on track to delivering the better content. While his run is still highly entertaining and generally much more intriguing than what Tom King has to offer, there just seems to be roof that his run can’t seem to burst out off in order to place a mind-blowing story arc out in the market. Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 3) League of Shadows is the third main story arc by James Tynion IV within the Rebirth era. Collecting issues #950 to #956, the story explores one of the most well-known group of villains within the Batman universe: the league of shadows. Unfortunately, this secret organization remains a myth to the eyes of most individuals until now. Presenting us a rabid introduction of the league of shadows, James Tynion IV also places Cassandra Cain, also known as Orphan, at center stage and dives into her origin story with sheer brutality.

 

 

    Giving Orphan a voice was probably the best story-telling decision in this arc. For those of you who don’t already know, Orphan is not exactly a character that says a lot. Most of her dialogues are just a word or two long. To compensate for her lack of communication, she’s a natural dancing assassin. Every single one of her takedowns are lethal and merciless. This volume explores her personality as well as her way of life as her origin comes hunting her through a villain who matches, if not outdo, Orphan’s own viciousness: Shiva. The introduction of this Big Bad villain was pretty well done and conveys that urgent threat that is sure to come soaring into Gotham. There’s also a certain war for power that seems to surge within Shiva and one of Batman’s greatest villain, but its inclusion never felt quite poignant. In fact, after the first two issues, the story started to become very stale and uninteresting. The major problem that is presented is the Dark Knight being blackmailed for the death of an important individual and leaves everything on territory a bit less uncharted. Furthermore, Shiva’s end goal became a massive blur and I just couldn’t understand what exactly she wanted or why. That made her final moments a little less impressive, that’s for sure.

    What really stood out from this volume is the artwork, and not in a good way. One thing I really hate is the change of style from one issue to another, especially when there doesn’t seem to be any effort put into cohesion or transition. The first issue had the strongest artwork with Marcio Takara as the artist. Then the job shifted into the hands of Christian Duce for two consecutive issues. You’d think that things would quickly find consistency after that, but all we get is a hectic division of labour. With Christian Duce and Fernando Blanco sharing artwork duty and finally a return of Marcio Takara as lead artist for the final three issues. When the artwork becomes such an evident flaw throughout the story, you know something is wrong and that all you’ll get from it is a an obstacle that will hinder the experience of the reader. For me, the decline in quality that often arose throughout some of the later issues made me dislike the stagnant story-telling that was slowly floating to the top of this story arc.

 

 

    The artwork wasn’t this volumes forte and the story-telling felt a bit messy with multiple subplots and a rather incoherent main plot, but things don’t really find a balance with the characters either. The highlight definitely remains Orphan as James Tynion IV explores her past and her identity crisis throughout this volume. The arrival of Shiva launches Orphan on an even more complicated path as she tries to understand why Shiva does what she does. I did however enjoy all the analogies and development that was put into Cassandra Cain’s character. Unfortunately, while she does start and end strong, there still seemed to be some very hazy and blunt moments regarding her character in the middle. Nothing however compares to how atypical Batman seemed throughout this story arc. In fact, Batman never seemed to be any steps ahead of anything. He was lost and everyone managed to surprise him in ways that only Batman should be able to do. The only upside I saw from his character was his psychological support for Cassandra Cain, but sometimes, even that felt off; maybe just out of the blue.

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    While the artwork sometimes had some pretty original moments (see that moment where it shifts into landscape), there was a steep decline in quality throughout most of those middle issues that really killed any vibe the story wanted to convey. Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 3) League of Shadows however remains fun and interesting as it explores so many characters at the same time. I do love it when two members of the team would have their own moment and have their chemistry developed in an instant (i.e. Batwing and Azrael with the whole science versus religion/faith dialogue, even if it wasn’t exactly part of the main story). Speaking of things that weren’t part of the main storyline, the first issue is an oversize anniversary special and includes a couple of mini-stories, including one that serves as a nice little unexpected teaser to DC’s next huge Batman-related event (Dark Nights: Metal). In the end, this third volume remains a nice Orphan-centric story that unleashes a bunch of different new threats for future volumes to explore. Fans will want to stick around as James Tynion IV will surely have something up his sleeves in volume 4.

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Did you read Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 3): League of Shadows yet? What did you think about it?
You haven’t read it, you say?
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/

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17 thoughts on “Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 3) Leagues of Shadows (Rebirth) by James Tynion IV

  1. healed1337 says:

    When I read this story arc by each individual issue, I really enjoyed it. But perhaps the change of artists and re-reading it as a whole may show at least a few flaws I wouldn’t have noticed at the time. Either way I agree, Detective Comics is better than Tom King’s Batman run. I dropped that a while ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Yeh, I read them as individual issues as well, but I waited till I had them all before reading them (1 issue per day). I thought this volume really had some pacing issues and was a bit all over the place. At some point I didn’t understand what Shiva’s end goal was really about anymore. But yep, unfortunately, Tom King still needs to come up with a really solid story arc before I could ever contemplate the idea that his run is better than Tynion IV’s..

      Like

  2. Bookstooge says:

    I really like the trend of releasing a bunch of comics in GN form soon after their individual release. I remember when you never knew if your favorite storyline was going to get the GN treatment or not. [I’m looking at you, former Amazing Spiderman & Web of Spiderman]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I know exactly what you mean… When I first started exploring comics, I quickly realized that a lot of the older Batman issues were never collected as trade paperbacks in chronological order (i.e. vol 1 = issues #1 to 10, vol 2 = issues #11 to 20, etc.). It made me wonder how much of Batman’s canon story would remain unknown to me. But then I realized that the issues that do get collected are actually the main canon story arcs and anything is that never sees a collected edition isn’t quite “necessary” to the reader. I guess it is since that era (right before New 52) that they realized how complicated it was and how impossible it was for newcomers to introduce themselves to comics. The new structure is definitely far superior.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    I’m sorry this was a bit of a disappointment to you… In between the chaotic writing and the inconsistent artwork, I don’t know which one is worse.
    I hate, hate, hate this type of changes, something that is entirely too frequent in the comic book world. It took me a while to wrap my mind around the fact that characters seem to change faces, personalities and entire storylines based on whoever’s writing them from time to time, and I can take that as long as it makes sense. But if you’re doing a complete arc or serialization, the artists involved should remain the same throughout for consistency’s sake. It makes no sense to me to have it otherwise. But, alas, the comic book publishers work in mysterious ways!
    I hope the next volume ends up redeeming this one somehow. And as per usual, another fantastic review, Lashaan 🙂 Keep ’em coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Well, you definitely understand the pain. Back in the day, the artwork used to be under one artist and everything usually remained quite consistent. Writers would go on runs with several consecutive issues, all theirs to tell their stories. But the format, once they were regrouped into trade paperbacks was just chaotic and too complicated for anyone to easily get into comics. Nowadays, around 2011, the structure became much easier to follow, especially number wise, but the creative teams behind each series would see so much change here and then, sometimes, if not always, based on the performance of the story. The Rebirth era of DC Comics however is also easy to follow, but the problem, I believe, is the deadlines that writers have since each issue is basically released bi-weekly (at least for all the main series). I can see why sometimes the artwork or writing changes hands since you simply just can’t pour out stories and draw them up in time and keep everything consistent with such a release schedule. I really wish they’d find a better structure for these writers and artists so that we can’t get quality.. over quantity. Thanks for reading Sophie! Always appreciate your thoughts. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Zezee says:

    Artwork is very important to me when reading comics. Sometimes it’s hard for me to enjoy the story if the art it’s paired with isn’t great. Sorry this one didn’t work out for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Chris Evans says:

    Wow, sorry for note getting to this sooner mate – anyway better late than never as they say! Yeah, I found this arc a little meh and like your goodself the mediocre art didn’t help. Good news is that the following arc – “Intelligence” – has been a good read with some good and consistent art.

    I do fear that Rebirth as a whole is suffering a little, mainly due to the strain of the twice monthly publishing it’s all seeming a little tired at times. I’ve been enjoying War of Jokes and Riddles though, have you been keeping up with that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahah don’t worry about it, bro. Glad to hear you agree about that artwork… It’s sometimes really surprising what they allow out in the market. I was really surprised that they could couple such artwork with Tynion’s writing… The next volume seemed a bit messy based on the different titles on each issues I got (Intelligence.. Wrath of Spoiler.. etc.). I was worried that it wouldn’t turn out quite great, but it’s good to hear that you’re vouching for it’s quality.

      You’re right about the publishing… I wish they’d change that soon. I don’t think sales are so bad for Rebirth series right now, especially compared to Marvel, but I wish DC would decide to turn things around and go for quality over quantity and try and keep the same creative teams for each story arc (at least)… I haven’t started King’s next story arc; I’m waiting for the last issues to come out. I rarely ever read as each issue comes out, and usually go to my local comic shop to pick up my pull list every month or so. I do hope War of Jokes and Riddles is A LOT better than the past volumes though… Especially now that we’ll be having both Joker and Riddler in the game.

      Have you read The Casting yet? Do you plan on reviewing that? What did you think about it? 😀 God. I can’t wait for Metal #1 to come out this week and for all those stand-alone evil Batmen issues to come out (a little hesitant about all those different writers and artists on those stand-alone issues, but still very excited!).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris Evans says:

        I did indeed check out the Casting but never got around to reviewing as it kind of got lost amongst some film reviews! I enjoyed it although I had the same issues with the inconsistent art. I also would like to see DC start shifting back to monthly releases, they have some really great artists working for them (Jim Lee, Jason Fabok, Ivan Reis, Tony S. Daniel, Patrick Zircher to name a few) but most seem to be relegated to doing covers or only the odd issue/couple of issues on a title. Just glad that Gary Frank will be doing all of Doomsday Clock with Geoff Johns!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

          And with the right writers, they could make some amazing creative teams for so many of their titles! I wish people weren’t so money-hungry… Gary Frank with Geoff Johns is going to be epic. I really can’t wait for those issues to drop, we need some modern classics. It’s been too long!

          Liked by 1 person

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