With all the chaos that Batman has to deal with lately Detective Comics may be the place where the Dark Knight finds his toughest test. While Batman was able to celebrate the return of one of his proteges, Tim Drake, things didn’t go smoothly thereafter. Pushed to make a decision Batwoman decided to kill a rogue Clayface, who before then was part of Batman’s Gotham Knights team. As one would guess that decision quickly got Batwoman not only kicked out of the Gotham Knights but also forced Batman to tear the batsymbol off her. With that the Gotham Knights were split in half as the team was forced to choose between Batman and Batwoman. Now with everyone picking sides it is time for Batman and Batwoman come to their own choices of what to do next. Let’s see what happens moving forward with Detective Comics #975.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Many years ago young Bruce Wayne attends the funeral for his Aunt Gabrielle Kane. After the funeral Bruce checks on Kate, who asks Bruce if the pain ever goes away. Bruce says it doesn’t. They then talk about how they both think and dream of possibly killing those responsible for their respective parents death. Kate says that maybe they should make that thought into a reality.
In the present Kate wakes up and can’t get the face of a crying Cassandra Cain out of her head. Luke then calls her and she says she already knows today is the day.
At the Batgirl’s Clock Tower base of operation in Burnside Nightwing finds Batgirl preparing her argument for the upcoming Bat-Family meeting. They talk about each others methods of preparation and Batgirl mentions she thinks something about all this feels off. Nightwing says it feels off because it was Tim’s idea to do the meeting not Bruce. He then asks for a ride since he moved all his bikes to Bludhaven.
At Wayne Manor Damian Wayne is not pleased to see Cassandra in his room. When he gets snippy with her Cassandra drops Damian on his face much to Tim’s pleasure.
Alfred comes in to tell Damian and Tim that everyone is in the Batcave. After they leave Alfred tells Cassandra that they will be spending time together.
In the Batcave both Nightwing and Batgirl, acting as his big brother and big sister, are happy to see Tim alive and back as Red Robin. Red Hood suddenly appears much to everyone’s surprise. Batman tells everyone that he invited them all because they are the people he trusts them to help him make a judgement on what they should do about Batwoman.
Meanwhile Batwoman talks with Luke Fox while fighting Gorilla Boss and his gang. Luke mentions that he and Jean-Paul will follow Batwoman if she decides to go with the offer she was given. Luke continues to say that if Batwoman is acting out in anger they need to take a step back. Batwoman says she has always been angry.
After taking out Gorilla Boss Batwoman finally admits that it is the look Cassandra gave her, which looked like she broke something of hers, that is on her mind. Batwoman glides away and cuts their communication.
At the Batcave, Red Robin starts the meeting by talking about how unlike the others his start as a hero was not one of tragedy but about how much he believed in the concept of Batman and Robin and how that could be an eternal thing. He goes on to say when Batman came to him to go try out his Gotham Knights plan he wanted to build the Batsymbol into an inspirational source but Batwoman made the worst possible decision.
Nightwing is the next one to speak up and says he believes Batwoman made the decision she believed was the only one to make. He goes on to say while what Batwoman did is something she has to answer to but also she should be allowed to atone for it since Batman would give him a similar chance.
Nightwing asks Robin what he thinks. Robin just says that no one outside he and his dad should wear the Batsymbol.
Red Hood speaks up next and admits he is not going to try to argue if what Batwoman did was right, he even mentions he has stopped going lethal because the Bat-Family is important to him. Red Hood then says he does not like that they are putting Batwoman on trial just because Batman’s ego was hurt when she broke his rules. He then says he does believe Batwoman should stay.
Batman asks Batgirl for her opinion. Batgirl asks Batman about his reason for creating the Belfry. Red Robin tries to speak up but Batgirl quickly shuts him down as she does not want to hear an answer from a idealistic teenager.
With no answer Batgirl says she knows Batman had evidence that Colony was rising up and that they were looking to recruit Batwoman. She continues by talking about how Batman then decided to strike first by finally going along with Red Robin’s Gotham Knights plan.
Batman wants to know where Batgirl is going with all of this. Batgirl says she believes that Batman went with the Gotham Knights plan not because he believed in Red Robin utopia but because he wanted to steer his cousin away from a darker path. Batman stays silent while hearing this. Batgirl goes on to say that Batman through caution to the wind for an unstable system to help Batwoman.
Red Robin gets defensive but Batgirl mentions she has been talking to Stephanie Brown and she was planning on having this conversation with Batman before this “trial” happened. Red Robin continues to defend his choices but Batgirl reminds him that Cassandra has been further hurt after all she has been through as the one human connection she had was with a former super-villain.
Batman finally speaks up and says he would never do anything to hurt Cassandra. Batgirl continues her theory by saying that the reason Batman did all of this is because Batwoman is the closest connection he has to his mother, Marta, and he was afraid of losing that. Batgirl says Batman can’t take the Batsymbol away from Batwoman, only come to terms with who she is and what her decisions are.
Batgirl then says that she will stand with Batman if he can make a good case for why Batwoman is out of control but until then she agrees with Red Hood that Batwoman deserves their support. She finishes her talk by saying that only Batwoman that could put herself on trial.
At Gabrielle Kane’s grave Kate admits she killed a man that was trying to reform himself. She admits what is haunting her about her decision is Cassandra’s reaction being similar to how she saw herself when her mom died. She then says that she thinks she may have gotten off track and it is time to get on the right path to make her mom proud.
Kate then meets up with her dad and tells him that she is in. Jacob Kane calls the Colony airship to pick them up so they can get started on what comes next. End of issue.
The Good: Detective Comics #975 is an example of a comic that sets the tone for an entire franchise. It has been a while since we have seen the core Bat-Family all together in the same room. So we all should’ve expected when Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin, Red Hood and Red Robin got together there would be a lot to talk about. That is something that James Tynion IV clearly understood that with the special aura he created during the Bat-Family meeting in Detective Comics #975.
Starting Detective Comics #975 with Bruce Wayne and Kate Kane as young children was extremely important to the rest of the issue. It set out the underlying theme of differing opinions that we saw throughout the issue. It set things up with how Bruce and Kate view approaching life in their future careers. The funeral also gives further background in Bruce and Kate’s similarities as we don’t often see their history together as a family. That family connection makes everything that happened in this issue much more important as Bruce and Kate choose two different paths by the end.
Going from that flashback scene to Kate waking up from a dream further emphasize how Detective Comics #975 was built around her. Even if she didn’t dominate the issue from an appearance standpoint her presence was felt. The scenes we do get with Batwoman does a good job of getting us inside Kate’s head. It is clear that she wouldn’t of done things differently given a second chance. She knew what she was doing when she pulled the trigger to kill Clayface. This further highlights how driven she is as Batwoman and how she won’t just let others opinions of her affect every decision she makes, something that was made clear with her talk with Luke Fox.
At the same time Tynion was able to show that even though she doesn’t regret her decision to kill Clayface it does not mean Batwoman is heartless in the situation. Having her constantly think about the look Cassandra Cain had showed that she does understand the ramifications that her decisions carry. Relating that to how she felt when her mother died drew a nice parallel between Kate and Cassandra. This comparison gives greater interest to what will happen when Kate and Cassandra share scenes together.
While she wasn’t part of the Bat-Family meeting, Cassandra got some good development even when not on screen. It is clear that Cassandra is thinking about what she should do now that the closest person she had in her life was killed before her eyes. What Tynion’s plans for Cassandra are will be very interesting to see since he drew similarities to Kate when she was younger.
Tynion choice to kick off the Bat-Family part of the story with Nightwing and Batgirl meeting up before the meeting was a great move. These are the two longest running members of the Bat-Family and know Bruce the best. And while they do share a close relationship Nightwing and Batgirl normally deal with situations in very different ways, with Nightwing winging things while Batgirl is puts a lot of effort in her preparation. At the same time Tynion does show that they do understand that they are seen as big brother and sister of the Bat-Family with how they welcome Tim Drake back before the meeting.
This set-up made what each Bat-Family member had to say have greater importance as each member came in with different perspective. Tim starting the meeting does show how different he is to the others. As he mentioned in the meeting, he is the only one that decided to become Robin by choice rather than by tragedy because of his love for Batman and Robin. That love makes his outlook on the future of the Gotham Knights even more idealistic, as Batgirl mentioned later, since he sees the positive importance of Batman and Robin. This makes his perspective that Batwoman does not deserve to carry on being part of the Bat-Family something you understand.
Tim’s perspective made what Jason said about how they shouldn’t kick Batwoman out of the Bat-Family even more important. If there is one person that knows all about how heavy the weight there comes with pulling the trigger. Jason gives more weight to his words when he mentions how he has not gone lethal in a while because he does not want to break everyone’s trust. Given that Jason is now able to be part of Bruce’s inner circle even after all he has done there is a lot right to him standing by Batwoman and her continuing to be part of the Bat-Family.
Now out of everyone the one that came out looking the best was Barbara Gordon. Tynion did an excellent job highlighting how Barbara nailed the reason that Bruce was holding the meeting. Her calling out the fact that the only reason Bruce went with Tim’s plan was because he wanted to save Kate was fantastic. This is something that no one else in the room would have seen and given that Bruce does not deny any of it gives further truth that Barbara hit it on the head of the nail.
Barbara’s speech also highlighted how Tim has become obsessed with his version of a utopia under the Batsymbol. And in Tim’s obsession with his Gotham Knights plan he has made himself blind to certain things that have gone wrong and could still go wrong. In many ways the way Tim sees things, shown in his speech earlier in the issue, is not all that different from his future Batman-self. And while Barbara didn’t say so directly it was clear she was implying that Tim is to idealistic and is going down a path he is trying to avoid.
Everything Barbara said made her decision to stand with Batwoman actually mean something. She clearly backs Bruce’s side but she won’t let him, Tim or anyone try to render a verdict without clear evidence to what Kate did was wrong. At the same time Barbara made it clear that she’ll stand with Bruce if it is proven that Kate is going down the wrong path. This clearly defined perspective builds the potential for a very interesting back-and-forth between Batwoman and Batgirl whenever they meet.
Alvaro Martinez provides some great artwork throughout Detective Comics #975. He maintains a style that makes every member of the Bat-Family standout. And with Batgirl and Red Hood taking off their mask and helmet, respectively, Martinez was able to get across how they felt emotionally during their speech. This made the fact that Batman was the only one that did not take off his mask during the meeting something that stood out. It showed that Batman didn’t want the rest of the Bat-Family to see how he fully felt about what they said because of his personal connection to Batwoman.
The Bad: This isn’t a big deal as Detective Comics #975 was a comic with plenty of depth but Stephanie Brown’s absence was odd. Given that she has been an important part of Tynion’s Detective Comics run it would’ve been good to see her give her thoughts on the Batwoman-situation even if she wasn’t part of the Bat-Family meeting. Hopefully we see more of what Stephanie thinks of what is going on, especially with how Tim is being established as a character now.
Overall: Detective Comics #975 is an excellent example of a comic that sets the tone for the future of the Batman franchise. James Tynion IV made this rare Bat-Family meeting standout as something special as they decided what to do about Batwoman. Given each member of the Bat-Family’s perspective there are a lot of potential storylines that have been created with Detective Comics #975. If you are a Batman Family fan this is a comic that you must pick up.