James Tynion is closing out his run on Detective Comics with a massive arc that is wrapping up the Brother Eye plotline he re-introduced during his time on the series. Brother Eye returns in the worst time possible as the Gotham Knights team that Batman and Red Robin created has been shattered. The team we started in is off in various directions with Batwoman recruiting Batwing and Azrael as part of the new version of Colony she has created alongside her father. With that being added on top of everything that is going on with Brother Eye things have been easier for Batman in Gotham City right now. Let’s see where Tynion goes next with Detective Comics #979.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Philippe Briones
Colorist: John Kalisz
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside Red Robin’s head Ulysses shows Tim what happened in the alternate future where Cassandra Cain died at Ra’s Al Ghul’s hand, Azrael was killed by his copies and Batwing was assassinated. Ulysses continues to mock Red Robin for trying so hard even though it is useless to regain control of his body.
In the Batcave Cassandra tries to save Red Robin from being taken over by Brother Eye while fighting various OMACs. Cassandra is overwhelmed by the number of OMACs.
Inside his head, Red Robin pleads with Ulysses to stop but is unable to do anything.
At the ruins of the Kane Manor, Batman, Colonel Kane and Batwoman are fight the OMAC that are attacking them. Batwing and Azrael join in to provide some back-up. With their numbers the group is able to figure out a way to take out the OMACs.
Batwing tells Batman that the Brother Eye that Future-Tim activated is behind it. Batwing then says that the worst possibility has happened, and it is not Future-Tim’s doing.
Red Robin watches how Batwing is implicating him being behind the Brother Eye attack. Ulysses continues to mock Red Robin for coming up with all the plans he is using against Batman and his allies. Ulysses then reveals he wants to shape the future of Batman with Red Robin and he doesn’t necessarily need the present Tim to do so.
Red Robin tries to fight Ulysses but Ulysses is just data and goes around mocking Red Robin for being unable to do anything to stop him. Ulysses is able to get behind Red Robin and hacks further into his head.
At the Kane Manor the OMACs are activated again and fly away.
At the same time Ulysses has full control of Red Robins body and transforms him into an OMAC version of Batman. OMAC-Tim tells Cassandra that “he” is in control of the OMAC fleet and to not get in his way.
Colonel Kane thinks that they need to kill Red Robin since he is the host of Brother Eye. Batman says he will kill anyone that kills Red Robin. Batman then says he believes they can still get to Tim and save him from whoever is really behind the Brother Eye’s activity.
A few minutes later Batman finds Cassandra buried under rubble in the Batcave. He saves her and says he needs her to help recruit the person that can help them get through to Tim.
At Stephanie Brown’s place, Batman tells Stephanie they need her help in saving Tim. Stephanie agrees to help since Batman actually asked this time.
Over at the ruins of the Belfry the OMAC circle the area and Brother Eye creates a new version of the base. OMAC-Tim, with Ulysses in control, then says it is time to begin. End of issue.
The Good: Detective Comics #979 got us one step closer to James Tynion’s endgame in a major way. This issue specifically touches on all the things that have been developing around Tim Drake’s current character arc. While Tim is the focal point there is still some attention paid to what is going on with the splintered Gotham Knights team. Though with that comes some questionable decisions from a story perspective.
Since returning to the series Tim Drake has been the main character of Detective Comics. Tynion has done a lot to make this series a vehicle to move Tim’s character forward. How positive that direction has been for Tim as a character is questionable. While he has still been shown to be the hero we remember him to be battling his future self was not the best for Tim. Tynion has gone all in on the worst personality trait of Tim’s being his obsession with being over prepared. His obsession is even worse than his mentor and it has made this Brother Eye arc be even stronger.
Having Ulysses as the main antagonist has made what Tim is going through even better. With Detective Comics #979 Tynion is able to use Ulysses as the catalyst to show Tim what happens when he is so narrow minded in his goals that he keeps pushing forward. It is because Tim has pushed forward with his vision for the Batman Family being correct that made him such an easy target for Ulysses to take advantage of. It is the same problem that the future version of Tim Drake had as his obsession was his greatest enemy, turning him into a villain in the process. That same thing is happening with the present day Tim as we see him actually become an OMAC-Batman.
Though Tim is having his worst character trait used against him Tynion does a good job making sure that this is all part of Tim’s personal character arc in this story. Throughout the mental battle with Ulysses we do see Tim trying to fight against everything that Ulysses is saying. It’s a battle in which we could see hints at Tim’s eyes finally opening up to what he has been doing wrong. We are still a ways away from Tim realizing this but Detective Comics #979 does position the character to go down that road in the aftermath of this story.
Cassandra Cain’s character arc was something that helped what is going on with Tim. While Cassandra is still confused as to what her role is now it does not stop her from saving a friend. Seeing how desperate she was in trying to save Tim showed how committed she when it comes to those she is close with. Even with the odds against her she was completely focused on saving Tim. That drive does make you hope Cassandra find some form of happiness with everything that has happened to her recently.
While the Tim Drake and Brother Eye story is front and center with this current arc Tynion does not forget to further the other big battle going on: Batman vs Colony. The Brother Eye conflict is something that does not help Batman’s argument against Batwoman’s recent decision. Though we know Tim isn’t responsible for what is going on, Batman is showing himself to show a lot of favoritism when it comes to Tim’s actions. Batman not accepting his protege is going down a path that is only making things worse is something he needs to come around on in order to help Tim develop into more of positive superhero.
At the same time it was good to see even though Batman wasn’t completely right it does not mean Colonel Kane is. Tynion continues to make Colonel Kane into the biggest asshole in town. His asshole nature makes Batwoman trying to play peacekeeper a better role for her. I’m actually glad that Tynion isn’t going down the full villainous route with Batwoman. We’ve been seeing a darker version of Batwoman in alternate timelines a lot recently. Because of that Tynion writing Batwoman as someone that is more tethering on different shades of grey is much more fitting. This makes her trying to get her dad and Batman on the same page a more natural fit for who she is.
Philippe Briones provides some solid artwork throughout Detective Comics #979. Briones does a good job making the mental battle Red Robin and Ulyssis are having with Batman’s crew fighting the OMACs in the real world. Both scenes took advantage of their surroundings. There was also a lot good artwork during the character moments that helped enhance what was going on in the story.
The Bad: Stephanie Brown continues to be a very uneven character. There are times she is the most compelling character in Detective Comics while other times she is the hardest to be interested in. Detective Comics #979 was a case for the latter, even in Stephanie’s short appearance. After everything that she has gone through it is disappointing to see how inactive she is and how she is so aloof to what is going on in Gotham City. Even though she and Tim did not end on good terms it is unfortunate to see that she isn’t ready to save the city. Instead she was just sitting back looking like she was willing to let things happen if Batman didn’t apologize. That pettiness is just not a good look for Stephanie in her only page on screen.
Overall: Detective Comics #979 was a solid chapter that pushed the “Batman Eternal” story arc forward. James Tynion has done a good job presenting Ulysses as the greatest threat Red Robin has gone up against. How Ulysses uses Red Robin, Brother Eye and OMAC together creates a lot of questions to be answered as to how things will end up when all is said and done for the Batman Family. If Detective Comics #979 is any indication than the answer may not be a good one for our favorite Gotham City superheroes.