It’s a slow week, with only one new comic on my list. This is Detective Comics #963, and interestingly it’s a very Batman-lite issue.
I like the pattern in Detective Comics lately: longer arcs alternating with one-shots or two-issue arcs. In the last pause between arcs, Spoiler returned to Gotham, having decided to be a hero her own way. Now we get to check in and see how she’s doing.
I really love Stephanie Brown/Spoiler. For a costumed hero she’s quite a grounded, realistic character, mostly because of what she’s going through. Heartbroken by the death of her lover, Tim Drake/Red Robin she has become convinced that the heroes are bad for Gotham. They attract villains looking for a challenge to boost their reputation and if they defeat the bad guys it’s never without cost: property damage, injuries and deaths. Spoiler wants to find a new way. At the end of her previous one-shot, she met up with Anarky.
This issue begins with a flashback to her romance with Tim, then cuts to Spoiler sneaking into “Monster Town”. This harks back to last summer’s “Night of the Monster Men” and shows us that Gotham is still feeling the after effects. We also see Basil/Clayface venturing into the tunnels beneath “Monster Town”. Spoiler meets with Anarky, delivering stolen medical supplies to him, but she’s clearly unhappy with her role as his sidekick. Anarky is either paranoid with poor interpersonal skills, or he’s manipulating her. I’d go with the second, but I don’t really know the character. Spoiler seems to be looking for a new mentor, but that’s somewhat in conflict with the new philosophy she’s developed. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I don’t have a good feeling.
Clayface’s thread of the story provides a different kind of heart. His struggles to stay Basil, to stay good, have been the core of his stories since Batman recruited him. Here we see him submitting to experiments, staying in Clayface form for too long so the Doctor can monitor how it affects his psyche. Even with Batman on hand “in case something goes wrong”, they seem to be walking a tightrope. I feel bad for Basil, but I really hope he can get what he wants out of this weird therapy.
The conclusion reveals Anarky’s “Utopia”: a kind of upscale refugee camp he has created underneath “Monster Town”. As he explains it to Spoiler, both city authorities and heroes have abandoned Monster Town, with their efforts directed at keeping people out, not helping anyone trapped within. So he thinks it’s the perfect place to start a revolution:
The thing is, between those two panels Anarky spends some time boasting about the tunnels under Gotham that only he knows about…except, of course, these are the same tunnels Tim had been planning to use to help the Bat-family better get around the city. Spoiler doesn’t let on that Tim knew about them (meaning Batman also knows) so I’m hopeful she’s not trusting him blindly.
Maybe I’ll find out in the next issue 😀
With Batman finding out at the end of the previous arc that Tim is still alive, the glimpse of Evil!Future!Tim in the last Batwoman and the flashback in this issue, I have a feeling we will soon see more of Tim Drake. When he returns, it’s going to be huge.