This review contains minor spoilers.
You know all those MasterClass ads popping up on Facebook and urging you to learn writing from James Patterson? Well, you can save yourself $90 and pick up James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics #952 instead. His “League of Shadows” storyline is only two issues in, but it’s hitting every note like a Guitar Hero veteran on hard mode.
In an action-packed issue, Batman’s team battles the League of Shadows in Adams Square Park. Meanwhile, Cassandra spots Lady Shiva on the rooftop and squares off against her. They do the ninja dance, with Cassandra ultimately coming up short, but not before Shiva drops a bombshell on the young heroine. The Dark Knight comes to her rescue; however, he’s also defeated by Shiva, who leaves him with an ominous warning. The League disappears into the shadows (ha!), along with two members of the Bat Family. With the city in peril and the cops against Batman, the remaining members try to figure out what to do. Uncharacteristically, Colonel Kane tells Batwoman that it’s over and there’s nothing they can do to stop the League. To make matters even worse, Cassandra is left emotionally scarred by Shiva’s shocking revelation.
Shew! That’s quite a lot to digest in 32 pages, but that’s what makes Tynion so good. His pacing is quick, precise and to the point. There’s never a moment where you feel like he’s dragging something along to sell a few more issues, as he leaves his best in every book. His cliffhangers leave you genuinely excited to see what’s next, rather than prey on the basic premise of FOMO.
I’ve mentioned before how Tynion has the uncanny ability of making us care about the secondary characters in Detective Comics – and he does it here again. He could’ve easily made the story all about Batman and leave Cassandra on the outskirts, but he finds the right balance and does justice to both characters. In many ways, it’s reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s handling of The Avengers, where there’s an emotional attachment to the characters and everyone serves an overall purpose. It’s incredibly difficult to pull off, but if done correctly, it makes for phenomenal, in-depth storytelling.
Artist Christian Duce is back on pencils here, illustrating another splendid issue. While the fast-and-furious action scenes form the bulk of the narrative, he doesn’t shy away from highlighting the emotional side, either. His treatment of the issue’s last page is particularly striking, since it’s symmetrical to the famed scene from Detective Comics #940 where Bruce comforts Stephanie Brown after Tim Drake’s “death.” Tynion’s version of Batman is perhaps the most human we’ve ever seen, needing to be an emotional crutch and father figure for his young team. Duce understands and captures this perfectly here.
Overall, Detective Comics #952 continues to demonstrate the tour de force that is Tynion’s storytelling ability. His stories aren’t intricate or confusing; they’re fresh and entertaining. Moreover, there’s a real human element to his Batman, which we haven’t seen before, and that’s a welcome change to the scowling emotional delinquent we all know. Add this issue to this week’s must-buy list; you can thank me later.
Tynion demonstrates his masterful storytelling ability in Detective Comics #952.