Today I'm launching a weekly series that will unveil what I consider to be the very best comic published this week. I'll be casting my eye across the entire Marvel and DC range, and beyond, to the smaller, independent publishers you may otherwise miss. For this first week, though, there isn't even any competition. Detective Comics #940 - the conclusion of "Rise of the Batmen" - is hands-down one of the best comics I've read in a long, long time.
DC has switched things up as part of their "Rebirth" event. The "Rise of the Batmen" arc has seen the Caped Crusader gather an elite team around himself, aiming to train them into becoming a finely-tuned machine. Unfortunately, Batman's villains are more dangerous than ever before. Enter obsessive black ops military leader Jacob Kane, father of Batwoman, who's uncovered every one of Batman's secrets - and prepared agents to use Batman's own tricks again him!
The Sacrifice of Tim Drake
Detective Comics #940 is the endgame. With an army of drones about to sweep across Gotham City, Tim Drake finds his hacking skills tested to their limit. The only thing he's able to do is to change the drones' target — and so he chooses himself as the target. If he survives, the drones are defeated, and he can consider it to be a triumph. If he dies, then the drones will consider their mission complete, and won't go on to threaten anyone else.
It's the kind of choice that shows a character's heroism. I grew up with Tim's Robin, and seeing his character unflinchingly choose the path of heroic self-sacrifice is a moment that leaves me shaken. James Tynion IV's writing is tremendous, pulling us into the emotion of the story with effortless ease; Eddy Barrows's art perfectly suits the tone and the style of the book. Compliments also have to be given to inker Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas; the whole artistic team gels perfectly to create an unmissable issue.
The real heartbreak comes in the aftermath, with the Bat-family reeling in shock at what's just happened. Previous issues had seeded a twist that plays out with devastating emotional impact, leaving even the Dark Knight devastated.
Finally, as you ride this emotional rollercoaster of a book to the end, everything turns on its head. I'm not going to spoil it, but safe to say that this twist suddenly makes Detective Comics a crucially important book in DC's current range. Those last few pages tie the events of "Rise of the Batmen" to the overarching "Rebirth" narrative, and leave me desperate to see where things go next.
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It's fitting that Comic of the Week begins with an issue so strong. DC's "Rebirth" event is transforming their entire range, and the books seem to be going from strength to strength; that's certainly the case for Detective Comics. This is an unmissable issue, demonstrating the emotional power and range of the comic book medium, and it stands tall above any of this week's competition.
What did you think of Detective Comics #940? And did you prefer any of the other comics published this week? Let me know in the comments!