Today’s Super Comics — Detective Comics #934-940 (2016)

Hey, look—the original numbering is back. Welcome back, triple-digit numbers.

The numbering is old, but the direction is new. Detective Comics becomes a team book beginning with issue #934, with Batman and Batwoman as co-leads. They gather the next generation of Gotham-based crimefighters, seeking to train them to face an oncoming threat.

The recruits are all familiar faces (though I’m more familiar with their pre–New 52 versions): Tim Drake, here as Red Robin instead of just Robin (not sure what the distinction is, other than the very first Robin of olde-timey continuity grew up into Red Robin, but in-story, the “Red” seems a random addition); Cassandra Cain, Orphan (she was the second Batgirl in previous continuity); Stephanie Brown, Spoiler (the third Batgirl in previous continuity); and, quite randomly, a reformed Clayface (it feels like that old Sesame Street game—one of these things just doesn’t belong here; but I like the idea of Batman wanting to help an old foe turn his life around).

It’s a good team, and they face a compelling antagonist. The U.S. military (or at least one rogue contingent within) has decided to duplicate Batman’s techniques, methods, and equipment to create an army of Batmen. If one Batman can accomplish so much good in Gotham, how much good could many Batmen accomplish in military situations across the globe?

I don’t usually care for casting the military as villains, but this turns out to be an exception. There aren’t any mustache-twirling villains here. They have legitimate concerns about national security, and trying to learn from Batman is certainly not a bad idea, but they go way too far, to the point of endangering the innocents they want to protect. To make things more interesting, the colonel in charge of this operation is Batwoman’s father and Batman’s uncle, adding personal dimensions to the conflict.

The team nature of the book humanizes Batman a bit, giving him more opportunities than usual to display genuine emotion—especially after what happens in #940. I’ll be back for the second volume.

This might be the strongest DC Rebirth trade I’ve read yet, and they’ve all been good (so far, though I probably just jinxed it…sorry about that).

Writer: James Tynion IV

Artists: Eddy Barrows and Alvaro Martinez

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Batman: Detective Comics vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1-6 (2016)

Batman TMNT 1Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles team up, and it’s everything my inner nine-year-old could’ve hoped for.

These six issues are loaded with fun moments, and even some heartfelt ones. Michelangelo makes a chart to figure out whether Batman is “awesome” or “not awesome.” Donatello geeks out over the Batcave’s tech. Leonardo spars with Batman. Raphael has a heart-to-heart with him. Alfred confiscates Michelangelo’s skateboard. And so much more.

James Tynion IV writes everyone perfectly in character, and Freddie E. Williams II makes them look fantastic. The story has a compelling ticking clock—if the Turtles and Splinter stay in the DC Universe too long, their mutagen will become inert, reverting them to normal animals. It provides a nice sense of urgency without sacrificing the quieter moments, those character interactions we’ve been waiting to see since elementary school.

Another great touch is Batman’s motivation for wanting to help the Turtles and Splinter. Sure, he’s a superhero, so it’s generally in his nature to do so, but Tynion latches on to something more meaningful as well. Batman’s whole mission is driven by a desire to make sure no family is torn apart like his was, and here he encounters a family in peril, however unusual this particular family is. So of course he’ll do all he can for them.

And if the sight of Batman and Master Splinter paying their respects to each other doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart, you either have no heart or were a child at the wrong time.

Writer: James Tynion IV

Artist: Freddie E. Williams II

Publishers: DC Comics and IDW Publishing

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (HC)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up