A Lonely Place of Living, Finale (Detective Comics #968 Review)

Tim Drake is back on Earth! But the person who helped him escape Mr. Oz’s prison is back, too—and he’s determined to kill a member of the Gotham Knights! Can Tim and the team stop him or are they already far too late?

DETECTIVE COMICS # 968


Writer:  James Tynion IV
Artist:  Alvaro Martinez
Inker:  Raul Fernandez
Colorist:  Tomeu Morey
Cover Artist:  Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira & Adriano Lucas
Publisher:  DC Comics

What You Need to Know:

Tim Drake AKA Red Robin escaped from Mr. Oz’s prison with help from his future self—the Tim Drake Batman from Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans story, “Titans of Tomorrow.”  However, future Batman tells Tim soon Batwoman will destroy all Tim’s built creating the Belfry and getting Batman to form the Gotham Knights.  Tim gets to the Belfry to tell the Knights he’s back and warn them of future Batman’s plan.  They make Batwoman lock herself in one of the Belfry’s cells while Batman, Red Robin, Nightwing, Robin and Red Hood track future Batman to the Batcave.  But future Batman has downloaded the Brother Eye software into the Batcave’s computers.  His first order: send drones to kill Batwoman.

What You’ll Find Out:

Onboard the airship of the Colony (mortal enemies of the Gotham Knights) sits teen computer wizard Ulysses who’s composing a vindictive email to Batwoman’s father when Brother Eye takes over the Colony’s drones and orders them to kill Batwoman.  Ulysses stops what he’s doing to watch the fireworks.

Future Batman beats Red Hood, Robin, Nightwing and Batman before a wave of tachyons starts to yank him back to the future.  Realizing time is running out, he orders Brother Eye to send all the Batmobiles into the cave to attack his opponents and bolts.

The drones attack the Belfry and Brother Eye opens all the cells, releasing Batwoman.  She tells Batwing, Clayface, and Orphan to leave, but together they fight back.  Meanwhile, Red Robin follows future Batman onto a monorail going back to the Belfry.  Another wave of tachyons pulls at him and he explains to Tim that Hypertime is fighting his attempts to change the timeline.  But he’s still here so it’s still possible for him to change things.  He tries to get Tim to understand that it’s not a difference in morality between them, but that what Batwoman does in a few weeks will break his heart and his spirit.  He’s trying to change things so Tim can be with Stephanie and live happily ever after. Then he knocks him out.

Batwoman, Clayface, Orphan, and Batwing are fighting the drones to stay alive when future Batman arrives.  He orders Brother Eye to stop the attack and put him and Batwoman inside a force field.  He confronts her for being selfish and arrogant to cover up the fact she doesn’t know what’s she’s doing. He aims his gun, but Red Robin throws a Batarang to break the force field and smacks the gun out of his hand.

Batwing explains that he rebuilt all of Tim’s computers so he and Tim took control from Brother Eye.  Tim and Batwoman beat future Batman down to his knees.  Batman, Robin, Nightwing and Red Hood show up with older Batplanes running outdated software that Brother Eye can’t control and shoot down all the drones.  Batman tells Tim to finish future Batman, but he refuses and attempts to reason with him.

Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez treat readers to a double page climax made even livelier by Tomeu Morey’s coloring…Detective Comics 968_page 16 and 17

Tim says he realizes there is a cost to being part of Batman and Robin and there will always be one.  They still can live that life, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one.  You can bring people into your life and that will make you stronger.  Building the Belfry was their dream and it still can be.

Tears run down future Batman’s face as he answers that it won’t work and it’s all going to fall apart sooner than he can imagine.  Brother Eye tells him they must return to their time and both disappear.  We close on Batman’s voice over the com asking Tim if it’s over as they survey the damage.

What Just Happened?

This is a satisfying if less than perfect conclusion.  Tynion and his editors are clearly trying to keep the events of upcoming issues under wraps by making sure Tim’s future self never reveals what Batwoman does that “makes it all fall apart.”  Though understandable, it’s a glaring plot hole that makes a reader throw up their hands and groan, “Why doesn’t anyone just ask this guy what Batwoman does wrong so they can stop her from doing it?!”

But that would be too easy.  Writing the story so that none of the characters asks the most obvious question weakens this finale by leaving the reader annoyed at the characters being forced to play dumb.  That costs the ‘Tec team a full point this round.

Otherwise, this issue hits most of the right notes.  Tim Drake doesn’t go for revenge or try to beat sense into his future self.  Tim reasons with him by addressing their vigilante lifestyle, the altruism behind it and that it doesn’t mean they have to be lonely and miserable. And the fight scenes and action are well-done.

One of the most effective gimmicks in Tynion’s run on this book is how every member of the Gotham Knights takes turns in the spotlight. Spoiler, Clayface, Orphan, Batwoman, Azrael—each of them has had arcs focusing on them.  In this issue, Red Hood gets a few good one-liners. Batwing’s computer skills are critical to taking down Brother Eye. It’s always a team effort.

The rotating artists on this book are no exception.  From Eddy Barrows to Alvaro Martinez to Carmen Carnero to Raul Fernandez and more, Detective Comics has one of the strongest teams in comics.

Rating:  7.5 / 10

Final ThoughtTynion, Martinez, Fernandez, and Morey deliver an action-packed and dramatic ending to a compelling arc.  The contrivances Tynion engineers to get everyone to avoid asking their antagonist what Batwoman does to ruin Tim’s life and the team are silly and irritating.  But like every other issue in this run, the narrative flows smoothly, the action is top notch and the art is always good, if not great.  Plus, no character is ever neglected and everyone always gets a chance to shine.  Detective Comics remains one of DC’s top ten books.

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