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Detective Comics #948

by Kalem Lalonde on January 11, 2017

Writers: James Tynion IV & Marguerite Bennet 
Artist: Ben Oliver

James Tynion’s Detective Comics run has been the highlight of his career as a Batman writer. Tynion has turned me into an immense fan of Batwoman with his electric characterization. Detective Comics may be where Batman was created but make no mistake, Batwoman owns the series now. Issue #948 is the beginning of Batwoman Begins, a mix between an origin story and a continuation of Tynion’s ongoing narrative. While definitely being one of the more underwhelming issues of this run, Detective Comics #948 has me confident that we are going to get a good look into Batwoman’s formation over the next 4 issues.

I’ll start off with the positives by addressing the obvious. Every panel that Tynion is writing Batwoman is an absolute joy. The beginning of this issue shows one of Kate’s first missions on the field as Batwoman and I was so impressed how much story Tynion was able to pack into this short sequence. The heart of this character lies within her relationship with her father and every exchange bittersweet exchange Tynion writes between them ignites the page with phenomenal drama.

Unfortunately for this issue, that drama is sparring and disappears after the first sequence of this issue. The rest of the comic is simply dedicated to explaining the technologies of monsters and setting up some new agent-type character which are both questionably relevant to this story. I want a story titled “Batwoman Begins” to be about the Kate Kane’s transformation into Batwoman and the development of her destructive relationship with her father. When this issue focuses on that element, it shines. When it focuses on anything else, it underwhelms.
Ben Oliver returns to Detective Comics to bring this story to life with his poetic pencils. The painted style of Oliver’s art brings a sweeping quality to this issue reminiscent of the excellent Mike Del Mundo that elevates each page. His Batman is larger-than-life and scary while his Batwoman is powerful and militant. It remains to be seen whether Oliver will be able to properly express the struggle between Kate and her father but I have full faith that he will deliver. His figures in this issue are so excellent that any reason to doubt his abilities to express emotions should be laid to rest. This is a contender for the best-looking Bat-Book on the stands. Given the quality of this line’s art, that is high praise.

Detective Comics #948 is simultaneously frustrating and satisfying. When we are in the past exploring the origins of Batwoman, we are shown just how good this arc could end up being. Unfortunately, the rest of the issue seems to betray the concept of a "Begins" arc and raises questions as to whether we will ultimately get a rewarding origin story. I am faithful that the creative team will deliver but for now, this arc is a slight disappointment.

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