Detective Comics #973 Review: The Victimization of Clayface

Detective Comics #973
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Summary
Writer: James Tynion IV, Artist: Jesus Merino, Color Artist: Jason Wright, Letters: Sal Cipriano. Cover by: Guillem March and Tomeu Morey, Variant Cover by: Rafael Albuquerque, Editor: Chris Conroy, Assistant Editor: Dave Wielgosz, Group Editor: Brian Cunningham, Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger, Publisher: DC Comics, Release Date: Out Now, Price: $2.99

Clayface, empowered and driven madder by the excess clay from the Belfry's Mudroom, is now raging across Gotham City. Orphan is worried for her friend, Red Robin is out of commission, and Batman's only hope is that Dr. October may have a solution. Batwoman has a different answer in the form of a rifle given by her father. Meanwhile, Anarky and the First Victim have a disagreement of ethics.

Detective Comics #973 cover by Guillem March adn Tomeu Morey
Detective Comics #973 cover by Guillem March and Tomeu Morey

The finale to "Fall of the Batmen" is a bit heartbreaking in seeing Clayface's descent into fear and madness. As I said in my previous review of Detective Comics, I really liked the idea of Basil Karlo joining the side of heroes. It seems unlikely that he will be able to do so after this tale. All other things put aside, Batman would likely lose public trust after this rampage, and people would be right to have concerns about a mud-monster what wrecked the city.

James Tynion IV is quite adept at keeping emotion close-at-hand when writing his Batman tales. Plus, his stint on Red Hood and the Outlaws was easily my favorite arc of the pre-Rebirth series. He keeps much of the attention on Orphan and her concerns about Clayface, Red Robin's future being sapped away by his attachment to superheroics and Batman, and Batman himself trying to keep this team from falling apart.

The Batwoman angle brings her torn loyalties into focus, coming to a head in the finale.

Going back to the finale, I am far more under-read in comics than Rich Johnston. As such, Miracleman is something I've yet to read. However, after reading his article about the similarities between Detective Comics #973 and Miracleman #15, I definitely see his point. It does read like and visually resemble a sendoff to Alan Moore's series.

That ending is a shocker, and I am eager to see where the team goes from here.

Detective Comics #973 art by Jesus Merino and Jason Wright
Detective Comics #973 art by Jesus Merino and Jason Wright

Jesus Merino's artwork brings a bit of grit and old-style detailing to the proceedings. There is a lot of expression in many of the subtler moments, and Clayface's rampage looks quite awesome. There is an impressive two-page spread of him smashing up Gotham worthy of a poster printing. Jason Wright shows why he is one of DC's best color artists with a grim yet well-balanced palette.

Detective Comics #973 is a strong finish for an intriguing arc. It makes for a tragic tale of fear, anger, and distrust. Tynion, Merino, and Wright do some fine work here, and you should definitely check it out. I highly recommend it.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.