by RILEY GOLDEN//Entertainment Editor
The vigilantes of Gotham City are being watched.
Batman has his suspicions, but as Batman typically does, he’s keeping his team in the dark. He lets them know what they need to know to do their job, but nothing more, and nothing less.
In the DC Universe Rebirth of “Batman: Detective Comics: Vol. 1 Rise of the Batmen,” Batman puts together one of his most versatile teams yet to take on an army of Batmen.
Batman cannot do this one alone, and he knows his loner mindset will not be beneficial to the mission. He needs someone who thinks like him, but is also military minded. So he recruits his cousin and ex-marine, Katherine “Kate” Kane, or Batwoman, to help him train and prepare the younger generation of vigilantes.
I have never read any Batwoman comics, and I think “Rise of the Batmen” does a great job of telling her story in conjunction with the main story of the comic. Her dad is Bruce’s uncle and an Army colonel. Kate was dishonorably discharged by the Marines for being lesbian, so she turned to fighting crime, vigilante style. Her costume is black, with red details, and although she keeps her head buzzed, there’s a long, red wig attached to her mask.
Next is the Spoiler, Stephanie Brown. Trained by Catwoman and raised by two geniuses, she turns every challenge on its head in the most unexpected way. Wearing a homemade purple and gray costume, with her long blonde hair hanging out, she’s unrefined but extremely determined. Batman made the mistake of underestimating her once, and he won’t do it again.
Next is one of Batman’s former partners, Tim Drake, a.k.a. Red Robin. He is a tech genius and the most tactically minded partner that Batman has ever had. Previously donning a red, gold, and black costume, he’s now in a more traditional red, green, and yellow Robin costume. Tim and Stephanie are romantically involved, and Tim is on the verge of putting away the tights and going to an Ivy League College full time. He believes he can save more people globally with his brain than by fighting crime in Gotham City.
Then there’s Orphan. Her name is Cassandra Caine and her father was a master assassin who more engineered her than raised her. Her first language was violence. Batman is the first person to ever show Cassandra affection, and she admires him for it. According to Batman, Cassandra is the most dangerous fighter that he has ever seen in action and they’re lucky to have her on the side of justice. She wears a black-and-gold costume with a solid black mask that covers her entire face and appears to be stitched right over the mouth.
Finally, and probably most unexpectedly, is Clayface, or Basil Karlo. Karlo was an actor until an accident turned him into a giant clay monster. Often an enemy of Batman, it’s great to see him willingly help Batman for the possible chance of getting his life back.
As the mission begins, Batwoman is training the rest of the team at the Belfry while Batman works to figure out what exactly is going on. The Belfry was designed by Tim to be a new frontline for the war on crime. It’s basically a massive Batcave in the center of Gotham City, and, according to Tim, it’s now fully operational.
While Batman is out investigating, 50 soldiers trained to fight like him, and assisted by an algorithm in their helmets, ambush him.
Back at the Belfry, the team watches the recordings of Batman’s fight with the Batmen. It’s brutal, and they win. They capture Batman, so it’s time for the team to go on the offensive to save Batman.
Batwoman brings in her dad for help, and it is the worst thing she could’ve done. Colonel Kane was behind it all. He’s been studying Batman for years so that he could take his abilities and apply them to the military. And now that Batman is trying to stop him, he has to act on the team so that he can keep progressing.
The Batmen storm the Belfry, and Clayface forms a ball around the team, and they drop 300 feet into the Old Gotham subway tunnels, escaping the Batmen.
Back at the Batmen headquarters, Batman is being held captive and two soldiers are going through his utility belt, which provides one of my favorite scenes from the comic. The men have almost catalogued 40 items from his belt, and they are barely halfway done with it. They find antitoxins, lock picks, tools, an ungodly amount of batarangs, and, of course, a chip of Kryptonite.
Batman escapes captivity on his own and investigates the headquarters on his own until Colonel Kane finds him and holds him at gunpoint. Out of nowhere, Batwoman shows up and tells her father she picked a side, and tells her team to attack.
The Colonel reveals to Batman that he developed these Batmen in order to destroy the League of Shadows, which is a ruse to take attention off the real threat, the League of Assassins. Colonel Kane tells Batman he’s blinded by his ego. But, on the contrary, I think the Colonel is blinded by his ego, especially when he doesn’t even entertain the idea that the League of Shadows might not be real.
But after this interaction, they decide that all of the Colonel’s targets are innocent people. Their targeting system would not only kill the 100 innocent targets, but hundreds of people in the same vicinity.
So, Red Robin hacks their systems and tells their targeting drones to come after him. He sends all of the drones after himself, to help save hundreds of innocent lives, even if it means giving up his. Tim was ready to go to college and move on from being Batman’s partner, yet he did the most selfless thing possible to save the people of his city and his friends. This hits me right in my Bat-heart. And although it doesn’t quite seem like the end of Tim Drake, the reader is left wondering what will happen to him.
This is a great Rebirth comic that has a great story, great action, and amazing art, adding a layer of emotion to Batman that is so often lost under the cape and cowl. I give “Batman Detective Comics: Vol. 1 Rise of the Batmen” 5 out of 5 stars.