The issue prior showed Batman recruiting extended members of the Bat-family for a training camp of sorts, headed by his trusted cousin Batwoman. It was a truly inspired set-up issue, and now Detective Comics has us looking in at not just the mystery of the opening arc, but also at the individuals of this series. Honestly, it's a hell of a follow-up.
Under the microscope this issue are Kate Kane and Tim Drake, two of the most underrated Bat-characters in the DCU. They both serve different purposes in the Rebirth universe, and James Tynion IV shows a respect for the depth each character has in reference to their objectives.
With Kate, we see her as the stern-but-understanding drill sergeant: she pushes the new team to their limits in the 'Mud Room,' including a fascinating bit where Clayface has to wear an armband that essentially returns him to his helpless human form. She dissects their weaknesses very efficiently, but never sounds condemning in her assessments - she clearly wants this group to grow and improve. We even see her sans costume in the presence of her father, where they engage in a wonderful bit of dialogue encompassing everything from their family's heritage to Kate's incredible physical abilities.
Tim Drake's scenes are just as compelling: the early exposition of the issue shows that the Mud Room (basically the Bat-family's 'Danger Room' that combines Tim's staggering engineering and computer knowledge with extra bits of Clayface) and the Belfrey (this team's own Batcave found in the heart of the city) were all of Tim's design, including a computer system that puts the ol' Bat-puter to shame. It's that same genius that might get Tim a full ride out of Gotham and into Ivy University's think tank...if he chooses to go.
The conversations Tim has with both Bruce and Spoiler ring with emotion. Batman treats Tim with respect and love, and considers him an integral part of not just this team, but to Gotham's security. Stephanie speaks with Tim like a loving significant other should, with patience and pathos. We even get a really beautiful panel from artist Eddy Barrows featuring the two -- ahem -- love birds.
SPEAKING OF EDDY BARROWS, two issues into his Bat-gig and he's already cracked my pinnacle of favorite Bat-artists of all time (in case you're wondering, my Top 5 in no particular order is Neal Adams, Jim Aparo, Greg Capullo, Patrick Gleason, and Eddy Barrows). It's not just his characters that are so perfect (from their costumes to their postures to their faces to their actions), but his panel arrangement is just incredible. He uses space and angles like a cinema auteur and doesn't shy away from old school layout tricks like the one he used in a neat panel featuring Batwoman.
And his Batman? Shit, man, Barrows' all-around quality is pristine: Batman's cowl feels like an actual cowl instead of a so-skin-tight-it-may-be-painted-on mask. His gauntlets are believably functional. And his cape -- OH HIS CAPE -- is so richly detailed that it has officially toppled Ethan Van Sciver's rendition as Best Bat-Cape (....Todd Macfarlane is also up there, FYI).
This is such a fun and interesting book; it's moving at a good pace, the action is tight, the characters drive the narrative, the strange bat-army has been revealed in tiny pieces, and the potential of this series is honestly unlimited: Tynion IV is as one of the top disciples of Snyder's Bat-mythos, and his handling of Batman/TMNT showed he can handle a diverse cast surrounding the Caped Crusader quite capably. It can truly be the Bat-Family book fans have been hoping for (I pray he brings in Harper Row and Duke Thomas at some point).
Simply put, Detective Comics is setting up a prodigious storyline with two top-shelf talents operating at the peak of their powers. Why resist?