For the last few months, Detective Comics has been living up to its name, sprinkling clues to pull readers along an intensifying mystery that’s going to require the entire Bat-team to solve. Things come to a head in this week’s issue, in a shocking conclusion that shakes up Gotham City’s crime-fighting contingent.
Written by James Tynion IV, with art by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Adriano Lucas, and Marilyn Patrizio, Detective Comics #940 caps off the “Rise of the Batmen” storyline, which has seen Batman and Batwoman assemble a team to thwart a secret threat lurking inside Gotham City. That threat turned out to be the Colony, an ultra-stealth military division modeled after Batman and led by Col. Jacob Kane, Batwoman’s father. Each issue ratcheted the stakes up higher, showing Kate Kane caught in a tug-of-war between her father and the man who inspired her to become a costumed crimefighter.
The Colony’s goal has been to eliminate individuals in Gotham that they believe belong to The League of Shadows, a splinter group of the League of Assassins led by Ra’s Al Ghul. Despite Batman saying that the Shadows are a myth and the Colony is targeting innocent people, Col. Kane unleashes a fleet of drones programmed to kill hundreds of citizens.
Detective Comics #939 saw Tim Drake/Red Robin reprogram the drones to target himself, setting up the Bat-team’s resident tech genius against near-impossible odds. Earlier this week, comics enthusiasts sites have been abuzz with speculation that Tim Drake would die.
The set-up has been there from the start. At the start of the new Detective Comics run, Batman had a heart-to-heart talk with Tim, letting him know how much he values the third young man to take on the Robin mantle.
In addition, Tim’s been in a superhero romance with Stephanie Brown/Spoiler for a while and has confided in her that he’s going to hang up his cape to go to college. He’s also been shown as more of an invaluable badass than ever before and waxing rhapsodic about the Belfry, the cutting-edge Batcave that’s set to revolutionize how the Bat-team keeps Gotham safe.
Tim Drake’s always been a fan favorite and Tynion’s scripting in ‘Tec has had Red Robin riding high than ever. But longtime pop culture fans know that this is also the kind of emotional manipulation that happens before heroic characters make the ultimate sacrifice.
True to form, last-breath conversations with Batman and Spoiler play out in the panels of Detective Comics #940…
...building to a brutal splash page…
...and the drama spikes when Batman realizes how close Tim was to walking away from the danger and responsibility.
But Batman and crew have no way of knowing what’s really going on.
That’s right: Tim Drake isn’t dead at all. He’s being held captive by Mr. Oz, the same mysterious, robed figure who’s been lurking in the shadows since DC’s Rebirth initiative kicked off, and who recently captured Doomsday in Action Comics.