EP0080: Batman: Detectives Comics, Volume 5: A Lonely Place of Living

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Tim Drake is released with Mister Oz along with the crazy Batman from the future whose determined to kill one of his teammates who happens to be him.

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The hopeful plucky Tim Drake returns along with a dangerous menace, the evil cynical Tim Drake from the future. Find out all about it as we take a look at Batman Detective Comics, Volume Five: A Lonely Place of Living, straight ahead.

This book collects issues 963 to 968 of Detective Comics, and it has two stories in it. First up is the titular story arc, ‘A Lonely Place of Living’, and what happens is Tim Drake in the first volume of James Tynion’s ran on Detective Comics was taken and imprisoned by Mr Oz. If you’ll recall from our previous podcast on The Oz Effect, Mr. Oz was taken out of the picture by the events of that arc, and so they had to go ahead and let Tim Drake, i.e. Red Robin go free.

But being Mr. Oz he had wanted to be sure and teach Tim Drake a lesson, so he also released another prisoner and that was the Batman from the future. And this Batman packs heat and Tim quickly finds out that this Batman isn’t Bruce Wayne, it’s actually Tim Drake who is here to tell his younger self that everything he’s doing and believes in is wrong, and that the future is going to be destroyed and terrible, and the only way to stop it is to kill Batwoman.

And so that’s what he sets out to do. So Tim has to team up with the rest of Batman’s squad of knights to thwart evil future Tim’s plans.In many ways this is a plot we have seen before. One of the big plots in The New 52 Flash was when the Flash had to battle the Future Flash, and it was much the same story line. What does make this work and why I overall like it, though not too much because it’s not all that original, is just the strength of the Tim Drake character and how that comes out in the story, and affirming those sort of virtues that are just at the heart of who he is as a character. So, I really…I did enjoy this one.

The second arc is one where it’s a bit confusing. It’s the two-part story ‘Utopia and Dystopia’ with the ‘A’ being the symbol for Anarchy because it deals with Anarky spelled with a ‘K’ – An anarchist who appeared at the end of the previous volume of Detective Comics to work with Stephanie in her quest to be different from Batman. Stephanie Brown, i.e. Spoiler, and in the pre-New 52 world was also a Batgirl. She is not too happy, and she has a great realization when she’s talking to Anarky. She says, “How come every time I try to do this better than Batman, I just end up doing exactly what Batman would do?” And this really is a nice payoff because in the previous story where she was out on her own, thinking she was doing all this stuff in a way that Batman wouldn’t do, she was doing exactly what Batman would do. And I’m glad she had that realization, it makes her a little less dense and easier to relate to.
But Anarky assures her that they are planning something different, and he makes a philosophical argument as they discuss the nature of anarchy and anarchists, and all of this is leading up to the conclusion of the first issue in the arc where he reveals to her that there’s actually an entire underground city that they’ve set up called Utopia, with everybody equal and taking terms leading, and it’s this supposed to be an ideal society for the poor and downtrodden and outcast. And it’s built in this section of Gotham City known as Monster Town, so they’re not going to be disturbed too much. And Stephanie’s overwhelmed by this when Batman comes out of the shadows, because that’s the sort of thing Batman does, and gives Anarky a chance to tell her the truth or he’s going to make him. And the truth is that Anarky helped out the first victim who was part of the Victim Syndicate and led an attack on Batman’s knights and poisoned Stephanie. And this really does bring Stephanie to senses.

The story ends with her running away before Batman can tell her that Tim Drake is alive because this story did occur before the previous one, and this is somewhat confusing but it’s what happens when you have a shared universe, and you’ve got stories planned that you want to tell and need to tell, but you can’t. You couldn’t have done the previous story after everything had been taken care of with Mr. Oz over in Action Comics. So this one ends up a little bit out of order, but I think in an understandable way. I think she is left really at a cusp of decision about who she’s going to be. Part of her challenge is that really her training, her skills, so much of it has been modified based on Batman, and as much as you want to lodge theoretical criticisms about how he does things, it’s the way she’s learned it, it’s what her instincts are. So her question, I guess, for her as a character going forward is whether she is going to accept that, or if she’s going to try and find a way to chart another course and really find some way to succeed.

The second half of the book, because there are two plots here – it’s the B-plot and it is that Clayface is trying to remain in his Clayface form for longer, and still maintain control of his emotions because he cannot hold it for more than a few hours. And in this case it’s…for most of the arc it’s just watching him slowly melt down under the pressure, and the doctor insisting, “No, you just need to keep at it”, until finally he boils over and explodes. This does lead to a bit of the story that highlights his relationship with Cassie AKA Orphan, which is touching; and I didn’t think it was bad but it wasn’t as good as the stuff with Stephanie and Anarky. Overall, I thought that the book returned to form a bit. I don’t think it was perfect, I don’t think it was great but it was still a pretty good read. So I’ll give Batman Volume Five: A Lonely Place of Living a rating of Somewhat Classy.

Alright, that’s it for now. If you do have a comment email to me: classycomicsguy@gmail.com; follow me on Twitter @ClassyComicsGuy. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham, signing off.

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