James Tynion IV has been working on assorted Bat-titles over the past few years and either co-writing or doing various fill-in issues during Scott Snyder’s run on “Batman.” Now he’s being given his shot at the brass ring as the new writer for “Detective Comics” and has come up with a novel approach for the title: To make it a team book. Batman finds out that he and his comrades are being surveilled by an unknown faction courtesy of some advanced drones in the city. With his entire family under threat, Batman enlists the help of Kate “Batwoman” Kane to help train the likes of Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface (!?) to prepare against this unknown threat.
To the writer’s credit, this threat is revealed in fairly short order over the course of the seven issues collected here. There’s also a novel idea behind it as the thought of Batmen being trained to military specifications does sound like it’d give the Gotham-based vigilantes a genuine fight. The problem is that in order to make this work, Tynion has to break one of Batwoman’s key relationships in the process. It does produce some genuine drama but it also takes away one of the aspects that made her character unique amongst the other members of the Bat-family.
The story itself is solidly constructed with some decent twists and a nice escalation of tension right through the end. Of course, stories about Batman facing an unknown threat that has also been developed to specifically counter him are a dime-a-dozen at this point. I do think the team dynamic does help this particular take on that idea stand out a bit, and Tynion does have a good handle on the characters he’s writing. Putting Clayface on the team is easily the most inspired part about this book as a nice balance is found between the villain’s psychotic tendencies, desire to reform, and newfound showbiz aspirations. Still, “Rise of the Batman” is very much like the art from Eddy Barrows and Alvaro Martinez: Well-constructed and detailed enough to satisfy, but too familiar to really get excited about.