Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Philippe Briones and Allen Passalaqua
There are very few things on this Earth that one can call perfect, if any. When I finished reading Detective Comics #974 I truly felt that I had found one of them. “Knights Fall” is one of the single best comics that I’ve ever read… and I’ve read A LOT!
From the front cover, reminiscent of the classic A Death In The Family to the shocking double cliffhangers from pages 20, and 21, this comic delivers… in spades.
Clayface is dead, shot through the head by Batwoman. As one would expect, her teammates are shocked, and angry. Tim can truly see his world unravelling. The Dark Batman, his future self, had warned him of this, and told the Gotham Knights that this could be the beginning of their end. Batman, of course is furious, but the realest, strongest, and most heart-wrenching reaction comes from Cassandra. Orphan and Clayface had been friends, Cass truly believed in him, and feels his loss the deepest of all.
James Tynion has delivered a comic-book with depth, and emotion. The questions it raises about what truly constitutes being a hero are hard-hitting indeed. The brave men and women in the armed forces go out and put their lives on the line every single day. They make the hard choices, when to kill, and when not to, without hesitation. While I abhor Kate’s act, I find it hard to argue against it. Clayface had devolved to his most monstrous form, putting hundreds, if not thousands, of lives at risk. It was him, or Cassandra and the whole population of Gotham City. Did Batwoman really have a choice?
For me, DC Comics have always felt more grounded in reality than those of its competitors. The fact that a philosophical debate of this magnitude is being presented in the pages of a four color funny book should be applauded. Bravo, Mr. Tynion… Bravo!
Now, let’s talk about art. Philippe Brione delivers a beautiful book, ably abetted by hero of the hues Allen Passalaqua. This isn’t an all-action slugfest of a comic, no… this is something more. This is a tale of a family broken in two. Yes, these are spandex wearing super heroes, but you’d be hard pressed to meet a more deep, well-rounded set of human beings anywhere in the real world. The emotions conveyed by this stellar art team are a joy to behold.
“Knights Fall” is the latest in a long line of Detective Comics issues to deliver pure excellence. Yes, Batwoman’s act was awful, but was it truly wrong? This will have ongoing repercussions in the weeks to come, and with the return of my favorite art team of Álvaro Martínez and Raül Fernandez in issue #975, I’m more excited than ever. I’d love to give this issue and 11 out of 10, but naughty DC Comics credited the wrong art team on one of the covers this month, so issue #974 will just have to settle for a perfect:
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment