The last time we really got to see Spoiler, Christopher Sebela was teamed up on writing with James Tynion IV with Carmen Carnero on penciling (refer back to issue #957). Well, Spoiler is back and so is Sebela and Carnero. This is going to be the start of a good run, I can feel it. Join me as we journey into part 1 of Utopia. Spoilers ahead, no pun intended… Or is there?
What is this all about?
Ahhh, remember those good old days eating cheeseburgers atop a high-rise with Tim Drake and feeling that warm orange glow of the sunset gleaming over Gotham City? Stephanie Brown does. The issue starts off with a flashback to this very thing mixed with flirty banter between the two. A reminiscence of life then, the problems, the decisions to make, how to tell Batman he wants to quit (at least for the time being) and go to college. The comforting kiss between two lovers and the encouraging words not to worry, no matter what happens. The bright, fading sunbeams squeezing out from between the buildings and sincere against the back drop of Gotham. Not a light we are usually used to seeing this city in.
Glum, tattered, broken Monstertown. Quarantined by Argus. Stephanie sneaking in, donning the cowl of Spoiler. She easily slips past Argus’ thugs to rendezvous with Lonnie Machin. A man, who unlike Tim, unconvincingly preaches for a better world. The world that is different and better than anything Batman could envision. Their secret, yet not-so-secret, meeting is quickly uncovered and they find themselves surrounded at gunpoint by Argus’ men. After Spoiler and Lonnie manhandle the thugs, Lonnie sets off a trap he had previously set because he had planned for some kind of intrusion. A trap that kills two of Argus’ men by burying them under an immense pile of bricks that fell through the ceiling. Both he and Spoiler operated like it was nothing. In fact, Lonnie simply sprays the anarchy symbol on the pile of bricks that buried them. I understand these guys are unscrupulous, but to me, that’s a red flag. Our true DC heroes aren’t killers. Nevertheless, Batman is on to their little engagement and is tailing them.
They go into an unexploited train tunnel. Stephanie gives a brief history of the tunnels explaining how they were built, then abandoned because they were mistakenly built too small for any subway car to actually use. They make it to a large, hidden, underground room that is filled with tents, trees, a greenhouse, and looks to be self-sustaining with people camped/living there. Lonnie shows Stephanie that anarchy is not about chaos, it’s about “not accepting how the world works just because that’s how it has always been.” Lonnie seems like he is a good guy on the outside, but I’m not buying it. There is something fishy about him and I’m thinking things are going to go south pretty quick. But we’ll have to find out next time in “Monsters Unleashed.”
In the midst of this story, Clayface is nearby running modest tasks. He returns to Dr. October who needs him to stay in clay form long enough for the moral center of his brain to degrade making him less stable as a good guy. She needs to chart that degradation in hopes of a cure for him. Batman is there (before he begins to tail Spoiler and Lonnie) in case he loses all control.
Tynion IV and Sebela are setting up something that I think has the potential for a good story. Though I can’t say I like Lonnie as a character in general. He has one of those charismas that you really hope gets bitch slapped off to the side and then forgotten about. I don’t foresee that happening right now, but one can hope. The story itself, however, is moving right along. I am intrigued as to what Stephanie is getting herself into. To me, it seems very cult-like and she’s too naïve to see it right now. The art in this issue is very nice. I’m a Carmen Carnero fan and I think her work is fantastic. She has an exact unique style, with thick lines and great detail. She is the perfect comic book artist. The panels in this issue pull you in and that’s what I like to see/feel. Include this in your weekly pull.
Reviewed by Justin Swenson
Detective Comics #963
Written by James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela
Art by: Carmen Carnero, Ulises Arreola, Kelly Fitzpatrick
Release Date: August 23, 2017