The second volume of James Tynion’s Rebirth run on Detective Comics continues where Rise of the Batmen finished with Red Robin’s apparent death, the ‘Batmen’ assembled and Jacob Kane firmly locked away by Batman himself. This now leads us to a fresh new arc involving the ‘Victim Syndicate’ – a group of Gothamites who at some point have been involved in the crossfire during a Batman incident and have been injured or negatively impact in a serious way. It’s a very interesting concept to draw on and it works, it really works.
To begin with Tynion reminds us of what’s gone on and what the current situation is with the Bat-family in general , Bruce and Kate (Batwoman) head to a gala to recruit Batwing to act as a replacement to Red Robin, especially in the technological department. This is another remind that although Batman hired Batwoman as a ‘partner’ no is ever equal to Batman and Kate was not aware of the true purpose of the trip – she more than likely would not have turned up if she knew that was the case. Secondly, Batwoman does not get on with Batwing initially as she feels he is not able to understand the motives of what the Bat-family is for without going through the trauma of what Batman, Batwoman, Spoiler, Orhpan and the late Red Robin have been through – a powerful theme in Victim Syndicate which will be explored later.
It doesn’t take long for Tynion to introduce the arc’s group of villains, and yes it’s a team to match up with the Batmen, The Victim Syndicate. In all honesty, they are bit of a mismatch, some look menacing (the leader, Madame Crow, Mr. Noxious) and others look a bit tame. But, as you get to know what they’re about you get a sense that that is the whole point. The premise of the Victim Syndicate are all the people who are hurt indirectly from Batman and his escapades – the people no one every thinks about or cares after the fact. They want revenge and they have a pretty good cause for it too which really resonated with me. A villain with a realistic and understandable motive is a villain that’s easy to get to grips with an enjoy in a comic.
What the Victim Syndicate stand for is the impact Batman has on Gotham whether he intends to do it or not, TVS’s presence is an immediate threat in terms of violence but for Bruce himself it’s the idea of what he’s cursed going unnoticed to people around him – most prominently – Spoiler – who appears very prominently in Volume 2, The Victim Syndicate, as she should be as both a member of the Batmen and Tim Drake’s girlfriend that really gets under his skin and drives the storyline. This is where Tynion really nails it, the villains are right; despite all the good intentions of Batman people always end up getting hurt and from time to time even worse.
Aside from exploring this very interesting theme, The Victim Syndicate also looks at the good Batman has done – many of the Batmen come from broken homes and Batman gives them a purpose to move forward with their lives. However, this quickly comes back to Batman’s motives – sure he’s got these people back on their feet but did Bruce do it for them, him or both? This again is a clever idea Tynion has planted for the readers of Batman fans – is Batman just a completely selfish person deep down? Or is the ‘mission’ a genuinely good cause to follow and he is doing the ‘right thing’?
Anyway, it’s best for the reader to decide, these are just my 2 cents.
The arc’s conclusion is an exciting one that does leave more questions than answers (in a good way) and also paves way to the next plot line which looks to be the return of The Colony. Batwoman has a significant portion about two thirds through the book which explores her ‘Year One’ in Gotham as a prelude to what is now going on with The Colony. Tynion is doing a decent job of writing Batwoman and shining so much light on her as well as Spoiler which gives the male/female aspect a really good balance. However, his portrayal of Spoiler is often one of a ‘victim’ or an annoyance rather than the strong, humorous character of old – hopefully in time this will improve.
The artwork in Detective Comics has so far been fair – the use of colours and background art has been excellent but my one gripe is the characters themselves who do not keep a constant look throughout. Sometimes they’re great and others poor and I’d prefer just ‘good’ throughout, especially when I read in a single sitting (which I often do).
Overall, Batman Detective Comics, Volume 2: The Victim Syndicate is a very good book with a solid, well written storyline from start to finish. The artwork at times lets it down but that is nitpicking and it’s not a big deal. Would definitely recommend this book if you’re into Rebirth.
Last update on 2021-05-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API