Thoughts on Detective Comics #955 – “League of Shadows Part 5: Fists of Fury”

Detective Comics #955

It’s Orphan versus the entire league of shadows as she tries to save her family and friends in Detective Comics #955.

Detective Comics #955

Detective Comics #955 Cover“League of Shadows Part 5: Fists of Fury”
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Marcio Takara
Colorist: Marcello Maiolo

Cover Price: $2.99

Release Date: April 26, 2017

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Collected in: Detective Comics v3: League of Shadows

“League Of Shadows” part five! All of her teammates are broken-or dead. There’s only one fighter left to stand between the League of Shadows and Gotham City’s total destruction. This is Cassandra Cain’s greatest battle-the fight she was born for! Do not miss the most astounding action sequence of the year!

General Thoughts

The penultimate issue of “The League of Shadows” brings the focus squarely back on Cassandra Cain, which isn’t too much of a surprise.  She is the only member of the team not currently captured, which means it’s a lot easier to focus on her.  Throughout this entire arc the emphasis has been on figuring out what Cassandra’s purpose is.  Not just within the bat-team, but in life in general.  That starts to come full circle this issue, and presumably next issue she will be at least partially free from having to worry about her mother’s influence.

Despite most of the team being out of play they do get some page-time this week, and that mostly comes in the form of Batwoman, Batwing and Azrael explaining how the plot has escalated.  This is not the strongest point of the issue as it is largely exposition by characters who can’t do much of anything.  I am interested by Batwing’s defeatist attitude, though, and I suspect that is something we will revisit after the arc is up.

On the other end of the spectrum we have Ulysses, the tech genius for the Colony, doing a bit of a “I’m not really a bad guy” bad guy exposition.  He has designed a targeted form of napalm, essentially, and wants to use it indiscriminately.  His creepy obsession with the apparently departed Tim Drake is interesting and suitably disturbing.  Writer James Tynion IV has really gone out of his way to make Ulysses unlikable, and it has genuinely paid off.  I hope he has a suitably painful defeat in his near future.

And so we circle back to Orphan, and by extension Shiva.  As villains go Shiva has always been a fascinating one, when written by the right team.  There is a tendency to write her just as another martial arts villain with a skewed code of honor, but James Tynion IV has dug a bit deeper than that.  His version suggests that most of the time she is merely toying with her opponents to keep herself entertained, even if that means losing from time to time.  She knows she can win at any point, and her opponents tend to know that, too.  It may not add too much depth to the character, but it does at least make her story interesting.  Her lack of a relationship with Orphan is where the real meat is, and what makes this arc worth diving into.  I expect next issue will be full of details about that.

Orphan versus the League of Shadows in Detective Comics #955

Art

This issue sees Marcio Takara continue the line work with Marcello Maiolo coloring.  This is a sharp departure from the first half of the arc artistically, and not always for the better.  There are some strong moments throughout the story, with particular attention on Orphan fighting the League of Shadow assassins, but they are scattered.  It’s not bad work, but it doesn’t gel with what we’ve gotten in the arc so far and that is jarring.  The artist hand-off actually occurred last issue, but I didn’t get to do a write-up on that one so I’m mentioning it here instead.

Final Thoughts

As we reach towards the end of the “League of Shadows” arc it continues to shine as one of the best stories coming out of DC right now.  I think, however, that it might be a bit overlong at six issues, and there is a bit of unnecessary padding showing through in most chapters.  The growth of Cassandra is deserving of praise, even if it is coming at the expense of the rest of the team being shuffled off the board for a bit.  There are weaknesses here, and they become increasingly prevalent the longer the story goes on, but despite that this is still an excellent arc.

 

Detective Comics #955

Detective Comics #955
9

Detective Comics #955 Final Score

9/10

    Pros

    • Orphan continues to get good development
    • Ulysses is being setup to be a villain you want to get beatup
    • Shiva is truly menacing

    Cons

    • Art is a drastic shift from first half of the arc
    • The rest of team Batman don't have much to do