Updates From The Bat-Cave: Detective Comics Annual #12, Batgirl #16, and Red Robin #18

Things return to something resembling normalcy after last week’s non-week. It isn’t the grandest shipping week ever, but it’s solid…and pretty much the rest of December is looking good.

Detective Comics Annual #12

This year’s annuals for Batman and Detective Comics are halves of a whole, a two-part story that stretches across both books. This time around, both Batmen (Dick and Bruce) are on the road together, taking action for the Batman Incorporated initiative. They arrive in France looking to set up a Batman of Paris and find a likely candidate, the parkour expert Nightrunner. However, their appearance in the city coincides with the assassination of prominent French politicians, making it a working vacation in more ways than one. The story also involves Renee Montoya, the Question, which is always a good thing.

Annuals are a strange creature. So often, they’re just overpriced, oversized filler. However, once upon a time, comic readers actually looked forward to these things…and here’s hoping David Hine’s story fits that bill.

Batgirl #16

Every month, Batgirl continues to be one of the more underrated books in the Bat-Universe of titles. It’s light without seeming silly, but still carries the dark tone that all good Batman books have (i.e., people still die and someone in a Bat-costume has to solve the mystery of their murder). It also has (as has been said before) a nice almost-Spider-Man vibe at times, with Stephanie juggling her crime-fighting career alongside school, her family, and her social life. At the same time, it rarely falls prey to the clichés of the female hero…and thank goodness for that: the comic industry doesn’t really need another story about a teenaged female hero out to prove something to the boys’ club.

Last month, Stephanie tried to get back on the horse and return to her normal routine. But then, wouldn’t you know it? A mysterious murder happened on campus. It’s always the way it goes…

The difference is that this time, the ersatz Robin-turned-Batgirl has run afoul of a group of shadowy cultist types…and they’ve framed her for the murder. So not only does she have that to deal with, but she has to duck Gotham’s “finest” in the process.

Red Robin #18

Rounding out what seems to be Sidekick Week is Red Robin, another book that delivers a solid experience every month.

Last issue had some great moments, from the unheralded return of Cassandra Cain (still mysterious, but clearly back in the fold) to Tim and Lynx’s illicit rooftop kiss to the reunion of Tim and Bruce (complete with a sappy-but-sweet father/son embrace…but, y’know, in costumes and stuff).

This month brings both the old and the new. Continuing the subplot of Red Robin’s investigation into the Unternet, Tim travels to Russia seeking information…but tangles with a new vigilante named the Promise, as well as former Teen Titan (and Russian, as if the name didn’t give it away) Red Star.

Also shipping this week: Knight & Squire #3 (which will be covered when it’s released in trade), as well as collected editions for Azrael (collecting #1-6), Batman Chronicles (Vol. 10, collecting Detective Comics #78-81, Batman #18 and 19 , and World’s Finest Comics #11), Batman: The Widening Gyre (which is a hardcover collection of the Kevin Smith-penned mini-series), and Superman/Batman (reprinting #64 and 68-71). All of those are trade paperbacks except for The Widening Gyre.

Next week is pretty big business, with Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman: Orphans, Birds of Prey, and Time Masters, as well as some more collected editions

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