DETECTIVE COMICS #972
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Miguel Mendonça, Diana Egea, Jason Wright, and Sal Cipriano
Edited by Chris Conroy, Dave Weilgosz, and Brian Cunningham
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: January 10, 2018
Good and evil are choices.
Evil tends to be more seductive and easier than good. Evil is a way to keep everything around you from hurting you as you go through life without establishing empathy or connection. Evil is a very simplistic viewpoint in the pursuit of keeping everything around you to your liking. It is endless sameness at the expense of all else.
Good, on the other hand, is infinite in its complexity. Where evil is passive, good is a constant activity — something humanity has been discovering from Aristotle (“the good for man is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue”) all the way down to Ms. Marvel (“Good is not a thing you are. It’s a thing you do.”).
The hard choices are the ones that challenge you to be good. It’s a constant evolution of self to become more in tune with the world around you, rather than forcing the world to adapt to you. Basil Karlo is both man and monster in this issue, desperately trying to mask the pain of his growing goodness with the destructive simplicity of the evil he’s used to doing. It’s easier that way. Better to not care, because consequences and change are difficult.
I missed the story of how Clayface came to be part of the Bat-family (and will probably look that up eventually), but I’ve found his story intriguing since the beginning of the Rebirth era. Clayface may be the one capable of changing his shape, but Basil Karlo is the one undergoing the transformation.
Speaking of transformations, wow does Miguel Mendonça’s and Diana Egea’s art look amazing. I love all the little details on Clayface throughout the issue. The silently screaming faces on his body are unnerving. The backgrounds are a bit sparse, but Jason Wright uses subtle, simple color palettes to evoke the mood in those instances. Sal Cipriano’s lettering is top-notch as always, never illegible or covering up important parts of the art, which I suppose the lack of detailed backgrounds helps with after all.
More than anything, I’m impressed that I’ve come to care about what happens to Clayface. I’m also impressed that Tynion has crafted such a great relationship between Basil and Cassandra Cain. The other members of the bat-team are his allies and they want to help him, but Cass is the only one who is truly his friend… a choice she made to actively care, to be good to him. Time will tell what choice Clayface makes.
The Verdict: 9.5/10