Did DC Comics Just Kill A Major Batman Character?

Spoilers ahead for Detective Comics #973, out this week.One member of the Detective Comics cast [...]

Spoilers ahead for Detective Comics #973, out this week.

One member of the Detective Comics cast seems to have been killed by another in this week's issue, presumably setting up a confrontation with Batman that may shake the series' status quo.

In an issue that saw Clayface lose control of his powers and his mind, expanding to massive size and threatening the city, it took most of the comic for Red Robin, Batwoman, Spoiler, and Black Bat to calm him back down.

In the final pages, the rampaging Clayface is stopped when Cassandra Cain fires a chemical into his brain which temporarily restores his human appearance and mental faculties. When it becomes clear that the "cure" is not permanent, though, the former villain tearfully gives up hope, saying that "bad guys don't get happy endings."

Clayface, who has been working with Batman's group since the start of Rebirth almost two years ago, spent what may prove to be his final moments talking with Cassandra, who refused to give up hope and told him that she knew he was good.

From a distance, though, Batwoman did what Clayface believed had to be done, shooting him in the head with a weapon her father had designed specifically to kill him just as he became Clayface again.

(Photo: DC Entertainment)

His actual "death" is not guaranteed -- such is the nature of a cliffhanger like this, especially since the vast majority of the matter coming out the other side of his head does not look like blood -- but given that Batman had ordered Batwoman not to use any Colony weapons in Gotham, there may be consequences even if Basil Karlo somehow survives.

This would not be the first time Detective Comics has featured a shakeup in the ranks: Tim Drake seemingly died at the start of the title's first arc, and was off the board until the recent "A Lonely Place of Living" story arc brought him back. Shortly after Tim's "death," Stephanie Brown left the team and briefly served as an antagonist, questioning whether Batman does more harm than good for those around him.

Whether or not Clayface survives should be answered in Detective Comics #974, out on February 14 from writer James Tynion IV and artist Jesus Merino. You can arrange for a copy at your local comic shop or pre-order a digital version now on ComiXology.