Detective Comics #13 opens a new arc with a new writer at the helm. Fans have been salivating to see Chew creator John Layman’s take on the Caped Crusader, and Major Spoilers has the review.
Previously in Detective Comics: Couldn’t tell you. I did not read Tony S. Daniel’s run on Detective Comics past issue 3 or 4. I imagine it involved Batman, doing some sort of detective work, possibly with an oversized magnifying glass.
OFF WITH A BANG
Detective Comics #13 covers a lot of ground over the course of one night. With the Batman purposefully distracted by a myriad of crimes all across Gotham, the Penguin plans the assassination of Bruce Wayne. He also plans to supplant Wayne as Gotham’s favored son with some philanthropic shenanigans, trying to snake the naming rights of a new medical wing at the very last moment. This last bit reads a little false (it happens waaaaay too quickly), as does the generic new “Ghost Dragon” gang of assassins, but Layman nails every last bit, from Nightwing and Alfred’s interactions with the Bat to Batman’s meticulous physical and mental dismantling of his foes. For your extra dollar, DC delivers a backup story with Layman handling the script and art by Andy Clarke. This focuses on Ogilvy, one of the Penguin’s henchmen, and on the challenges a career criminal faces in Gotham City. It is a nice little story with a deliciously cold payoff. I’m hoping we see more of Ogilvy in the main story.
John Layman starts the issue off strong with a four panel juxtaposition of Batman’s brutal battery with Bruce Wayne’s medical philanthropy. Layman makes his themes clear from the beginning. Throughout the issue, Layman plays with how the dual roles of Batman and Bruce Wayne function in the city of Gotham. He also reflects this dual nature with the character of the Penguin – another wealthy city scion who has his own double life. Just how Batman balances the Bruce Wayne portion of his persona is the crux of this issue. For a first issue, this is heady stuff, and Layman sets the tone with a confident economy of storytelling and character beats.
GOOD ENOUGH, BUT WHY NOT GAMBLE FOR GREAT?
Jason Fabok’s art isn’t quite as unique as Layman’s script. He is working in the usual superhero style, and while he doesn’t do anything wrong, I wish DC could have taken a bigger risk on this book. Fabok’s art looks nice; he gets a strong two page spread at the beginning of the issue, and his action is clean. Chris Burnham’s work on Batman Incorporated really helps set the tone on that book, and I would like for something similar with Detective Comics. Again, nothing against Fabok. His work is perfectly competent in this issue. I just want something different.
BOTTOM LINE: DID NOT DISAPPOINT
I was highly anticipating Layman’s début on Detective Comics and this issue did not disappoint. It reminded me of Scott Snyder’s excellent Batman #1 in how it showed the depth of the writer’s understanding for the character of Batman, while providing plenty of action for the casual comic reader. Detective Comics #13 earns a place on the pull list and an almost perfect four-and-a-half out of five stars. Check it out.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!