Stephen initially alerted me to the new creative team consisting of John Layman (Chew) and Jason Fabok (Batman: The Dark Knight) starting this week (October 3rd) on Detective Comics #13 in our ‘Wednesday Watchlist’ feature. And by the time I’d covered the story by Friday and made my way to the comic store on Saturday, I was positively excited.
Given how playful Chew is I’d expected more from Layman and whilst the issue is fun, it has none of the dark undertones necessary for a great Batman tale. Whilst The Penguin is threatening, ultimately he’s a crooked businessman/gangster. Perhaps this is a little unfair; it is only the first of an eight issue run.
Where Layman succeeds is in character interaction – Batman and Alfred, Batman and Nightwing (who makes a welcome but brief cameo), The Penguin and Ogilvy (and later with his companion in the backup) – all demonstrate a great understanding of the characters and their history, something which wasn’t always apparent in Tony Daniel’s run, which had a rapid decline in quality after the excellent first issue.
My main criticism is that the issue is fairly unambitious – except for the backup story, which portrays the Penguin’s right hand man, Ogilvy, as one to watch. Andy Clarke’s artwork and style was in keeping with the tone of the story.
Whilst Batman is kicking as and taking names, Bruce Wayne is making a number of charitable donations, actions which upset Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin, who distracts the Batman by staging a number of crimes across Gotham in an attempt to assassinate Bruce Wayne and upstage him in the philanthropy stakes.
When The Penguin gets one of his wish and realises an attempt on Wayne’s life will detract from his charity, the hit is cancelled – except his hired assassins, the Ghost Dragons, would consider that dishonourable.
And although the cliff hanger is great, the resolution is fairly predictable – The Penguin to the rescue. How it plays out will be the reason I return next month.
Role on Snyder’s ‘Death of the Family’ next week.