Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Detective Comics #24 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I know I usually rave about this series, but, at this point, I'm close to quitting my job and handing out copies of it on the street like an evangelist.

One of the things that I liked about this arc was that Layman didn't fall into the usual trap of putting a lot of emphasis on the inevitable revelation of the villain's identity.  It was pretty clear from the start that Caldwell was Wrath.  The real twist was that he was attacking the GCPD not to drum up business for his weapons business, but to kill them in revenge for the GCPD's murder of his father.  It's a great twist, not only because it completes the portrait of Caldwell as Bruce through the mirror, darkly, but also because, in the end, it turns this arc into a story about the GCPD.  As Officer Wallace says to Batman at this end of this arc, Wrath is on the GCPD, not Batman.  Layman even shows his attention to detail by having Caldwell not only use his access to the GCPD to sell them the bullet-proof vests that he uses to try to kill them, but also to use it to erase all trace of his father's murder so that no one makes the connection.  It's a tight, tight story and, by focusing on his motives and not his identity, Layman keeps us guessing in a way that matters, in a way that says something about Gotham and not just the villain.  I actually gasped with glee at the idea of the upcoming "GCPD:  Zero Year" story, because I think Layman will just do amazing things, given his ability to focus on stories that say something about the characters and their world and not just the presenting hijinks perpetrated by the supervillain-of-the-week.

(As a side note, I originally wrote this review on vacation and, since then, I've read some other reviews.  I will say that I generally agree with the consensus that the climactic battle between Wrath and Batman and the GCPD was over-narrated, distracting us from the awesome images that Faibok produced.  A lot of the narrative that does happen -- from Batman telling us that he knew that Gordon would ignore his order to keep the GCPD a good distance from the station to Batman observing that the GCPD needed the win more than he did -- could've been accomplished in other ways, such as through dialogue or images.  Though, even Gordon informing Batman that he knew Wrath would survive the assault felt unnecessary, since it wasn't like they were firing a tank on an unarmed civilian, as opposed to a heavily-armored super-villain.  But, given the complex story that he delivered, I'm willing to forgive him this point.)

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