I write a delayed review of the second Detective Comics Annual from DC Comics, written by John Layman and Joshua Williamson.
DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #2
Story: John Layman, Joshua Williamson | Art: Scott Eaton, Jamie Mendoza | Cover: Andy Clark | Publisher: DC Comics | Price: $4.99
It’s a terrible, dangerous time to be a cop in Gotham City. At a time when police are being targeted for assassination, Gotham’s Finest also face a threat from within, as a shape-changing identity thief has infiltrated the GCPD and threatens to destroy it from within. Will he unravel the mystery behind this secretive killer before he loses any more of the few allies he has left on the force?
So, Detective Comics. It’s a series I’ve been following since the Harper Row-featured issue of #21 and has been something that I’ve been enjoying a lot. It’s nice to read a Batman series written by somebody other than Scott Snyder – don’t get me wrong, Snyder is my favourite writer of comics at the moment, not just from DC – alongside the likes of Jeff Lemire (Green Arrow) and Mark Waid (Daredevil), but it’s nice to read a different take on the character every once in a while and John Layman is more than capable of handling Detective Comics, as is evident from this Annual, which manages to not only tell a storyline that comfortably stands alone (yet also briefly features an appearance of the Wraith), and also brings Harvey Bullock to the forefront, focusing just as much on the character as the Dark Knight himself if you include the backup stories.
The issue itself is set in a similar time period to the previous issues of Detective Comics and deals with a new threat to Gotham City – a shape changing identity stealer, and to make matters worse – it’s infiltrated the GCPD. The plot allows for a great premise, and whilst one could argue we’re having a lot of shape-changing villains featured in the main Bat-Books recently (with Clayface in Snyder’s Batman and featuring in a whole new Arc with Batman: The Dark Knight’s latest issue), Layman (and Williamson) allows for a fresh take on the story – and features a character who isn’t actually Clayface. Structured through three connected short stories, Detective Comics Annual #2 proves to be a very solid comic – but nothing that is featured here will blow your mind, like Snyder’s Batman has done in the past. It’s kind of hard to write this review without comparing the two series – as they’re the main Bat-Books that I’m following, not having the budget to tackle The Dark Knight, but I’d certainly say that this is a very solid series, and as this issue proves, is capable of standing on its own without tying into Zero Year (although this does reference briefly the Joker and Clayface’s attack on Gotham in the main Batman book) to make people feel more inclined to pick it up.
The artwork itself is pretty solid, with Scott Eaton on the pencils and Jamie Mendoza on the colours. One small gripe that I have about the otherwise awesome cover is that at least in my opinion – Batman’s massive chin stands out if you flip it upside down, and as a result it feels out of place. However, that doesn’t stop the interior artwork from being pretty strong – across all three shorts, entitled Face in the Crowd, Contained Multitudes and Harvey Bullock, This Is Your Life, with the latter in particular, story-wise, providing a great look into the character and giving the characters of the GCPD, who haven’t received that much attention, its best spotlight since the start of the New 52 from what I’ve read.
The main story itself may feel a little rushed in places, particularly towards the end – but it’s a solid one-shot that has me really looking forward to next week’s issue, and if you like Harvey Bullock as a character, or don’t mind shape shifting Batman stories, then this issue will be worth the price that you’ve paid for it.