I review Detective Comics #23, written by John Layman with art from Jason Fabok, published of course by DC Comics.
Detective Comics #23
Story: John Layman | Art: Jason Fabok | Cover: Jason Fabok and Emilo Lopez | Publisher: DC Comics | Price: $3.99
Alfred is forced to confront the Anti-Batman known as the Wrath! Taking care of Batman all these years has left Alfred with more than a few tricks up his sleeve, but will they be enough?
Detective Comics #23 is the second part in The Wrath storyline, which debuted in #22. (The annual was technically a standalone as it focused on a different villain, despite a cameo by the Wraith). This issue sees another fairly solid instalment, with some great elements inside.
Jason Fabok is shaping up to be an incredibly strong artist. I’ve loved his work for Detective Comics so far and this issue is no different, the first few pages are incredibly awesome, and when I first saw them on the IGN preview released earlier this week, I decided that this issue would be an insta-pull for me, purely on the basis of the art. Sure, Fabok is not Capullo-level good, but he’s one of the better artists on the Bat-Books at the moment, and certainly impresses with this issue.
The storyline’s pretty solid as well, and offers a strong continuation with a pretty interesting cliffhanger. Whilst this series does bare similarities to Night of the Owls, I think that this current arc from Detective Comics is certainly impressing in its own right, turning into a strong Batman story that not only gives time for Batman in the limelight, but also Alfred Pennyworth, who gets plenty to say and do in this issue. The confrontation between Alfred and Wrath does actually happen in this issue and is not a case of a false-advertising solicit, even if it may be briefer than some may be anticipating.
The issue itself opens with a quick recap of what has been happening in previous issues, as well as touching briefly on Scorn, who was an ally of Wrath. Through this we learn that Wrath has been recruiting prisoners in his goal to rid the city of the cops, and this is enhanced by the fact that criminals he chooses have a hatred for the GCPD. This sets the stage for a confrontation between Batman and Wrath, and presented my major problem for this issue – the ending of this first conflict was clichéd, and a disappointment – but the only thing that I felt was weak about this issue.
What was interesting about the Wrath storyline and the comparisons with Night of the Owls is that Layman opted to reveal the identity of the main figure targeting Bruce a lot sooner than Snyder, and it certainly pays off, creating a great atmospheric tension. The issue also allowed Bruce to take centre stage for one of the few times action wise without the Batsuit in the New 52, and we see a pretty awesome sequence between him and Caldwell, who seems intent on buying a portion of Wayne Industries despite Bruce’s best efforts to stop him.
The backup issue is also worthy of note, as it allows for an interesting focus on both the Man-Bat and Wrath, tying into the storyline very well – and allows for one of the stronger moments of this series.
All said, Detective Comics #23 is great fun, and really worth picking up – it’s something that I urge all Batman fans to pick up if they’re not already – Layman and Fabok are doing great on this series and I can’t wait to see how this arc unfolds.