Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #19 and Deadpool #7!
In a different world, this would be Detective Comics # 900. However, since the DC universe relaunched only a year and a half ago, they won’t renumber, even for something as monumental as a 900th issue. So instead, we have this special 80-page anniversary issue, with a main story cleverly titled “The 900”. While this may continue some plot threads from John Layman and Jason Fabok’s “Emperor Penguin” story, the focus is primarily on the New 52 appearance of Kirk and Francine Langstrom, and whenever the Langstroms are present, Bat-fans know to expect an appearance from Man-Bat at some point.
Layman’s main story is a fun done-in-one involving the citizens of “The 900”, a residential area in Gotham. After a mysterious air-borne virus starts turning citizens into bat creatures, Batman flies in to investigate. Like with his previous issues of Detective, Layman’s voice with Batman is phenomenal, and there’s even a great touch on the status of Batman and his allies post “Death Of The Family” (which may be the only reference we’ll get from those events for some time). After subduing some transformed citizens and determining the cause of the virus to be Talia, Batman runs across Batwoman, who’s in the process of escorting the Langstroms through the city so that Kirk can administer the cure. After explaining that his serum had been stolen from him by some mysterious thief, Kirk then injects himself with a special version of the serum that acts as an airborne antidote. However, the catch is that it turns him into a monstrous creature with no hope of being turned back into a human.
Detective Comics definitely caught me by surprise, mainly because up until this point I had assumed that Man-Bat was already established as a Batman villain. However, I was very pleased with the direction Layman took with him for this new origin, and I especially enjoyed the fact that many of the mysteries presented in the main story are revealed in the back-ups, which, with the exception of the Bane story by James Tynion IV, are all written by Layman. While they focused on smaller characters from Layman’s run, they fit nicely into the book’s main story. I also really appreciated the fact that Layman tied this book into the other goings on in Batman’s life. There’s a sense of connectedness with the other Batman titles that’s not really present in any of the other Bat-family books (or even other DC titles for that matter).
Jason Fabok handles the art on the main story of the book, and as usual, the man is a machine. Superior to even the mighty David Finch, his art is incredibly detailed and marvelous to behold. It’s almost superhuman that he’s able to turn this book in on time, but I’m glad he can, as he’s quickly becoming not only one of my favorite Batman artists, but artist in general. The back ups are drawn by Andy Clarke, Mikel Jamin, and others, and there’s a ton of excellent pin up work by other artists, including an excellent piece by Alex Maleev.
Detective Comics #19 may not say “900” on it, but damn, it sure feels like a massive 900th issue. Some may balk at the $8 price tag, but once you see that there isn’t a single reprint or cover gallery (looking at you, Marvel) you’ll immediately understand that you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. While I’m still not interested in Emperor Penguin character or story, this issue definitely ensures that I’ll be keeping an eye on Detective Comics under Layman and Fabok’s watch.
Now that the zombie presidents are dealt with, what’s Deadpool going to do now? Why go back in time of course! Lovingly poking fun at Marvel universe of the early 80’s, Deadpool #7 pairs the Merc With A Mouth with the “Demon In A Bottle” era Tony Stark, and his sole purpose is to carry out the devil’s work. Well not a devil, but a lesser demon looking to collect enough souls to gain power in Hell. To do this, he appears to Deadpool and tasks him with a very important mission: get Iron Man drunk.
Writers Gary Duggan and Brian Posehn throw a lot of laughs at the beginning of this issue, but unfortunately by the end they start to lose steam. The opening pages at the Daily Bugle with Peter Parker trying to pitch a news story are the highlights, as well as Flash Thompson parking in a handicap space. Guest artist Scott Koblish really nails the look of early 80’s Marvel, and makes you feel as if you found this comic in the quarter bin of your local shop. In fact, if the paper quality was the same as those old books, it would be easy to mistake this book for one found at a yard sale.
As great as the opening is, it ends up hurting the rest of the issue as the two comedy writers try to wrap up the story. The issue starts to sum up events rapid fire while also getting in the gags, and the end result makes the entire story suffer. This is a shame, because I was really looking forward to this issue from the interviews I read with Posehn and Duggan. I hope this is just a fluke issue, as Deadpool has been a really fun book that hasn’t taken itself too seriously. Perhaps next issue they’ll get back on track, but as it stands right now, this one was a real disappointment.