Death of the Family Review: Batman in Detective Comics #15 by John Layman, Jason Fabok & Andy Clarke (New 52)

Death of the Family Review: Batman Detective Comics #15

“The Dirt Nap” (and “Love in Bloom”)

Published by DC Comics

Written by John Layman

Art by Jason Fabok (and Andy Clarke)

Coloured by Jeromy Cox (and Blond)

The Plot

Poison Ivy is buried alive with no one to help her.  The scene flashes back over the past month where it shows her marriage with Clayface.  Presently, Clayface is viciously attacking Batman frantically asking about his wife.  Batman believes that Clayface must be under Poison Ivy’s spell, but he lacks the physiology to really be under her control.  Batman escapes and does so with some potential evidence as to what’s going on with Clayface.  Meanwhile, Penguin is nervously waiting for his meeting with the Joker and he leaves Ogilvy to take care of the empire while he’s away.  Batman determines what’s going on with Clayface and successfully faces off with him.  An enraged Clayface makes his escape.  “Not long thereafter,” Ogilvy saves Poison Ivy and lets his intentions by known to her.

The Breakdown

The first two issues of Layman’s run were good in my opinion, but I felt that more had to be done before it could be considered great.  The expectations for Layman were higher than normal because of his brilliant work in Chew.  The characterization and ongoing plot in this issue made me feel that this book is definitely trending in the right direction.  The confrontation between Batman and Clayface took a different turn, which was great considering how many times they’ve fought each other over the years.  This was a Death of the Family tie-in issue, but it didn’t overtake the main story that Layman has been building.  I also really enjoyed the addition of Penguin’s apprehension about meeting the Joker, which happened in back-up story of Batman #14.  I enjoyed how cool Penguin played in that issue, but this comic portrayed his apprehension realistically leading up to that meeting.  It gives the whole Death of the Family storyline much more weight when no one is sloughing off how much crazier he is now.  This issue was efficient at complementing the main story in the Batman title.  Batman’s confrontation with Clayface also didn’t interfere with the Joker storyline either.  That is one thing that makes it difficult to believe in some crossover stories is when a character is in too many places at once and doing way too much.  Layman made it all fit in nicely and still progresses his own story nicely.  Penguin’s upcoming struggle for his empire will be a good story and I want to see how this plays out.  Poison Ivy’s ingenuity was good to see because I like seeing an old dog doing a new trick.  Also, I always enjoy watching Batman doing his detective work and figuring things out…it’s just something I don’t get tired of.  I enjoyed the art and I want to see what happens at the end of the back-up story…I’m a sucker for those damn cliffhangers.  Layman did a good job of Batman’s personality.  His inner-voice wasn’t too dark and I liked the bantering aspect of it because it wasn’t too out of character.  It’s these kinds of touches that I was expecting from Layman.  I actually thought for a little bit that Batman was obsessing about something that wasn’t really an issue.  I’m probably the only one that fell for this, but I enjoyed the misdirection.

BUT…

I’m not a fan of alternative batsuits.  I don’t hate them and I don’t rag on them thinking they look horrible, but I just don’t like them in general.  The special Joker cover might make it seem like it’s more of a necessary issue to the Death of the Family storyline than it really is.  That being said, I liked it and I’m glad it didn’t overwhelm the main story in this book.  However, I can see people buying it expecting more action from the Joker storyline, especially with Joker’s face wrapped around the book.  Clayface affiliated with Poison Ivy doesn’t really look like Clayface, but more like Swamp (ish) Thing.  I know I’m not supposed to like Ogilvy because he’s a villain and all, but I think he’s a tool nonetheless.  The cliffhanger at the end of the back-up story had a caption that said “Fin?” and this left me wondering if we’re going to see a resolution to this next issue or if it’ll be sorted out further down the road.  However, I’m just an impatient person in general sometimes.  Emperor Penguin? I actually found that page to be funny and I’m not sure if that was intentional or not.

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

Buy It.  I think that this book will hit its stride soon.  It wasn’t a drop dead awesome book, but it was better than the previous two issues.  There were some things that really worked well for me in this book.  I know some people are expecting a home-run from Layman because of his previous work and I do think that this book will be a solid monthly pick-up when he does hit his stride and the story really takes off.  He also neatly ties into the Joker storyline while using that to progress parts of his own storyline.

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