900 issues of Detective Comics and it is pretty good (but pricey)
SPOILERS IN REVIEW SORRY THIS IS UNAVOIDABLE!!!!!
Note: due to this being so big I will break each story into different sections.
I have been enjoying this series a lot since Layman joined and it has become one of my favourites being consistently a good read with strong characterization and a fun plot and when I heard that this would be issue 900 I wandered what Layman would do with the extra sized story and if he’d make it worthy of being issue 900 also I wanted to see what the extras at the back were like and if they were good enough for this book.
The 900 block of Gotham everyone who lives in it are turned to Man-bats and the disease is slowly spreading out, Batman goes to fight them and tries to find a cure but when he calls for help from the rest of the Bat family they do not respond.
Man bat birth of a Family
Francine Langstrom mourns her husband and talks about his life and what he did
Bane prepares his army and tells them about their new enemy the court of owls and what he has against them.
Mr Combustible raids Gotham during the Man-bat attack.
Through a blue lens
Some cops discuss their view of Batman after the Man-bat epidemic.
This was a good story and was an interesting tale and well it reintroduced a classic Batman villain and yes as seen on the other side of the gate-fold cover it’s Man-bat but the way we lead up to that is interesting. This is the main plot of the book and the one that all save the Bane story tie-in to so obviously this has to be the story with the most punch it does have that as it’s a big action scene with quite a few twists in it as the case with the Man-bat epidemic and what Batman does and what he runs into. This is a fun story with a lot of interesting twists and it re-introduces a major Batman villain to the DC U but now on to a more detailed review of it.
What Layman packs into the story isn’t just about the Man-bat plot it is the first book I have actually seen show the aftermath of DOTF and I thank Layman for doing this as I was disappointed when this wasn’t covered over in Batman although I feel the reaction of the two characters that appear is a little forced but I’m still happy this happened even if the characterisation is a little off in one of them but it maybe because of how much he was hurt by the Joker’s attack.
The actual reveal of the 900 is brilliant I never thought this would be what it was but it is central to the story and I never suspected it is what it is and I thought it was a lot of things. Basically (Spoiler but I warned you) the 900 is a block in Gotham a load of people living there who are honest hardworking people so Batman never goes there. This is an interesting plot twist as loads of people live there people there are a lot of Man-bats and this makes for a large action scene across the 900 block opening up like every issue that has come in Layman’s run with a two page spread and this is no different with Batman in armour with a sonic gun blasting away the Man-bat it looks amazing.
I do have a problem with how this is structured though because the first page shows Man-bats a lot of them this is the prologue to the book and yes the first page will shock you and you will want to read on from page 1 but there is a scene later where a baby and its mother turn into Man-bats and the thing is due to you seeing the Man-bats on the first page you know what is going to happen and well it takes away from the scene which would have been fantastic if it was in the opener of the book.
The plot with Zsaz continues in this issue and I guess this isn’t a spoiler since it’s on the other side of the gate-fold cover but he becomes a Man-bat and obviously Batman gets in a fight with him the fight is short lived because Batman manages to knock him out but still the twist is interesting but spoilt by the cover and you could kind of guess this was going to happen anyway as even without the cover this would seem the most sensible thing to do with this plot and also you know Ogivily was playing with him last issue. So this part was spoilt by the cover and a bit predictable so while the fight was interesting the effect was spoilt by how predictable this was.
There is also an appearance of Batwoman in this issue and well she does play an important role with the outcome of this book but she literally disappears after she does what she does and we don’t see her at the end of this story I think she could have been used better in this story and we could have at least scene her go off rather than completely disappear. When I say Batwoman affects the outcome of the book it is because she brings Kirk Langstrom who created the Man-bat formula to Batman and well he sacrifices himself (Spoiler) for the city and everyone who has become a Man-bat and becomes Man-bat this was what I think made it worthy of being issue 900 the reintroduction of a classic villain to the DC U in an emotional way and well it’s a touching way to do it. I realise some people will be annoyed by the fact that this is another continuity shake up but I don’t mind really he’s man-bat now and who’s to say we couldn’t see the origin here. I don’t know how to explain this exactly but there is some continuity mix up in this in this Man-bat was created by Kirk Langstrom who only created recently so the question is who has Talia Al Ghul got in Batman Inc I have several answers to this
1. Layman mucked this up and couldn’t find a good enough timeline to explain this
2. The editors made Layman do this story for the 900th issue and Layman and the editors couldn’t find a good enough timeline
3. Where is Batman Inc in continuity anyway? I know that Damian’s death had a big effect and there are several editors notes in this talking about Batman Inc (all very annoying and distracting) I mean basically Batman Inc was continued straight from the old DC U and Grant Morrison was allowed to do what he wanted because if you have been reading Batman Inc there are several moments that could only have happened in the old DC U. So really should Batman Inc matter for this issue because it ties in some ways to the old DC U
4. This is another example of how mucked up the DC U is and this was basically unavoidable for this story.
Those are my theories for it although I still need some answers for this as it is quite confusing.
Fabok’s art is on a whole other level to his previous stuff in this issue all the inks in this issue especially on the first few pages look very smooth and the way he draws the Man-bats making them look creepy in this issue is amazing and the splash page on the first page is amazing it looks so good in full detail with the moon in the background. Fabok’s art all round looks great with the facial expressions looking excellent and the detail on buildings is incredible. Fabok’s art still is very dynamic and striking throughout even in the smaller panels of this book. Fabok’s Batman is amazing always having a presence on the page and very shadowy while still looking very powerful a lot like the way Jim Lee does it while still looking different. Fabok is my favourite Batman artist it’s not that Capullo or Burnham are bad at all there art is fantastic as well but Fabok’s style of art appeals to me the most very detailed and fairly realistic while still looking shadowy for Batman I hope Fabok is on Batman for a long time to come. Jeremy Cox did a great job on this as well brining some very nice bold striking colours to the book making everything look 3 dimensional and it looks does a lot to help Fabok’s already 3 dimensional artwork this is a perfect artist colourist pair up.
This was a good story definitely not the best part of Layman’s run but continuity problems aside this is an enjoyable story with some amazing artwork and I will say it this story is worth being the main story of the 900th issue of Detective comics even with a few problems this story can still be enjoyed by everybody and even though it uses plots from previous issues it still is fairly new reader friendly.
Man bat Birth of a Family
This part acts as an epilogue to the main story with Man-bat but it also fills in some background details on Kirk Langstrom and his wife Francine and how they met. This is an interesting story leaving things on a shocking cliff-hanger which I have now doubt will be continued soon as it really is something that can’t be left for too long.
This gives us some simple backstory on Kirk and Francine Langstrom and we find out how they met and what kind of a person they both were. What this story tries to do is paint Kirk Langstrom in a different light a slightly better one but also shows the negative parts of him. We see he is determined to help deaf kids with his serum and improve their hearing but of course we see the negative side i.e. the kids are turned into man-bats and Kirk covers it up this is an 8 page story and it does give some interesting background to the story and what happens it is also nice to see what Francine thinks of her husband and I like we see it from her POV. When I say it helps to put Kirk Langstrom in both a negative and positive light we definitely see the negative side poking through as well by the look of it he’s driven Francine a bit mad and insane this maybe that she was always like it but because of the ending she is a bit mad I want to see more of this explored as there is a lot of potential for a future story arc like this. There is nothing really going on in this backup it adds background to the book and then we end up with the fantastic ending it just didn’t progress the story that much.
Andy Clark produces some fantastic artwork in this backup feature with some very texturized lines to show shadows and different materials I love Clarke’s art it just is so different from most artwork and well the amount of detail in his artwork is amazing he really nailed every aspect of this backup but mostly the facial expressions they are really realistic and well you can tell what each character is thinking every time also his drawing of Man-bat does look very good and fairly creepy. I do however have an issue with how Francine Langstrom she doesn’t look how she did in the main story she looks a bit like Barbara Gordon it is a minor issue but a bit distracting.
This was an interesting story providing some interesting background to the story but nothing really happens apart from the ending but this is a nice epilogue to the main story and it gave an idea of what Kirk and Francine Langstrom are like showing the good and bad points of Kirk Langstrom.
Bane in war council
This is the story in this book that feels out of place the other 4 all deal with the Man-bat plot but this feels very disconnected as it is about Bane and it is a prelude to his appearance in Talon in Talon #7 but when a story is this good I don’t really mind how out of place it is. I don’t buy Talon I’ll admit that I definitely will get it in hardcover but I don’t buy the series although I do keep up with what is going on in it and I know that Bane is going to appear in the next issue of Talon and that he’s after the Court of Owls. Bane is one of my favourite villains and while I didn’t read the Dark Knight I know he wasn’t treated great but this looks to restore him to his true glory as a great tactician but an also a brute force because he is ridiculously strong and powerful. For Bane fans the upcoming Talon arc looks to be fantastic as the teaser in this story really is interesting and you can tell he’s going to get the Court of Owls in a big way.
We see at the beginning what Bane has done on Santa Prisca and what army he’s built to attack the Court and take over Gotham what he has assembled is impressive basically what he’s put together is impressive and well the people he has in his army are scary and well if he’s sending those in to Gotham I’d hate to see the result. You only get glimpses as to what Bane has planned I’m sure he has more than we are shown but I like what we see here and I shudder to think what else he has planned.
We find out in this issue what Bane has against the Court of Owls and there are two incidents that push him to do this the first is he’s attacked by the Talons and then in a truly brutal fight which will please all Bane fights he kills them all. Then this is after the events in Dark Knight we see Bane visited by a shadowy figure who shows Bane an Owl mask. I have no idea who this character is I probably need to read the Talon series to even get an idea of who it will be but I’m interested in who it is and this added to the level of intrigue already presented in this backup which is used a lot to build up to the upcoming story and this works well in this story as it is meant to be prelude to the story and should only really just get you interested in the story not the first part of the story just a prelude and Tynion uses it to great effect in this story.
Mikel Janin does a great job on Justice League Dark and he does a fantastic job here as well showing the same level of detail he usually goes but making Bane look distinctly powerful and strong with a presence on the page while not overdoing the size of his muscles everything is nicely balanced out here. Also the way he handles light and dark areas is phenomenal he really nailed it on this story and he still does a fantastic job with the facial expressions in this story he really is a fantastic artist and one of the best out there.
This may feel out of place in the book but the quality of story here is phenomenal while I cannot afford the upcoming Talon story it looks fantastic and this was a great little teaser to the upcoming events not starting off the story but focusing on Bane showing why he wants to get the Court and what he has in his arsenal.
I’m not familiar with Mr Combustible sufficed to say I don’t like his look it’s a bit ridiculous but I do like this short tale as it provides an insight into what the reason for the 900 is and also continues the Penguin story as he is locked up in Blackgate it is a good story filling in the gaps of the main story and also continuing the story of another plot line.
Basically we see Mr Combustible rob a jewellery shop with his gang and this happens across Gotham but with different villains all under the order of Emperor Penguin. That is the reason for the 900 more a distraction for Ogivily to become very rich and while this may not sound like the most original of ideas it fits the character. I like Ogivily he makes for an interesting villain and the story that has been going through Layman’s run has been intriguing and I like how he is different from Penguin as Penguin goes for smaller plots and Ogivily goes for big and explosive moves that affect a lot of people (the 900) and while you can tell he’s going to get his comeuppance soon enough it’s fun to see this new villain having a play in Gotham and taking down Penguin.
The plot with the Penguin is continued in this issue and (Spoiler) it looks like he’ll be out of Blackgate next issue I do feel this is a little soon for it but this still isn’t confirmed to happening but it’s 90% sure to happen although I may be wrong. The plot itself in this issue is interesting because we see how manipulative the Penguin can be and the connection he has to other people that will help him to get out. I do however feel that there is a little flaw which is Penguin gets Mr Combustible to scare and threaten his judge so that when in the morning we have the trial he is clearly frightened to death why doesn’t anyone noticed minor floor yes but it stuck out a bit too much to me.
Henrik Jonsson I’m not a fan of his art it just looks to jagged on the faces Penguin just looks downright ugly in this I realise he isn’t the prettiest person in the world but in this his face just looks to sharp and jagged and this appears on a lot of people but it is most noticeable on Penguin. I have to say he does handle the facial expressions pretty well apart from the judge where he literally looks like he desperately needs the toilet it’s a little over the top. Jonsson does do a good job with the Man-bat who looks very scary in this and fairly creepy so well done Jonsson for that.
This was a good backup continuing a plot but also answering a much needed question in a predictable but definitely acceptable way it focuses on a villain and he provided some good insight into what happened during the 900. The art however wasn’t great though it was to jagged and angular on faces even though some parts were pretty good.
Through a blue lens
This is an interesting story basically looking at Batman through the eyes of a group of Police officers telling us what they each think about Batman I do like this kind of story although I feel it can only be used in backup stories like these as you couldn’t make it an entire issue but this is a nice done in one story and it is used to good affect showing a more negative view on Batman and a more positive view which are both perfectly valid and nicely explained in this story.
The negative view on Batman is based on the fact that he gets in the Police’s way and has no respect for them and won’t let them do their job. This explored as one of the policemen is in hospital after being a Man-bat and the police officers are laughing about the police officer attacking Batman when he was Man-bat and how he should have cut him properly. This is an interesting point that is explored nicely in this issue and well it makes for an interesting conversation between the police officer that like Batman. I also like how it continues with a character that met Batman earlier and how Layman developed him more and also made him the negative person about Batman it was interesting and his view was nicely explained.
The positive view is very nicely explained as well I have to agree with the more positive as she sees the reason that Batman is good and her point is also valid but also what was nice was the Man-bat police officers explanation at why he likes Batman it’s a touching moment where the two police officers share a bonding moment and well it’s nice to see after this issue something nice has come out of it.
I do get the feeling though this story was just put in to fill the pages and although it’s a nice little story I don’t think it’s necessary and it felt a little like filler.
Jason Masters artwork is alright and although I like the smoothness of it but it just lacks detail and some of the panels just look downright awkward with the facial expression especially with some of the police officers. Also Batman doesn’t look that shadowy a little too bright at points so that wasn’t great. Masters artwork is good in the end but I still think he needs to improve quite a bit with faces.
This was a nice story with an interesting view on this story and on Batman in general and I like this kind of story but it felt a little fillery also the art isn’t that good but still this is an interesting story and it was nice to see a different view on Batman
Art Pin ups
There are 8 pin ups in this book each by a different artist who have all worked on Batman before they are Alex Maleev, Brett Booth, Chris Burnham, Jason Fabok, Andy Clarke, Francesco Francivilla, Cameron Stewart and Dustin Nguyen. Almost all of these pin up are good save two of them which I will discuss in a minute but first my favourite this is a close tie between Alex Maleev’s and Jason Fabok’s pin up Maleev’s because it is incredibly gritty looking and it’s a wonderful two page spread with an interesting composition that shows Batman looking over Gotham with the Bat signal on but also the colours by Nathan Fairbun are very nice creating a moody atmosphere. Jason Fabok’s because it is a striking image of the Dark Knight harkening back to what Jim Lee would do with smoke coming out of Gotham and Batman standing in a striking pose covered in shadows but not totally shadowy it really is very impressive and highly detailed. Chris Burnham’s comes third because it is a funny image showing Talia Al Ghul and Damian about to cut off Batman’s head while he is in chains it harkens back to the old Batman and Robin covers by Frank Quietly and it’s simple but effective and it shows the three’s relationship well and in a funny way. My 4th favourite is Fransesco Francivilla’s which has some nice colours in it and the idea for it is good but it’s not the most interesting of them and it isn’t as detailed as the others. My 5th favourite is Dustin Nguyen’s which is a nice tribute to the Killing Joke’s but it is nowhere near as striking as the others although it is still a nice image with some nice water colours. My 6th favourite is Andy Clarke’s it’s a nice image and it’s nicely coloured and drawn but it’s a bit bland compared to some of the others as it’s just Batman in a slightly hunched position it’s still a nice bit of art but it’s not the most interesting. My least favourites are Brett Booth’s because while the idea is nice and the cover is striking Batman’s facial expression is off he’s happy while beating up Clayface (which is what is being depicted) and Batman is cheerful in a fight it just felt wrong but the image is striking but still him smiling just bugged me a bit. Cameron Stewarts is my least favourite because well the choice of perspective is good but Batman’s pose just looked awkward also it doesn’t have a lot of detail but still the pose is the most distracting part of it.
So the order of how much I like the pinups is….
1. Jason Fabok (it’s pretty close with Maleev)
2. Alex Maleev
3. Chris Burnham
4. Fransesco Francivilla
5. Dustin Nguyen
6. Andy Clarke
7. Brett Booth
8. Cameron Stewart
All of the pin ups are good none of them I hate I just prefer some of them over others.
I’m not sure if this should have been $7.99 but all together this is a solid bunch of stories to celebrate 900 issues of Detective Comics my favourite is the Bane story but they’re all good this is a good continuation of the series and it’s fairly new reader friendly at least the first story is. If you’ve got some spare cash get this issue as it’s got all of content and the pin ups are good but really everyone should give this series a try since Layman has come on it is consistently a solid book and always very enjoyable.