Comic Vine Review

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Detective Comics Annual #2 - Face in the Crowd; Contained Multitudes; Harvey Bullock, This is Your Life Review

3

A shape-changing foe has snuck into the GCPD and Batman needs to figure out who it is before they can kill again.

The Good

This is one pretty good looking annual. The primary story has more of a "standard" look, but it's boosted by great amounts of detail and a strong focus on the surrounding areas. Batman's appearance is fitting -- muscular yet not too bulky and incredibly intimidating while wearing the cowl. Wrath's helmet aside, just about everyone and everything looks good and I really appreciate the attention to detail -- it presents consistently enjoyable visuals. The second back up really hits a home run when it comes to eye candy, though. It's a considerably darker style with a strong emphasis on shading and emotion. It's an excellent way to immerse us in the twisted story.

When it comes to the plot, it's widely formulaic but the annual makes up for that by mostly serving as a character study. Of Batman? Or Wrath? Nope! It's about a villain being introduced to this title -- one who I suspect will have a larger role in the coming issues (otherwise, what's the point, right?). I haven't read this character's prior appearances so I have no idea if they've undergone any changes, but this individual can certainly hold the weight of extra panel time. The first and third tales are alright, but the second is by far the most impressive. It definitely has the most passion and originality behind it, delivering some solid twists and turns.

The Bad

My biggest gripe with this story is it throws you right into the middle of something and then needs to utilize the back up stories to flesh it out and make us say, "Oh, okay, so that moment makes more sense now." For example, the first story makes it seem like two characters are relatively new to one another, and then a following scene has one of them saying they're in love the other person. It's one of those, "Wait, what did I miss?" kind of moments and makes no sense in context. Providing us with the meat of this story after these scenes feels like an odd choice to me and really took away from the impact of the first story. In all honesty, it seems like that's the sole purpose of the third story: just to flesh out the primary one and fill in all the gaps.

If you've been following the book, then it's fair to assume this has a pretty decent connection to Wrath. Even the solicitation mentions this issue focuses on a character targeting police, so there's a strong link right there. But Wrath's role is quite literally limited to one page. To top it off, his armor makes it look like he's smiling, so it's a bit jarring. Needless to say, this was disappointing to me.

I also felt like Batman was being downplayed in the final fight sequence. I understand the poor performance at first due to potentially underestimating his target, but the second time he had prep and knew what styles and advantages his enemy was bringing to the table. Despite this, Batman is still way more skilled, yet he looks like a chump in the initial portion of the melee. It's brief and probably not an issue for some, but I'm a bit obsessed when it comes to battles and how characters perform.

Minor gripes: there's one panel of Batman kicking a goon in a super uncomfortable position and his extended leg looks slightly off to me. Also, a specific scene from the first tale is shown again in the final back up story but it's handled differently. In the first story, Batman only throws one batarang. In this, he throws some smaller projectiles, too. I wouldn't mind if this was retelling something which happened awhile ago, but it literally takes place earlier in the issue.

The Verdict

The first back up story is satisfying and there are some gems to be found in the overall narrative, but for the most part, it's pretty generic despite trying to throw us off with a twist. And again, a big hindrance is saving details you need in the first story until the final back up -- it really takes away from what could have been a powerful moment. That said, the art remains solid throughout and it seems fair to assume this is a character who will appear by Wrath's side. If I could, I'd give this a 2.5, but since I can't give half stars, the art in the first and second parts warrant a boost to 3.

12 Comments
Posted by detective38

I enjoyed this annual very much despite the minor use of wrath. Jane Doe is an interesting character I liked her appearances back during the battle for the cowl story line and Ive always liked bullock. I would at least give it 4 stars

Posted by manwithoutshame

I loved the final Harvey Bullock backup! Overall, the issue was pretty good, and I'd say Layman getting a better feel for writing Batman as we go along.

Posted by Solomonwreath

The projectile thing bugged me too until reasoned that it was a slow motion recall thing since some of the batarangs are in the same spot as others. The thing that bugged me was the fact that batman said he took a guess when could felt a permanent scar on bullocks face if not cut off his ear.

Posted by MuyJingo

Gregg, I think you need to read the issue a second time.

I don't really understand the problem you have with NotBullock and the new Dr being in Love. The first story in the book is clearly set over a longer period of time, and changes between time periods a few times.

After thew new Dr is introduced, it skips ahead an unspecified period of time (all it says is "Soon") at the top of a panel, and it is after that that they are shown in love. We didn't see it happen, but they obviously started a relationship.

It's even hinted at, with Bullock wearing cologne and Batman saying he knows why Bullock is taking care of his appearance, bullocks hand on her shoulder...

As for the batarangs....we only see one shown in the first story...it doesn't mean multiple are not thrown...

I didn't have a problem with Batman's fighting because it is clearly stated...a few times, that the person he is fighting inherits the abilities of people she impersonates. That wasn't something Batman knew and so it wasn't something he prepared for.

I enjoyed the book a lot. Thew new villain is an excellent addition to Batman's rouges gallery, it was a good story and the art was consistently good.

The only complaint I would have is that the batarangs to the face seemed overly brutal for Batman.

Edited by k4tzm4n

@muyjingo: Do you honestly think I gloss over panels and missed these things when reviewing an issue? Come on. People take their time to create these comics, so paying attention as I review is the least I can do in return. I'm well aware of the leaps in time and the remarks about him focusing on hygiene/wearing cologne, but just because they're conveyed doesn't mean I think it was handled well and clearly they needed the back up to flesh this out. I've already elaborated on why I didn't favor that. You do, and that's perfectly fine, but asking me to read it again won't change my opinion -- especially since I read it twice before reviewing it.

I didn't have a problem with Batman's fighting because it is clearly stated...a few times, that the person he is fighting inherits the abilities of people she impersonates. That wasn't something Batman knew and so it wasn't something he prepared for.

I never said I have a problem with the first fight -- in fact, I said I can chalk that up to Batman underestimating his opponent (did appear to be an elderly woman, after all). My critique is of their SECOND fight (stated "final fight" in review), the one where Batman said he prepped for it and knew what skills she was bringing to the table. Perhaps you should read the review a second time? ;)

Also, Jane Doe is a preexisting villain. Unless by "new villain " you mean "new to the title."

Staff
Edited by MuyJingo

@k4tzm4n: I was only going by what you said in the review. You say it throws you into the middle of something, a scene doesn't make sense and makes you wonder if you missed something. Given how the story jumps around in time and given the exposition, I didn't see that as a problem. i.e., the first story would have stood on it's own fine without the backup.

You're referring to the final fight, the one where she was pretending to be Bullock, right? It doesn't matter what Batman said...he didn't know that his opponent was able to manifest the abilities and skills of different people. He thought she was just a serial killer. Unless I missed something where he was aware of his opponent having that ability?

Otherwise it seems he was under-prepared, because he couldn't reasonable expect Jane Doe to have that ability.

And yes, I mean new to the existing universe. Jane Doe hasn't been seen in the New 52 as far as I know.

Edited by k4tzm4n

@muyjingo: Like I said, I don't believe it was handled well. Jumping from "hey, nice to meet you" to "we're in love!" totally kills the emotional value behind the conflict and the weight of the scene. Yeah, OBVIOUSLY we assume they've developed a relationship and are indeed in love (I don't see how anyone couldn't draw that conclusion based on the dialogue alone), but that doesn't mean I like how it was handled and presented. I obviously try to keep reviews spoiler-free, thus the lack of elaboration.

Look at the post above because he does know and he clearly states it. My edit was probably after you saw it.

Staff
Edited by MuyJingo

@k4tzm4n: Yup, I missed the edit.

I see that just as Batman talking tough.

I was checking the comic as I replied, and nothing indicates he is aware of her ability to manifest the skills and abilities of others.

Re NotBullock being in love, I guess I just don't understand why they would need to show the relationship progression? What would that add to the story?

I apologize for saying you should maybe read the issue again. I really didn't understand your criticisms though. Thankyou for elaborating.

Edited by k4tzm4n

@muyjingo: Nothing indicates it? He may not know she's as efficient in duplicating as someone like Taskmaster, but he absolutely knows those are the skills she uses and this is blatantly spelled out for us. Honestly, I don't know how anyone can read his dialogue and say that's "just Batman talking." He's considered the world's greatest detective for a reason, man. He's able to even identify one of the talents before she says it and the rest, well, it's more than transparent. If you still disagree, then I have absolutely nothing more to say on the matter. The dialogue speaks for itself.

As for the latter, I've already discussed that above. Frankly, I don't think the final back up was even required. I think Layman could have expanded the size of the primary tale by organically including certain elements of that story and still managed to keep the villain a guessing game. Reading it after all is said and done just felt redundant to me and the primary still could have ended with the Lt. in the bar and denying he's who the kid is thinking of.

Staff
Posted by MuyJingo

@k4tzm4n: Like I said, I have the comic open next to me while I'm replying.

Look at the dialog. All he says is that she defines herself through her victims. To me, that reads like he understands her to have identity issues, perhaps a form of MPD. The panel you circled on the left only shows that he knows her previous victims, not that he knows she can manifest his skills. There is absolutely nothing in the comic, especially in any of the lines you circled that indicate he knows of her ability to manifest the abilities of others.

If we disagree on that, that's fine. Unless you can show a panel where he has figured that out however, then it's an assumption/rationalization on your part.

If anything, I would have liked him to have more of a focus on him figuring that out during the fight.

As for the latter, I guess we just disagree. I see the format of the comic as being similar in format to the movie Closer, where it jumps ahead in time randomly without warning, and suddenly characters are in a relationship which is mad obvious, without showing how they got there.

I liked the format and think it served the story well. I agree though, I would have preferred the main story be expanded and had more of a mystery element in place of the backups.

Edited by k4tzm4n

@muyjingo: "I know everything you can do." If that doesn't say Batman knows she's attempting to fight like the people she's posed as, I simply don't know what does. To me, this is blatantly obvious. As I've already said above, he may not know she's as efficient in copying as someone like Taskmaster, but he 100% knows she's attempting to use the advantages of the people she has posed as and the dialogue makes this crystal clear.

Good to know we agree on expanding the primary tale would have been beneficial. I assume you also greatly enjoyed the first back up as well?

Staff
Edited by MuyJingo

@k4tzm4n: Hmm. Honestly, when I read that line, I took it more as him meaning he knows what she is capable off as a serial killer. Not that he knows she can manifest the abilities of the people she impersonates.

It didn't occur to me that it could mean he knew that she is capable of that. We obviously have different interpretations on that front, although for what it's worth I'm now doubting my own.

Since he says that at the end of the fight, it's possible he only figured it during the fight which would allow for your interpretation and also explain him getting caught off guard by the kick, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first back up :) I also was very impressed with the second one, and liked the examination of Bullocks character. There wasn't any new or surprising insight, but I still enjoyed the way it was presented.