John Layman takes over Batman duties for the start of this new arc where the Penguin faces off against the Bat.
John Layman, well known for his creator owned book: Chew, took over writing duties after Tony Daniels first arc came to a close in issue twelve. The story kicks off with a bit of action and a little side story woven in for context as Batman gets the bottom of what is really going on with the crime spree that evening - a distraction. While a group of thugs has been running around robbing particular targets to keep Batman busy, the Penguin has his own plans for Bruce Wayne. He hired a group called: The Ghost Dragons to assassinate Wayne before he reaches the opening gala for a hospital wing his donations have funded. Penguins main plan this time around is to make a better name for himself than just a common criminal, or even exceptional criminal. He wants the name Cobblepot to rival and surpass the big names of Gotham's elite.
It's an interesting twist to have the same villains after both Wayne and Batman without knowing any real connection between the two and it's balanced well as Batman calls in for help from Nightwing in order to make the gala. After a run in with one of the Ghost Dragons, he is able to finally make it to the party. Penguin had been hard at work however, throwing money and threats at the hospital head in order to get the name of the new wing changed to his own family's. Wayne is more than a little shocked to walk in as Cobblepot is named the big donor and Penguin, seeing Wayne arrive and obviously not assassinated, tells his henchman to call off the hit. As the henchman explains The Ghost Dragons do not quit a job once they take it, another assassin jumps out of the crowd at Bruce Wayne, leaving us with the cliffhanger for this issue.
As an epilogue we are also offered an additional Layman story focusing on Penguin's main henchman in the story. It's a good look at a character that may play a bigger role in this arc than just cannon fodder.
Aside from Jason Fabok's great art, Layman does a good job offering readers a full story in one issue even though we see the overall plot will unfold in several issues to come. He also seems to have a good hold on Batman and his extended family, fans of Snyder's work should feel like this book fits right alongside the world Snyder has created. Most of all, it's always great to see the many sides of Batman: warrior, detective, tactician and citizen (Bruce Wayne), being used.
It was a bit strange having a hit on Bruce Wayne at such a key moment when Penguin planned to bribe and threaten his way to success anyway. It seems like it would only add him to a list of suspects for such an event to occur right when he pushes past Wayne as a donor for something as huge as a hospital wing. But that's a small nitpick overall.
The Bottom Line:
A solid bat-debut for Layman, Detective Comics is definitely worth adding to your pull list if this title didn't quite make the cut before. All of the pieces are here for a great run. Batman fans that have been searching for more quality work along the lines of what we've been getting on Snyder's Batman run may be quite pleased with this book.
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