Tuesday, 2 May 2017
Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 4: The Wrath Review (John Layman, Jason Fabok)
Originally The Wrath was conceived as a version of Bruce Wayne that chose a darker path - someone who allowed hate to consume him and who grew up as a similarly-costumed figure, deciding to gun down cops in misguided revenge for his parents’ deaths. He was actually a compelling character and I’d highly recommend Batman: The Wrath to any Batman fans to find out why for themselves as well as for an entertaining read.
Unfortunately, John Layman’s New 52 version of The Wrath is pure dogshit. Here he’s reimagined as a rich guy in an armoured suit that doesn’t look like Batman’s outfit who’s killing cops for seemingly no reason. Right at the end he blurts out his reasoning and it’s so face-palmingly stupid that it would’ve been better if he had no reason at all. Ham-fisted? Shoe-horned in? Yup and yup! Awful writing, John Layman. The aerial fight across the Gotham skyline wasn’t bad though.
One of my least favourite Batman characters is Manbat/Kirk Langstrom so it’s disappointing how much of this book is taken up with repeating his uninteresting origin story for the New 52 audience. It’s largely similar to the pre-New 52 Manbat origin and it’s written better than the godawful Wrath garbage but it didn’t change my view on the character.
This book also includes the conclusion to the decent Emperor Penguin storyline started in the previous volume. Ogilvy takes on his second form to fight Batman in a rushed finale but he wasn’t a bad new character all told. For some reason there’s a callback to Detective Comics, Volume 2: Scare Tactics where the girl from the Bruce Wayne Himalayan short is all growed-up and in Gotham to assassinate someone for some reason. It wasn’t good and felt like it existed to try and sell Harper Row as an important character. Remember her? Yeah, she didn’t take and reading this story shows why she’s been shoved aside now for this Duke chap!
There’s a lot of comic to this fourth volume - roughly double the usual size - and it’s definitely a case of quantity over quality. It’s a readable book but there are too many mediocre storylines and side stories that are nothing special and forgettable. I was really impressed with Jason Fabok’s slick art even if John Layman’s writing never came close to the same inspired quality often seen in his Image series, Chew. Detective Comics, Volume 4: The Wrath is an ok Batman book at best and definitely no must-read for anyone.