Home > Comics, Reviews > Comic Review: Batman: Detective Comics #18

Comic Review: Batman: Detective Comics #18

Jason Fabok Batman: Detective Comics #18 cover Robin Requiem New 52

Like Tom Hanks at the end of Castaway, Oswald Cobblepot returns to a Gotham City that has moved on without him in John Layman and Jason Fabok’s Batman: Detective Comics #18.

Turns out upstart henchman Ogilvy was busy while the Penguin was helping the Joker in Batman. With the boss gone, Ogilvy seized all of Oswald Cobblepot’s assets and declared himself Emperor Penguin, leaving Cobblepot to play catchup – and leaving Batman to deal with the collateral damage.

Freed from the burden of the obligatory Death of the Family storyline, John Layman takes the opportunity to clearly focus his story on the Penguin and his Emperor Penguin usurper, while simultaneously situating this title within the larger Batman context. He weaves Penguin’s appearance at Arkham Asylum from Batman #16 in with this story, and also throws Victor Zsasz into the mix as an escapee from Joker’s reign at the asylum. Batman: Detective Comics #18 feels very much grounded in current New 52 continuity, and that extends to the death of Damian Wayne.

The Robin R “Requiem” on the cover acknowledges it: Damian Wayne is dead, and he’s going to be dead in all the Bat books, not just Batman, Inc. That means lots of moping in the graveyard (and there’s some of that here) and some interesting choices ahead for the other Bat books. In the mean time, Layman does well not to let Damian’s death take over this largely solo Batman title.

Jason Fabok’s art is serviceable, but the story doesn’t do him any favours. There’s a whole lot of angry Oswald to deal with, and Fabok falls back on a handful of near-identical outraged expressions for him. Penguin only changes very slightly from panel to panel – a turn of the head, a slightly bugged out monocle eye – leaving the art as a whole somewhat one-note.

Henrik Jonsson seems to have more fun drawing Zsasz’s origin in the backup story, which is again written by Layman. Jonsson’s bald Zsasz – before and after he goes nuts – is more drawn, desperate and human than Fabok’s blonde-haired psycho. His Penguin is also uglier and looks like Jabba the Hutt with a beak. It’s grotesque and the character designs don’t match the main story, but it’s a well-executed look at Zsasz that serves as a nice supplement to the main story.

Batman: Detective Comics #18 does away with a lot of the noise created by Death of the Family and refocuses Batman on the murderous gangster elements of Gotham City.

7.5 out of 10

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