Up and down I go! Do I like this issue or do I think it’s so-so? Truth be told, I’m stuck in the middle, being completely bored while at the same time loving every last bit of this Batty installment. Batty it is too, focusing on the League of Smiles and their insane origins, worshiping/obsessing over the Joker and making themselves up in such a way where they resemble his likeness. Being the great detective that he is, Bats deciphers the mystery of who the Merrymaker is quickly, and without error. And the rest is simply flashbacks and resolutions.
When it comes to Batman within the new 52 (is it still 52? Cancellations and new series might negate this.) Snyder has done a fantastic job at reviving the detective within the Dark Knight, and it’s been glorious. The last six months, however, with exception to the main title, the “detection” side of the Bat has been severely lacking. John Layman’s work on Detective comics has been good, but it seems he’s really starting to get a handle on the world’s greatest detective. Not only is he solving mysteries, piecing everything together into a nice set of dialogging, he uses his brawn less with minimal punching, kicking, and breaking the baddy’s teeth in. I love a good action scene as much as the next guy, but substance is more important to me than mindless action scenes.
Where does the problem occur? Right on the first page, when Dr. Meredith makes his appearance with Batman’s inner monologue inquiring about the identity of the Merrymaker. If you’re worried about spoilers, don’t worry, this “surprise” won’t excite you enough for it to matter. I figured out the “twist” by the third page, and it really isn’t that exciting.
So the joy of getting to read a TRUE detective Batman story was minimal. Sure, it’s always fun to read the detective’s words as he unfolds the mystery bit by bit, but when you’re able to figure out the end result before reaching page four, the thrill diminishes. Maybe I’m being a little too picky, but I was born with high expectations.
The book does get interesting during the flashback when we learn more about Dr. Meredith and his assessment of Joker’s influence on the unstable mind. What grabbed me the most was how much the Joker’s influence stretched across Arkham Asylum, both with the inmates and its employees. It gives so much more life and reason to Harley Quinn and Jeremiah Arkham’s insanity. The moral of the story? it isn’t Arkham Asylum that breeds the crazies, it’s the Joker.
There’s a lot of good art work to be seen, and new comer Jason Fabok (Is he new? I’m making assumptions based on nothing) is making a good lean into the comic book world. He’s already good, better than most, but it’ll be fun to see what he can do in a few years, assuming he sticks around of course. I think his nitch is going to be detail, and there’s already a fantastic amount of that going on here.
Overall it’s a decent issue, just a little TOO predictable to make it exciting. Enjoy it, but don’t begin reading it thinking it’s going to be a mindblower.
7 out of 10 stars