Detective Comics #16
Detective Comics does the double layer
John Layman has been taking full advantage of Death of the Family for the past few issues, but what he is doing that the other tie-ins are not is actually furthering his own detective story line in the process. Layman has been featuring the penguin heavily in his story lines, tying him to the joker’s plot in DOTF, leaving behind Ignatius Ogilvy, the Penguin’s personal assistant who has spent the past several years working his way up through the organizations criminal ranks. Now, he has stylized himself as emperor penguin, and aims to be the next big crime lord in Gotham. Right now, as Batman is busy, Ignatius is free to make his moves as he pleases, and that is what I like about this Detective story line so far: we are getting to know this villain outside the bounds of his interactions with the Dark Knight. Which is especially good since I’m beginning to like this villain a lot. I’m hoping that this villain can stick around for a while once he is actually confronted. In this and the last few issues, he’s begun to prove himself as a worthy replacement for the penguin (this coming from a batman fan who doesn’t hold the penguin in too high of a regard). He plots, murders, betrays and tricks, all valuable traits when it comes to surviving in the organized crime world of Gotham City.
One thing that also stuck out to me in this issue was Andy Clarke’s backstory. If you know me, which I’m sure no one does, than you know that I love Clarke’s style, and even if he only does one page of an issue, I will pick it up and read it. Both he and Andy Kubert utilize lines in their art that I find so appealing and that not many other people use. I highly recommend checking his art out, in this issue especially.
The main story line of this issue is, of course, associated with the Joker, and more specifically, the gangs he inspires, as seen in Detective #1 and #5 of the New 52. I love these types of Batman stories: incredibly fast paced story line, with slow, methodical narration by Batman. It’s a synergy that works extremely well in comic books, combining the action on the page with an in depth description of the circumstances by a master detective, all leading to the climax, some huge event depicted on page, with an equally large revalation occurring in the minds of both the narrator and the reader, all setting up the action in the next issue.
Layman uses this model very well, showing Batman tracking down the Joker’s followers, while looking for one mischievously dangerous troupe in particular: The League of Smiles. Obviously a play on the League of Assassins, just a funny bit-joke for all the fans who have been paying attention. The story follows a youth who thought he was tough enough to be a member of the gang, but it turns out, he has a good heart and saves the lives of a few hostages. A heart warming tale indeed.