Here’s a pleasant surprise: Ya know how the solicits for this issue said that the backup would be a continuation of Two-Face’s story, the terrible one Tony Daniel wrote in which Two Face wants to hold public office again, he’s kidnapped by ninjas, and he fights a gangster with a conjoined twin on his stomach? Well thankfully when the last issue’s backup said “The End” it really was the end. It was the end not only for those horrendous Two-Face back-ups which might be the worst comics I’ve read all year, but it was the end of Tony Daniel writing the backups as well. This issue’s side-story is still illustrated by Szymon “I love shadows” Kudranski but the writing is handled by James Tynion IV who you may recall from the Jarvis Pennyworth back-ups in “Batman” or his work on the “Batman Annual” (his own series, “Talon”, starts next month). What we have this time is a back-up story that’s a prelude to the upcoming “Death of the Family” Joker story in “Batman”. And backup like that is something worth getting excited about! But first, let me talk about the main story by Tony Daniel…
Detective Comics: The Killer Inside
Pros: Awesome cover, a cool jetpack suit design, and multiple splash pages and 2 page spreads that look terrific (they look cool but happen so frequently in this issue that it felt like they were being used to take up real estate so things could get wrapped up faster)
Cons: Everything else.
There’s a lot of foam. Batman fights foam and Batman uses foam to his advantage. A lot of the book is devoted to a massive info-dump so we know what villain Hugh Marder’s life story is but he’s defeated like 2 pages later so who cares? This is the very definition of a forgettable comic book so let’s move on to what everyone will actually be talking about: the 8 page backup.
The Tell-Tale Face
Eight pages. James Tynion IV only had 8 pages to work with and he and Szymon Kudranski used them to their full potential. In only 8 pages they introduced a new character, built tension, and made me excited about the return of The Joker. Kudranski and colorist John Kalisz paint a very, very dark picture and when it’s not all black then the shot is totally red because something scary is happening. When it doesn’t work, things look confusing or they are impossible to make out at all, but when it does work it looks pitch-perfect for Gotham. It works here. Both the writing and the art convey an eerie, isolated atmosphere beautifully. This is a fine example of what can be done with comics in a very limited amount of panels.
The main “Detective Comics” story written and drawn by Tony Daniel is not worth your time, but the backup by Tynion and Kudranski is most definitely deserving of your attention. However, it only makes up 8 pages of a 4 dollar book! It’s also important to note that the back-up isn’t necessarily must-reading– you’ll be able to read Snyder’s “Batman” #13 fine without having seen this one-and-done prelude. I’m simply saying that “The Tell-Tale Face” is an entertaining and spooky short story that was well executed. You have to ask yourself: Do I want to spend $3.99 on 8 good pages?