What the heck did I just read?
This is one of the most convoluted issues of any Batman title so far in the New 52 and has the 2nd worst line uttered by a character.
The very worst line in any Batman book still belongs to…
So what happens in this issue? Well, I’m not exactly sure. In the last issue there were occupy protestors rallying against Batman because they like Joker for some reason, a masked man killed some thugs and got a VIP card for Penguin’s new casino, and Charlotte, a character that should’ve just been called Vicki Vale, was about to go undercover in that casino as a waitress to find evidence against Penguin because of something he did that the book didn’t address. It ended after only 10 pages or so in a cliffhanger: Penguin knows what Charlotte is up to and he’s sending his three sexy-lady-assassins to murder her.
This issue sets all of that info aside for the most part, complicates things even further, and introduces a lot of unnecessary new characters. Like Snakeskin whose face was damaged and now he can manipulate it to look like anyone or something…ya know, like a snake. And he’s working with Charlotte’s one-eyed, evil sister to…I guess rob the Penguin who has a vault that will hold the money of super criminals like Hypnotic and Gas Man. The scene with the goofy, new super villains read like Daniel’s attempt at imitating another writer, Grant Morrison, who we all know likes to introduce ridiculous rogues all the time who have a fondness for unionization. And when it comes to the Batman scenes, Daniel tries his hardest to channel Frank Miller and that usually goes horribly wrong as well. Example:
That actually happened. Not the “Yeahhh” part, I threw that in. If you Google around you’ll see that these panels are quickly becoming a new internet meme. Some even have Batman putting on shades. It’s both CSI Miami and Steven Seagal.
And what the heck is Batman doing in this issue, anyway? He has a clue that the thug murders have something to do with the Iceberg Lounge and ultimately Penguin, yet he’s still terrorizing street criminals, interrogating them for extra information even though we all know this is going to inevitably lead to the Iceberg Lounge. But the biggest WTF moment came at the book’s conclusion (spoilers, obviously) when Batman enters through the lower level of the Iceberg Casino and is talking about vampires because apparently I was supposed to read “I, Vampire” last month. He enters through the lower level of the casino while Charlotte is infiltrating some big, dark, empty room. It’s there that she is stabbed. Batman bursts through a skylight of some kind about a minute too late to stop the assault. The attacker is Snakeskin and he locks both Batman and Charlotte in a machine that starts to fill with ice or freeze them or something… I don’t know! I don’t know what this thing is that they are trapped in. Snakeskin pushes some buttons and then the room fills with gas and in the final page we see Batman and Charlotte either being overcome by an avalanche or falling or…I don’t know! And what is the purpose of such a machine? Why is there a man-sized instant-freezing machine in the basement of the casino? I know it’s the “Iceberg” lounge so I guess maybe they make big blocks of ice all the time and carve them for decoration or something? Why is this machine the only thing inside of this huge basement?
And what happened with last month’s cliffhanger? If you recall, that super abbreviated installment ended with Penguin spotting Charlotte’s deception and he ordered his three henchwomen to go kill her. NOTHING came of that. Those three characters are never seen in this entire issue. Instead, the attack on Charlotte comes from Snakeskin who, like most characters in this story, lacks a clear motivation. The book is completely without focus.
I will say that the art is wonderful, though. Which, that’s what Daniel should be doing. He’s an artist first, after all. This issue may be the most well drawn issue of Detective Comics, yet, and the scenes where Batman is threatening crooks look phenomenal, but without a coherent story and characters with purpose, the hard work he put into the stunning visuals falls flat. This isn’t worth $2.99 and it sure as hell won’t be worth $3.99 when the price hike happens this spring.