New 52 – Detective Comics #20 review

A fine epilogue and back-up story saved what was otherwise a disappointing climax to an 8 issue arc.

After all that buildup I really felt like this story stumbled toward the finish line. Issue #20 opens with Ogilvy’s crew continuing to commit large scale robberies, now moving up to banks heists that Ogilvy himself has joined. Not only that, but he turns to the security camera so that his face is clearly visible as he openly taunts the Batman, “Come and get me.”

And that’s precisely what Batman does only I didn’t think it was in very Batman-style. Well, not the Batman I enjoy anyway. If anything, Batman’s plan of attack reminded me quite a bit of the way Tony Daniel, David Finch, and Greg Hurwitz have used The Dark Knight. Rather than come up with oh, I don’t know, a plan or use stealth in a situation that is clearly a trap, Batman rushes to the front door and announces his presence like a cop demanding that Ogilvy come out with his hands up.

And speaking of cops– where are they? The GCPD is more inept than ever in the New 52 and here we see that not only is Ogilvy able to get away with a large scale bank robbery but he showed his identity to the cameras and the police were still unable to track him down. Surely the police would be able to identify Ogilvy when he’s been such an integral part of Penguin’s operation for so long. Truly, there isn’t much reason for Batman to get involved. Sure, the audience knows that Ogilvy has transformed but as far as Batman knows it’s just a henchman who has found a way to rise up in Penguin’s organization and we now have all the evidence we need to convict him of a bank robbery. It’s supposed to be worth Batman’s time just because this guy taunted him? Not every insult deserves a response. He could’ve just called Gordon about it and said “Yeah, the bank robber is Ogilvy– yeah, Penguin’s henchman, the only guy named Ogilvy in Gotham. He’s at the Cobblepot mansion. I thought it sounded a lot like a trap too that’s why I’m skipping it and you guys can surround the place. –Well if it turns out he has a giant robot or something I’ll show up, I always do, but I just thought you guys could use the win since me and the kids have been doing everything for the past five years.”

One thing about Batman’s assault on the Cobblepot mansion that will immediately stand out to fans is that Batman isn’t driving the Greg Capullo Batmobile that has appeared in Batman, Detective Comics, and Catwoman, but he’s instead crashing through the gates in Christopher Nolan’s Tumbler! It’s even called the Tumbler by name.

All that I’ve talked about so far is showcased in the opening pages which you can find in a free preview. The preview ends with Batman on his knees after getting whooped by the now super powered Ogilvy. From there we go back in time to see the rest of Oswald Cobblepot’s court case, which Alfred (still called “Penny-One” which is a terrible code name by all accounts) is closely monitoring. After that it’s more flashback scenes of Batman interrogating Mosaic, another villain first introduced by Tony Daniel earlier on in his Detective run, about what exactly Ogilvy is up to. Of course, Mosaic doesn’t know much but he does make it clear that Ogilvy is using experimental chemicals and has access to the man-bat serum. So it’s not so much that Batman got the message from Ogilvy and ran head first into the trap– he asked around to find out that Ogilvy was indeed planning something big and then ran head first into the trap. After reading Batman: Year 100 just last night in preparation for a review going up tomorrow, Batman’s horrible forethought in this comic seems more obvious than ever and it really annoyed me.

As you can imagine simply by looking at the comic’s cover, Ogilvy is now quite the physical threat. But just as I had feared, he also lost a lot of what made him so interesting beforehand. I was thoroughly enjoying his rise to power through careful planning and yes, him using all of these villainous enhancements to make himself the biggest threat he can be is indeed a smart way to go, but in this book’s final confrontation he’s simply a big monster. He’s just a big blue monster there to beat Batman with a chain and his idea of victory in all of this is a stupid one.

After hanging Batman outside for a couple minutes and making a phone call to the mayor’s office, Ogilvy claims he has won because he ruled Gotham, albeit for a short time and will be forever remembered in Gotham history. Um… No you won’t. Either Ogilvy is insane and deserves to be locked away in Arkham or he needs to brush up on some Gotham history of his own. He didn’t rule Gotham. It’s not even clear if the Mayor’s office kept him on hold or not. He wanted to discuss a transfer of power…for what? To become mayor? To what end? It’s like the Court of Owls’ plan to take over Gotham. It’s not some castle to be sacked, it’s a city in the USA under the protection of not only a larger government with a military, but it exists in a world with a Justice League. You can’t just take it over. You can rule the underworld, but you can’t go public. Batman hanging from a tree for a couple minutes does not make Ogilvy the ruler of Gotham. EVERY Batman villain has had Batman incapacitated for at least a minute or two (most have kept him down for far longer than this) but that doesn’t mean that they were the “ruler” of Gotham or that they will be remembered forever in Gotham history.
After all the careful, meticulous planning for every other aspect of his rise to power, it was quite underwhelming for the final step in his plan to be so simple. And what happened to all of HIS henchmen? He took over Penguin’s empire and all the thugs that came with it. We even saw a large group of them on the opening page yet when Batman launches his assault on Ogilvy’s lair, he’s all alone. It isn’t until the backup that takes place after our story ends that we see the brilliant Ogilvy return again.

The Backup is great, as is the epilogue to our main story, but it’s the look at Ogilvy’s past and future that will likely spark the most discussion. In our last glimpse of Ogilvy, we see what sort of childhood he had and how greatly it influenced the man we see today. It becomes clear why Ogilvy wasn’t your ordinary goon and why he was willing to do whatever it takes to gain power. But more importantly, we see the makings of a great future role for the character. It’s a title that will most certainly set him apart from the rest of the rogues gallery and could easily lead to him returning in countless future stories without the need of being the central antagonist.

As always, the artwork in this comic is fantastic. Fabok and Clarke make for the best one-two punch with pencils that complement each other well. Fabok’s Batman is one of the most iconic looking of any ongoing series right now and the colors by Jeromy Cox and Blond really made this book come alive. Whether you’re as disappointed with the story as I was or not, I’m sure we can all agree that the illustrations are terrific.

Other points to make will be in spoiler tags, including details on the backup which can’t really be addressed without spoilers:


  • “It wasn’t ‘chemicals’ Ogilvy was after…it was venom.” –Isn’t venom a chemical?
  • Why the hell wouldn’t Batman use his gadgets during the first fight? It doesn’t make any sense for him to just get his ass beat without using everything at his disposal. Ogilvy defeated Batman way too easily.
  • If John Hartigan can figure his way out of a hanging, Batman sure as heck should be able to without the intervention of Penguin.
  • I’m sick of seeing a Batman who doesn’t act human. Maybe I’m just spoiled for having read Batman: Year 100 last night, but after being hanged and beaten Batman had too great of a second wind in this story. That and Ogilvy was too much of a pushover. Even though Batman finally decided to use his gadgets, Ogilvy was still in top form and should’ve been able to get a few hits in before Batman reached for his belt. The final fight wasn’t exciting at all.
  • Batman’s moment of surprise when Penguin shoots Ogilvy made me laugh. “Cobblepot!” Well, what did you think was going to happen, Batman? It’s the Penguin, he’s there for revenge, and you knew perfectly well that he had a weaponized umbrella in his hand when the two of you walked into the mansion.
  • Felt like a cop-out that Ogilvy survived the point-blank shot to the head.
  • I could’ve done without the final 2 panels teasing the 6-armed woman. The epilogue was such a good ending! Just stop there.
  • Does anyone know who the Boss of Blackgate is? I couldn’t put my finger on this Taurus/Tim Curry from “Legend” looking fellow. I also felt like this would’ve been better if he was just an old school gangster, the last of the true crime bosses finally being usurped by the newest of the freaks.
  • The choice of movies, Goodfellas and Death Wish, for Ignatius’ childhood visit to the Monarch theater was interesting.

Great artwork, great epilogue, and great backup story but everything else fell way short of my expectations for an 8-part arc’s conclusion. After all that wait I wanted something much more than this. To have the brilliant villain turn into a big blue monster who only wants a fist fight is underwhelming. And the constant intrusion of editor’s notes in this comic was almost as annoying as Batman’s brash actions. Where’s the planning? The majority of the story is Batman getting his butt kicked because he waltzed right into an obvious trap and he only wins because he finally decides to do what really should’ve came naturally to him when the fisticuffs first began. Penguin himself comes out of this arc looking great, it was a solid story for that character and the backup makes Ogilvy’s future look quite bright with a lot of possibilities. However, I’m very displeased with the handling of our hero.

SCORE: 6/10