As you can probably tell by the awesome cover by Jason Fabok and Blond, this book is almost entirely action. When you pit Batman against Wrath AKA The Anti-Batman, all the toys get brought out and we end up with an explosive finale full of mech-suits, tanks, jets, and more.
If it feels like the Wrath arc has gone on for a while, it shouldn’t. This storyline has only been three issues long (not counting the additional tie-in material from the Detective Comics Annual #2), it’s just that the Villains Month caused a delay. Luckily, John Layman’s narration in the opening page makes for a perfect recap that I dare say makes the issue accessible to new readers as well. However, later narration is somewhat overdone, especially during the climactic action sequences. So much is spelled out unnecessarily to the reader when the imagery could have told the story well enough on its own.
But back to the recap, we have it summarized for us that Wrath is essentially Bruce Wayne, but evil and he has a vendetta against cops instead of criminals. The opening page shows us his master plan: donate millions of dollars worth of equipment to the GCPD that’s actually designed with sabotage in mind and then trigger every hidden booby-trap simultaneously, killing every officer at the exact same moment and watch Gotham fall into chaos. It’s a really good plan and at this point every law enforcement official wearing their gear should be dead, but we’re soon informed through Batman’s inner monologue that our hero still has 4 and half minutes to save the lives of all these cops. It’s a figure that pops up out of thin-air since Batman didn’t even know about this attack until just now, but story-wise we can’t really have 90% of the cops (another number Batman somehow knows) in Gotham drop dead so this added information increases the excitement to the issue and give us something more to root for other than just beating up Wrath.
Unfortunately, rather than cutting back to Alfred and watching him rescue the cops (and fight off Wrath’s hench-lady who was totally absent from this issue even though we last saw her with a gun and not too far away from Alfred) by using the nearby computer and playing that scene alongside the fight with Wrath for better tension and drama, everything is left up to Batman himself, who rushes back to diffuse what is one of the most brilliant villainous plots in the New 52 in rather anticlimactic fashion.
Readers are then treated to some of Wrath’s backstory, which Alfred has somehow discovered on Wrath’s computer. There’s an editor’s note referencing that Pennyworth hacked into Caldwell’s system in the previous issue, but– and correct me if I’m wrong– didn’t Wrath intercept Alfred before he had a chance to touch the Caldwell computers?
It matters very little at this point and most readers will have already pieced together the opposite-day qualities of Wrath’s origin story by now anyway. The biography is hurried along and we’re back to the battle, which, while very cool, I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed that Batman immediately resorted to using a specialized suit that one must wonder why exactly he doesn’t wear such armor all the time. Wrath and Batman’s final confrontation is extremely action-packed and rather than being merely a showcase of superheroic brawn, we also get a nice moment in which Batman proves his faith in the GCPD. You have to applaud writer John Layman for writing a story in which 90% of the police force is incapacitated and yet by the end of the story these cops come off as WAY more competent than they have in pretty much every other New 52 Batman story so far.
Lastly, I’m VERY happy that that Wrath is still alive at this end of this issue and can come back in future stories. It’s long overdue that this villain became a part of the recurring rogues gallery.
Like with any big action comic, the visuals reign supreme and Jason Fabok and Blond didn’t disappoint. There were maybe a few too many shots that incorporated the Dutch angle, but the level of detail within those panels is undeniable. Plus, Fabok draws one of my favorite Batmans right now so I sincerely hope that these rumors about Fabok (and Layman) leaving the series are unfounded. The dogfight between the Batwing and whatever Wrath’s turd-colored Millennium Falcon is called was especially well done. I haven’t seen an aerial battle this fantastic since IDW’s Wild Blue Yonder. Watching these impressive planes blasting through Gotham was a hell of a thrill ride and when you compound that with the heavy-hitting brawl between Batman and Wrath you get a very visually impressive adventure that brings Detective Comics out of Villains month with a bang.
Is this the start of a new trend? Today’s Action Comics and Detective Comics did not feature an 8-page backup story yet they still had the $3.99 price tag. So what are you getting for your extra dollar now? The glossier cover like you see on Batman/Superman and Batman: Black and White. Is a thicker, card-stock, glossy cover really worth paying the extra buck? We’ll surely have to hold these $3.99 titles to a higher standard now that we’re getting less story for the price. What a shame… Detective Comics has done a terrific job with the backups and making sure they play an integral part in the main story.
- Tanks, jets, and robot suits pique your interest
- You agree that Jason Fabok draws a bad-ass Batman
- You’ve read the previous chapters of the Wrath arc– this is the finale, after all
- The GCPD deserve a moment to prove they aren’t worthless
- You enjoyed the Emperor Penguin arc
Talk about big action! Detective Comics #24 ends the Wrath arc with dogfights, mech-suits, and even spares a little time to give Gordon a scene or two. However, there’s a bit of cheese, weak dialogue, over-narration, and an unnecessary transition that all drag the story down a tad, but not so much that you won’t still have fun.