Monday, October 13, 2014

Detective Comics: Faces of Death by Tony Daniel

I thought about giving a three out of five stars rating for Tony S. Daniel's first volume that is comprised of issues #1-7 for New 52's Detective Comics but quickly changed my mind when I took into account how much emotional abuse I endured while I was reading and reviewing each issue. It would have been a solid three but given how much this ruined an entire week for me, I felt obligated to shoot another star down and just give this a measly two for effort and visuals. I have stated time and time again that Daniel is a spectacular artist and his dynamic illustrations, particularly the action sequences and character poses/designs in this volume, are certainly the only things I love about it. The visual appeal is unmistakable. You can just look at the pictures and make up your own story too, if you want, which you might find yourself doing so instead of trying to understand the convoluted and often nonsensical plotlines that Faces of Death was all about.

I don't care about anyone in the story, heroes or villains alike, because I don't understand the motivations driving these characters to make the choices that they have throughout the story--and how they go about these choices. Detective Comics as a title that was supposed to showcase the crime-solving sleuth quality of Batman but much of the time in Daniel's story, all he did is employ violence every step of the way. I don't really feel like he's solving anything unless you count the number of times he beats up people as a way to get answers from everyone. Sure, Batman kicks ass but he's also the type to ask the questions either before or after the violent confrontation. He usually doesn't do this and doesn't bother unravelling whatever clues and threads he might find, seemingly more eager to jump from one action sequence to another in every issue. Whenever he does play detective, it comes off as pretentious and tacky as if Daniel doesn't even bother making it a serious venture and would rather make Batman utter cheesy lines that more than once made me cringe.

Another thing that disappointed me about this volume is how fucking MISLEADING it tends to be. Just look at that main cover as well as the ones that heavily feature the Penguin. Trust me, their time on the pages have little impact and enjoyment to offer. As gratingly inconsistent the seven issues had been as a whole story, the one consistent thing Daniel does manage to do is short change his baddies where they don't ever have that much of a significant role to contribute in his plots. In the first two issues (which, in retrospect, were actually the only decent ones in the collection), we get a story about the Joker but we never, ever get an explanation or even a theory as to why he had his face surgically removed by the Dollmaker, which should have been an interesting moment. Frustratingly enough, the Dollmaker story arc that lasted four issues too long was also handled poorly. This chief villain just disappeared easily, I may add, because Batman just stopped caring halfway through like a child with attention-deficit disorder, and focused his energies with the Penguin who was also cast aside to "develop" that character story concerning Charlotte Rivers and her evil twin, and it's not that engrossing. Like, AT ALL. Charlotte Rivers and her twin are unsympathetic and bland and there was no solid characterization that made me believe I should pay attention to what is happening in their cookie-cutter lives. To call them plot devices would be giving them the dimension they don't have.

And then there's that bit about Hugo Strange's bastard son and I actively fucking hate anything with Hugo Strange in it so, nope, I would rather not discuss any more of that bullshit because it was a passing storyline that did nothing for the main story.

Just explaining about the things that annoyed me the most while reading the issues is almost like re-living the horror for me so I'm going to end my review now. I also decided not to review the next issues (#8-12) individually anymore since they are written by Daniel again and I only plan to submit one review for the second volume that collects it. I just have to endure five more Daniel issues before I finally get to John Layman's run.


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