Monday, November 3, 2014

Detective Comics Annual #2 by John Layman and Joshua Williamson

I have to say that this has got to be one of my favorite annuals for a Bat-title in New 52 (the other two have to be Peter J. Tomasi's Batman and Robin annuals, of course). I was simply astounded by the focus and scope of the stories herein which has less to do with Batman and more to do with supporting characters. A collaboration by two writers, namely Layman himself and Joshua Williamson, the second annual for Detective Comics delved on a new villainess appropriately named Jane Doe, and the underrated Harvey Bullock. This annual issue is composed of three interconnected standalones that are best read during the wee hours (as I did around two in the morning earlier),  and preferably in a dark room while lying on the with only a small nightlight near you. It enhanced my experience tenfold, giving me the sudden chills as I perused the pages illustrated wonderfully by artist Scot Eaton.

With thirty-seven pages, Layman and Williamson first delivered the intriguing main story entitled Face in the Crowd which follows an unknown female who can perfectly mimic and embody another person, and since her real identity is unknowable at this point due to the multiple identities she inhabited for god-knows how many years, she became officially known as JANE DOE. She is also the closest thing we could have to a shape-shifter for a non-supernatural villain, and she was absolutely spooky as fuck. I know what you're thinking: she's just a knock-off of Clayface--but aside from their shared abilities, they are nothing alike and the distinct difference lies on how Jane Doe uncomfortably, disconcertingly and creepily becomes the person she is imitating that without it she's merely a blank slate and that singularity is what was so freaky about this bitch in the first place. At least Clayface still has a personality for himself, but this Jane Doe is so far gone human comprehension that she's only a real person when she's mimicking another person, and even then it's sickening to watch her in action.

Also, unlike Clayface, she doesn't just morph into another human being; she studies their behavior, mannerisms, etc. and then wears their fucking faces after she has skinned them. Jane Doe doesn't have her own skin underneath. She's literally exposed facial flesh! A thing of nightmares, that's what this bitch was, and I couldn't take my eyes off the pages as the story organically unfolded. It was almost hypnotic. Now Batman has a more prominent role in this story (whereas the other two were centered on Jane Doe and Bullock), investigating leads and putting together pieces of this enigmatic criminal. 

Face in the Crowd is just engrossing; I can literally feel the excitement in my fingertips as I turn the pages. It got under my skin especially after they apprehended Jane Doe at the end and she was taken to Arkham Asylum. The last two stories delved on her and Harvey Bullock [SPOILERS] whose identity she has stolen for at least a span of weeks or so, AND NOBODY EVEN NOTICED. The Jane Doe story entitled Contained Multitudes was illustrated by Szymon Kudranski and it was seriously horrifying! I can't spoil the story for you so you're going to have to read it. You won't be sorry! Harvey Bullock, This is Your Life was the impressive third arc to end this annual issue. The way this story was crafted has garnered so much potentials for future storylines someday that are told and explored in the same vein. I would definitely like to read more stories with a complex characterization and insightful look on Bullock such as this one. It was even heartbreaking in some places. I would read the fuck out of another Bullock-Jane Doe story. I will be waiting patiently, Layman, but hopefully not for long. I might pick this annual issue again and re-read it with a friend beside me. I was just smitten which is why my rating is going to be a perfect one due to personal taste.


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