Saturday, November 1, 2014

Detective Comics by John Layman issue #20

I'm torn about this issue. The build-up of the Emperor Penguin storyline, despite the side tracks it often encounters with other minor story arcs along the way, had been believably well-balanced for the previous seven issues. I was able to enjoy the slow but not necessarily drawn out pacing that Layman had treated this story with; even if there were multiple things happening that coincide it. Layman kept Batman busy in Detective Comics, all right, but he also allowed sufficient time to tackle the cases and their respective persons of interest in his backup stories which actually served as beguiling supplement material which were always relevant to the grand scheme of things he's building up.

The conclusion for the Emperor Penguin story arc wasn't a slam dunk, though. It had its problems (which had more to do with Batman's role; which wad underused so his impact was something that was underwhelming), and Ignatius Oglivy's motivation for trying to take Oswald Cobblepot's empire for his own in the first place. I don't have any strong feelings for Oglivy in general. I didn't like him. I didn't hate him. I accept his pivotal role, I acknowledge his resourcefulness and initiative to go toe-to-toe with Cobblepot, and I thought his careful planning was darn impressive even if it didn't make me root for him unlike with other previous villains. I just don't know how to rate this issue properly once I'm done writing this review.

On one hand, I enjoyed Cobblepot's scenes because his actions were unpredictable. I thought he was amusingly inscrutable all throughout the story which worked well. I also thought the backup story with Oglivy in Blackgate as we discuss his childhood and humble beginnings to a life of crime had been a splendid sequence. It helped me understand him better because the main story somewhat diluted his threat and accomplishment as Emperor Penguin. I wasn't convinced that he had done anything remarkable enough to warrant his name in the annals of Bat-villains who did great and terrible things.

And that's probably because I didn't like how his fight with Batman played out. It was just...too easy and a bit cheap. Also, the GCPD has no presence in here whatsover which is just grating because police incompetency is a trope that I don't like seeing in my fiction, especially when their absence only reinforces the tackiness of the pay-off for a story's conclusion. Honestly, the narrative flashback in Blackgate, Cobblepot's actions and that revelation that Oglivy might not be done with his conquering (and might strategically do so while in prison) were the most compelling elements of the issue which was a terrific thing. The rest of the other stuff almost killed it and definitely did not help with my rating below. I'm still pretty interested to see where Layman plans to take Oglivy's character in the future for New 52. I'm certainly still enjoying myself with this title. Fabok and Clarke are wonderful art accompaniments to Layman's narrative style. What they had done so far still hits my sweet spot. This issue was more of a miss than a hit for me, nevertheless, but I can easily forgive it because there is something salvageable.


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