Sunday, November 2, 2014

Detective Comics by John Layman issue #21

I liked the first Detective Comics Annual (which was actually not penned by Tony S. Daniel so that in itself probably helped) and Layman deciding to take a character from that standalone to infuse on this issue was a fine enough move, but I'm not sure that the execution of the story he chose to tell was the best choice. The bottom line is that I didn't care much for the 'shadow' assassin Mio. I honestly felt that she served her purpose on that Annual story and I really didn't need to know her beyond that. It wasn't like Layman made her interesting or sympathetic either.

I guess I won't be saying anything more about Mio in this review because she wasn't what got me reading--that was understandably going to be Harper Row. I like Harper. I got to know her first from Snyder's Batman issue #12 and again in the Requiem issue #18 and I became very fond of her in both instances. I thought she had a great personality, a sympathetic motivation for her choices, and a fleshed-out personal relationship with her brother Cullen. She definitely demonstrates enough autonomy to survive Gotham, and a possesses real sense of what is right and what is wrong, as well as the willingness to do good when she's able. Harper Row is a great upcoming heroine, and might qualify to be the next sidekick for Batman. I don't think she was created to replace Damian Wayne as Robin. I think she can be her own crime-fighter and she's definitely getting more entangled with dangerous events in Gotham, and this issue further drives that point.

As interesting as Harper is, and even though I thought Layman placed in her in a situation that once again showcased the promise of what she could be if only Batman took the time to acknowledge her drive, and that wonderful spark only tenacious youth can channel, Harper wasn't the focal point of the story. That's a darn shame because, as I've stated earlier in this review, I didn't think Mio was compelling enough to sustain my interest, let alone for me to make any substantial connection with her. It's not like she was the first failed romance for Bruce Wayne--she certainly won't be the last. There was just not enough personal background for her aside the fact that she murdered one of Bruce's mentors, faked her death, trained to be a more ruthless assassin, and then came back to Gotham only to disappear quickly without making any kind of lasting impression. She was a waste of time for me and I got the sense that perhaps Layman might be setting up something else and this was just a distraction. I certainly hope so. I dully pray that he has an engrossing story for the next issues. A one-note shadow assassin just didn't do it for me at all. It's a saving grace that Harper was here, and that Batman has softened up a bit with her and looked like he's ready to let her in soon.
As for the backup story, it was all about Kirk Langstorm and the Man-Bat from issue #19. I was actually happier about this one than the shadow assassin. I'm glad Layman followed up on the Man-Bat serum storyline and Kirk's role in all of this. I was never a Man-Bat fan but I did like New 52's take on Kirk Langstorm, not completely painting him as a villain with evil motivations. He seemed like your average guy with a troubled inclination for desiring something greater and infinitely dangerous--which can be nothing but trouble in the long run, naturally. I suppose I'll find out on the next issues where this subplot will go.
Overall, this was a serviceable issue. Not really anything daring or new but it wasn't completely rubbish either.

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