Friday, November 7, 2014

Detective Comics by John Layman issue #28

I had to re-read the first part of Gothopia story arc which originally appeared in the special anniversary issue Detective Comics #27 which I read earlier in May. Now that the story is fresh in my mind again, I ventured to read the next two issues that followed it. Now I can't wait to get into this review and start discussing some crucial stuff that really got to me--though these things didn't necessarily hold up once you apply some basic logic into them. I initially thought that the concept for Gothopia is intriguing. In this story, Gotham City is the happiest place in America. Batman and his partner Catbird are crime fighters that maintain the peace and are totes lovers.

In the first part of the story featured in issue #27, Poison Ivy is making some ruckus on the peaceful streets of Gotham, asking citizens to open their eyes because they are living a lie. Batman and Catbird come to the rescue and apprehend her, and everyone is back to peachy. EXCEPT IT ISN'T. If you haven't started knitting your eyebrows in confusion as I just told you that Gotham City is the happiest place in America and  everything is peaceful  and freaking Catwoman is called Catbird then you may also be living in an induced mass hallucination courtesy of the Scarecrow. Like I said, the concept for Gothopia was interesting because I've always had a thing for "nothing is what it seems" sorts of stories that are usually surreal and inescapable and reading one in a Batman comic book got me instantly hooked. The revelation that Jonathan Crane a.k.a Scarecrow has somehow managed to put Gotham under a spell as he is aided by other Arkham Asylum neighbors (Harley Quinn, Mr. Freeze, Professor Pyg and the Merrymaker) to "rehabilitate" Batman was a promising venture indeed.

If you don't think too much about it, this issue was an absolute joy. The pacing flowed smoothly for each scene. Batman in a straightjacket as he is under observation by five of the most insane medical professionals was a memorable scene. Batman teaming up with Poison Ivy to concoct a cure to save everyone from the delusion that Scarecrow has blanketed the entire city in guarantees very amusing and thrilling moments. Batman and Catwoman actually becoming a well-adjusted couple who guard the city from petty crimes but only because it's part of a fantasy version where she's not a thief with flip-flopping priorities and allegiance? Viciously poignant. I must confess that this angle actually made my shipper heart falter a bit. I love Bat-Cat!

However, if you examine these elements carefully, some of them fall apart. Gotham City is not exactly closed off the world so how come no one in Metropolis, etc. has noticed that their citizens are acting like they live in a CareBear island of some sort? And how did Scarecrow ever manage to get everyone under a mass hallucination all at once and sustain that? Surely at least ten people will resist the change and start feeling like something's amiss. Batman, being Batman, managed to snap himself out of it but it wouldn't be far-stretched for people in, say, GCPD like Gordon to begin to notice clues here and there. And how can everyone in the city have the same default perspective of their 'perfect' city? After all, Scarecrow just happened to use gas. Shouldn't an airborne virus wash out ESPECIALLY when we see that it had been raining in Gotham for days as well? Like I said, if you become objectively critical about these things, you may enjoy what you're reading less and less.

There is only one more issue to go for this thankfully brief story arc. Again, the concept is intriguing but the execution seems rushed and problematic in many areas which is not something I'd expect from someone of John Layman's caliber. Anyway, I'm hoping he can wrap it up nicely and stick its landing on the next issue.


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