Detective Comics Annual #2 Review: “Face In The Crowd” by John Layman, Joshua Williamson, Scot Eaton, Szymon Kudranski, and Derlis Santacruz
The second Detective Comics Annual is a quick adventure featuring a new villain in the New 52: Jane Doe. This Annual also boasts two well developed back-up stories featuring Jane Doe and some old favorites like Harvey Bullock.
The Good: Detective Comics Annual #2 is a quick-moving story that brings a new serial killer to Gotham and gives the reader an excellent glimpse inside the life Harvey Bullock, especially in the back-up stories. Annual #2 is heartbreaking for Bullock and the reader, as we get a rare peak into a typically stoic character’s emotions. Everyone thinks about the ways they can improve their life and their ideal self, and that makes Harvey all the more relatable. He’s one of Gotham’s underrated characters that provides an everyman point of view into the GCPD and Batman’s world. For anyone who has wished they got the girl out of their league, this is a touching, bittersweet story of Harvey Bullock. In particular, I loved the line Harvey thinks to himself at the bar, “But, in the end, it was still my life. Which means things were bound to go wrong eventually.”
We see how this issue relates to current on-going story arc with The Wrath placing Jane Doe inside the GCPD. However, Wrath’s appearance is minor and that allows this annual issue to be a good stand-alone story. It’s cool when an over-sized annual issue connects with the on-going arc, but it’s even better when the creative team can tell a short, self-contained story that doesn’t need any set-up or prior knowledge.
John Layman, with writing duties shared with Josh Williamson, and artist Scot Eaton did a nice job of introducing a new character into the Batman mythos with a standard three-act structure that any reader can pick up and enjoy. Scot Eaton previously did the art for Detective Comics #21, which featured Penumbra and tied into the #0 issue. His art was solid back then and continues to be solid in this issue.
Szymon Kudranski was on art duties for the first back-up story and his eerie style fit excellently with the tone and atmosphere of Arkham Asylum. The second back-up story featured Derlis Santacruz’s art and his realistic approach showcased the no-nonsense Harvey Bullock nicely. It felt like classic Harvey Bullock to have him recall this story while slouched on a barstool, shoulders burdened with self-reflection, swigging down a drink.
The Bad: One thing I didn’t understand in this issue was how Batman knew Wrath’s name. In the previous issue that started this arc, Batman doesn’t even run into Wrath. He meets E.D. Caldwell and chases down Wrath’s sidekick Scorn, but doesn’t encounter Wrath yet. All he knows is that someone is killing cops and they’ve got some mighty powerful guns and technology on their side. So when Gordon is asking Batman about the cop-killer, Batman replies, “Wrath. I’m on it. I’ll stop him.”
The only other point of contention I had with this issue is that Wrath refers to his jet as “the Wrathcopter.” I get that Wrath is supposed to be an evil counterpart to Batman, and Batman has his Batjet so Wrath should have his own eponymous vehicle, but come on—“Wrathcopter” does sound a little silly, no? How did Jane Doe keep a straight face when she heard that? Maybe if Wrath didn’t kill off his sidekick Scorn in the previous issue he could have run that idea by him to get a second opinion. I realize it’s not a big deal and ultimately it’s in line with the idea he’s just like Batman. It just made me laugh when I read that part. Wrathcopter.
The Verdict: Overall this was a fun, over-sized issue. The annual did a great job of tying into the on-going story arc without being tied down by it. It’s an enjoyable stand-alone story that is quick and action-packed. It was great to see the spotlight shine on an under-appreciated and sometimes neglected character like Harvey Bullock. Casual readers, first time readers, and long-time readers can all find something to enjoy in Detective Comics Annual #2.
4 out of 5 stars