Batman: Detective Comics #28 – “Gothtopia Pt. 2”
Written by John Layman with art by Aaron Lopresti
Batman puts the pieces of the puzzle together in order to find out who is behind “Gothtopia!”
Writer John Layman crafts an interesting Scarecrow story with part two of “Gothtopia.” Over the years, readers have seen plenty of stories wherein Jonathan Crane uses his fear toxin to torment the people of Gotham to get Batman’s attention. In “Gothtopia” however, Scarecrow modifies his legendary formula to do the opposite of that; he wants the citizens of Gotham to be content and happy in order for his fear toxin to be more potent. In Batman: Detective Comics #28, Layman explores this premise and forces Batman to solve the mystery of this new, delusional Gotham. Layman puts the “detective” in Detective Comics as Batman deduces who is responsible for his imprisonment inside Arkham Asylum and the rash of suicides in Gotham.
Fans of the Scarecrow will enjoy his time in the spotlight as he takes center stage with the help of several other Bat-villains like Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn, Professor Pyg, and even The Merry-Maker, a character created by Layman and artist Jason Fabok in earlier issues of Detective Comics. There are several other references to previous storylines, including an appearance from Flamingo and plot points from last year’s Batman Annual #2. It is always good to see elements of recent storylines reflected in continuity, even in minor examples like Arkham Asylum’s recent security upgrade. These details by Layman give the issue a sense of connectivity to the rest of the Bat-universe.
Aaron Lopresti’s art is good in this issue. His best work can be seen in the facial expressions, posing, and body language of the characters. Inks by Art Thibert and colors by Blond seal the deal for this book.
The most interesting part of Detective Comics #28 is the revelations about Scarecrow’s plans to terrorize Gotham with sedatives. Batman spends most of this issue trying to figure out what is going on with the mass delusions. It is a lot of exposition and Batman explaining his super science skills as the narrator. The only action in this issue comes from Batman trying to escape Arkham, but that is relatively easy as he faces very little resistance. Although Mr. Freeze, Professor Pyg, Mr. Zsasz, and many other ruthless killers are seen working alongside Scarecrow, only Killer Croc manages to put up a (brief) fight against Batman. Without much resistance, this jailbreak lacks some of the drama that makes for an exciting escape story. It’s not a bad issue, but it doesn’t stand out as particularly exciting either.
John Layman and Aaron Lopresti create an interesting Scarecrow story that reminds readers why he is one of Batman’s greatest foes. Casual Batman readers, and fans of the Scarecrow in particular, will enjoy this “Gothtopia” storyline. The action in this book takes a back seat to the mystery-solving detective side of Batman, but this is Detective Comics after all.