The last issue of “Detective Comics” was promising enough for me to come back for “Detective Comics” #15. I’m glad I did. John Layman accepts the challenge of adding in a crossover to the “Death of the Family” story and manages to continue his tale of Batman, Clayface and Poison Ivy, complete with twists, turns and subplots.
Layman’s familiarity with the characters and comfort writing them shines through as he continues to deliver insight into Batman’s thought process. Flummoxed by Clayface’s condition, Batman bides his time, does his detective work and comes up with a solution by the end of “Detective Comics” #15. In accomplishing this, Layman writes a Batman comic book I couldn’t help but enjoy reading. The drama is palpable, the characters engaging and the action intense. Sure, there are a pair of editor’s notes, just like the old days, to clue the reader in to events in other titles that affect the outcome of this issue’s storylines, but those notes don’t impede Layman’s story. “Death of the Family” has an impact on “Detective Comics” #15, but at no point does it feel as though Layman gives up his story to play well with others. As things appear to be wrapping up or drawing to a close with the Penguin, Clayface and Poison Ivy, Layman challenges his readers to put their own detective hats on while they wait for the continuing adventures in next month’s “Detective Comics” #16.
Jason Fabok’s art is stunningly rendered in painstaking detail. Once again Fabok and colorist Jeromy Cox blend together nicely, filling this comic with art rather than a mildly associated collection of images. The fight between Batman and Clayface at the pharmaceutical plant is a shade dark, but the action is still comprehensible and powerful. Fabok’s work is, quite simply, great, even when drawing the napalm armor Batman that appears to be a character design for an action figure line.
Fabok is joined on the art chores by Andy Clarke who tackles the poignant eight-page backup story featuring Clayface. Layman’s lead feature feeds the backup quite nicely and the backup sets up things to come. Clarke’s work, while shadowy and deep, conveys Basil Karlo’s emotions and mindset while adding power and anger to the sludgy behemoth.
“Detective Comics” #15 is the third issue by John Layman with art by Jason Fabok, but it feels as though the pair have been crafting Batyarns together forever. After reading this issue, I certainly wouldn’t mind if this duo continues to collaborate forever, as they haven’t made a misstep yet and continue to add some nice polish to Batman’s world. Introducing a new character in Emperor Penguin and crafting such an intense bond between Clayface and Ivy appear to be just a smidgeon of what this creative team is capable of, and if this is any indication of what’s to come, I’ll definitely be picking up “Detective Comics” as long as Layman and Fabok are listed on the cover.