Detective Comics #22 (DC)


Rating: 3/5 – Anti-Batman villain the Wrath introduced into the New 52

Detective Comics 22 is the first part of a storyline that will introduce the Batman villain Wrath into the New 52 DC Universe.  For those not familiar with this villain, he first appeared in the 1984 Batman Special #1.  Basically, he’s the anti-Batman.  The Wrath’s parents we’re shot and killed by police officers, and he’s made the opposite vow of Batman to do everything he can to exact his revenge on law enforcement.  It’s a great origin, and although we don’t get to see it in this issue, it will be interesting to see how it’s done in the New 52.

The story opens with, and follows Batman throughout his investigation into the shooting deaths of Gotham City police officers.  In between the investigation, the story also establishes the alter ego of the Wrath in Gotham City, E.D. Caldwell.  Although the interaction with Caldwell was only a few pages in length, it was interesting to see a potential villain created that can potentially be an anti-Bruce Wayne.  It’s clear from the story that Caldwell is modeled after Tony Stark.  From the Caldwell Tech signs hung throughout Gotham to his description as a weapons maker, the parallels are pretty straight forward.  Hopefully they spend a little more time fleshing out his story as it’s not very often that we get to see a villain created not just for Batman, but Bruce Wayne and Gotham City as well.

Writer John Layman does a decent job of introducing us to the Wrath, but at times the dialogue and story situations to show the resemblance to Batman seemed forced.  In one instance the Wrath is talking about finding suitable partners at Gotham’s Home for Troubled Teens.  The potential of an anti-Robin is great, but it could have been told better and more naturally through the story, rather through the obvious dialogue that makes it seemed forced and rushed.  This unfortunately happens throughout most of the issue.  Rather than taking the time with the story and trusting in the reader to pick up the similarities, Layman makes it seem heavy handed and obvious.

We are also given another backup tale in this issue that shows the continuing story of Man-Bat.  This story is written by main story writer John Layman, and illustrated by Andy Clarke.  It’s a great 8-page story that deals with Man-Bat, Kirk Langstrom and a string of deaths throughout Gotham that looks as though the Man-Bat was responsible.  Clarke’s art is superb and makes the back-up story just as good, if not better than the main story.

For readers who may not be familiar with the Wrath, this issue should get you excited for what comes next.  For those readers who are, the backup story may be a better reason to keep following this storyline.  Overall, the introduction of the Wrath works, it’s just a little too obvious in the way it does so.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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