Title: Unnatural Selection
Writers: John Layman
Art by: Jason Fabok
Cover by: Jason Fabok
Release Date: November 7th, 2012
Official DC Comics Synopsis: When Bruce Wayne’s life is saved by The Penguin, what surprises are in store for The Dark Knight? And in the backup story, an intimate look at Gotham City’s most dangerous foes provides a hint of the maelstrom to come.
Review by: Danny Nettleton
With Detective Comics #14, John Layman and Jason Fabok are building on a very solid debut as the creative team of DC’s namesake title and they continue to impress. Beginning exactly where issue 13 leaves off, Bruce Wayne is under assault by a ninja assassin with a flaming sword. As Wayne thinks through how to maneuver out of this threat without displaying to the world that for a layabout billionaire playboy he’s suspiciously well trained in the martial arts, Penguin capitalizes on the opportunity by stabbing the assassin in the back, making himself the hero of the evening. The next night, Batman follows some leads down to Shandy Pharmaceuticals, the next target for eco terrorist and stunning knock-out, Poison Ivy. Batman attempts to defend Shandy against Poison Ivy’s plan to destroy it in order to protect the innocent lives involved despite the fact that it is owned by none other than Oswald Cobblepot (an irony Damien doesn’t fail to point out. Soon after they begin fighting Batman realizes they’ve both been suckered into a trap set by the Penguin. Batman and Poison Ivy are rendered unconscious and Oglivy, the Penguin’s mysterious top henchman, picks up Ivy and leaves, telling Batman his time to die is not just yet. When batman regains consciousness, he is being manhandled by an angry Clay Face demanding to know what has become of his wife!
John Layman’s ability to resolve plots quickly and convincingly is really paying off in this issue. I was worried we were going to be bogged down in a never ending arc about ninja assassins but they were swiftly exited stage right and replaced with the far more compelling staples (and, sorry Supes and WW, DC’s newest power couple): Poison Ivy and Clay Face. What I love about John Layman’s writing is that he doesn’t waste your time. A lesser writer would have spent the whole issue resolving the events of the fundraiser night but Layman gets it done before the title page. Then he puts us right in the middle of the action with Batman and Poison Ivy. This rapid pace grabs us as readers and takes us along. This read was thoroughly enjoyable and I loved the twist with Clay Face showing up at the end. Their “beauty and the beast” relationship should be twisted and interesting. Also twisted and interesting is Penguin’s henchman Oglivy. It was he who suggested that Cobblepot seize the moment and save Bruce Wayne. There’s more to this guy than meets the eye.
The real star of this issue, though, was the art. Jason Fabok continues to prove he’s an artist who can draw fists as well as faces, capturing each character’s emotions perfectly as well as delivering up some awesome action sequences. Thanks to his penciling, Poison Ivy is truly seductive, Batman is dark, and clay face is CRAZY! The pencils when married to the wonderful color job by Jeromy Cox, makes for some pretty awesome comic art. The special effects are vibrant without being overdone. From the rainbow pulses in Batman’s visor to the green gas emerging at Shandy Pharmaceutical, the color tricks are convincingly integrated into the rest of the art and serve to enhance the story telling rather than distract from it.
If you pick up one Bat title this month, let’s face it, it’s probably going to be Batman #14. But if you’re choosing more than one, this one definitely needs to be in your stack. Rubber lips or not, you will not be immune to its charms!