There are dead cops in Gotham, and those who're alive just so happen to find Batman standing over the bodies. These are the same cops from #19, who aren't huge fans of Batman, and they try to convince Gordon that Batman may have killed the cops, but Gordon ins't stupid. The Commissioner points out that Batman may have stopped them from running into the same trap as the dead cops, because there's clearly a new cop killer in Gotham.
The next day (I guess?) Bruce flies in by helicopter to have a rooftop business meeting, like a boss. He's meeting E.D. Caldwell, of Caldwell tech, who has already made their presence known in Gotham, and wants to buy out Wayne Enterprises. Obviously, Bruce declines the offer, despite another zero being added to it, and one would guess, this may come back to bite him in the ass, during his night job.
To expand on why Bruce doesn't accept Caldwell's offer, is because Bruce straight up doesn't like him. Alfred plays devil's advocate and points out how much Caldwell has given back to the community, despite being a weapons manufacturer, and perhaps his emergence in trying to protect Gotham during a certain absence is what bother's Bruce... To be fair, Alfred doesn't like Caldwell either, as he points out. But Bruce is all "WHATEVER" as he's got a cop killer to find.
How convenient, cop killing is taking place! The Wrath is in town, and he's got a sidekick by the name of Scorn, who is former convict, and is ordered to show his scorn to those who put him behind bars. Scorn takes out a couple of police, and when Officer Strode and her partner arrive on the scene, the partner is shot, and Batman arrives 20 some odd seconds late. Before giving chase, Batman checks on the cops, and Strode's partner is all right, thanks to a new bullet proof vest from Caldwell Industries. HMMM.
With the cops squared away, Bruce chases down Scorn, beating him pretty easily. Strode shows up and puts a gun to Scorn's head, upset over the cops he's killed. In the stand-off, Wrath's airship shows up, and lights up the scene, forcing Bruce to grab Strode and get to cover, and allowing Scorn to get away... although dropping his gun, which Bruce picks up as evidence.
Wrath isn't happy with Scorn, not happy at all. He was sloppy, and almost blew the whole operation, which took years to plan. So, Scorn is fired... how so? Well, Wrath mentions his ability to find many suitable replacements, and out the side of the aircraft Scorn goes! Bye!
Then in the back up, Kirk has gotten to the point where he transformed into Man-Bat with out the serum, and that's freaked him out quite a bit, so he's started to get rid of all the formula he's got left. He gets brought in for questioning about the bodies that have been showing up, with attack patters consistent of giant bats, and since he was responsible for the Man-Bat serum, Bullock needs some alibi. Luckily, Francine Langstrom shows up with a whole bunch of tickets, receipts and whatever else, establishing an alibi Kirk doesn't quite have.
Suspicious of his wife, Kirk sneaks out that night, but this time, as himself and heads to his lab. Kirk starts to look through all his wife's files and founds that she pulled his incomplete notes on the Man-Bat serum, and finds out she made her own, only it deviates from his, in that it used the genetic species of a highly aggressive vampiric bat... and I guess we know our killer!
The Wrath is cool, and I enjoy the fact that Layman went into the obscure mythos and pulled out a character not many people know about, and did something interesting with him. That being said, I found the developments in the back-up story to be even more interesting, and that's saying something, because I don't consider Man-Bat (and his wife) to be all that interesting to begin with. This issue shines with that fact that in both features, we're getting fun new takes on old characters that may not have been the most compelling in the past. Take the fun stories, and mix it with another 28 pages of great art from Jason Fabok and Andy Clarke, and you've got yet another fun issue of Detective Comics ready to go.
Emilio Lopez is the new colorer on the main feature, and I don't have a problem with his coloring skills, I just didn't enjoy the pallet he brought as much. With Jeromy Cox, there were pages with vivid colors set against Gotham's generally dark backdrop... here, Gotham is just generally dark. The best way I can explain it is that this issue went all Gears of War/Call of Duty brown and grey on us... mostly everything is brown and grey.
Also, I felt this came off as a bit rushed with pacing? It seems like a story that could be along the size of Emperor Penguin, but it feels like this could be wrapped up next issue.
The Bottom Line:
From the start of John Layman and Jason Fabok's Detective run, they've been toying around with familiar concepts and freshening things up as they go, and this issue is no different. Bringing in the Anti-Batman is right up the alley this creative team lives in, and I'm excited for it, despite my issues with the colors and general quick pace of the story.