Wednesday, March 5, 2014

SPOILERS: Detective Comics #29

Batman is under the Scarecrow's control! But how'd this happen? Well, when Bruce and Ivy started fighting off the fear gas influenced Catwoman, Batgirl, and all them, they started to win, so Scarecrow decided to threaten their lives in exchange for Bruce standing down. Bruce agrees, and Scarecrow dosed him with the new toxin... that Bruce already vaccinated himself against, but plays along with Scarecrow and "turns" on Ivy.

Bruce's plan is to go along with Scarecrow's allies to see just what they're doing, so he pretends to cooperate with Pyg and Merrymaker, while they go out in the city to collect "fear" while Gotham sleeps. Pyg and Merrymaker lead Batman to an apartment complex where they intend strike, but Bruce leads them to a different set of apartments, where he actively takes part in dosing innocents with fear toxin, which he feels bad about... but we learn later that he lead Pyg and Merrymaker to life long criminals he's never been able to put away, who now will have nightmares about Batman every night, so oh well?

In working with Scarecrow's allies for the night, Bruce learns that Scarecrow is extracting a pure form of fear from his victims, and using to create a stronger fear toxin, which he has plans to spread all over the place, outside of Gotham. But since Bruce has never been under the influence this whole time, he also slips the antidote into the toxin that is loaded on to blimps, sent for distribution. So it's only a matter of time before... well, the blimps blow up for some reason, and everyone snaps out the Gothtopia haze? So that manes he likes of Batgirl, Catwoman and Batwoman also snap out of it, and they all take out Scarecrow and his allies fairly quickly.

So with Scarecrow defeated, he gets taken in by the GCPD, but not before escaping the cuffs he's put in and impaling Batman... this of course is him being dosed with his own contentment serum, and in his form of Gothtopia, he kills Batman. In reality, Scarecrow is just going crazy in his cell, as Batman, Gordon and Jeremiah Arkham watch on. Before Bruce leaves, he makes sure to tell Gordon and Arkham that the effect won't be permanent, and Scarecrow will eventually come back to his senses and realize where he is, which is their sign to keep a close eye on him.

In a short epilogue, Catwoman finds Batman and discusses with him the fragments of what she remembers. It's not much, but she remembers them being more than just partners, and being happy... but TOO BAD! BATMAN DON'T PLAY THAT GAME! SHIT WAS FAKE, AND BATMAN GOT BATMAN STUFF TO DO!


The Good:

If there's one thing John Layman's Batman has been through his year+ run, it's clever and we get more of that here. I enjoyed seeing Batman sort of go undercover, and despite having by "huh?" moment when he actually started dosing people with fear gas, I got quite the smile on my face when we learned that he was just dosing criminals he could never put away, which is right up there with some of my favorite grim humor moments I've lead from Layman.

The Bad:

The science here gets a little... iffy, even for a comic. What exactly is Scarecrow extracting? A pure form of fear? Okay... but what's in those vials? Is it supposed to be blood? Well, it's glowing green... so what exactly is this neon body fluid? And why does the counteragent Batman created make dozens of blimps with the fear toxin blow up? ...and after those blimps blow up, why does everyone just snap out of it? Was it supposed to be one of those "The antidote rains down" sort of thing? Maybe the art just didn't depict it all too well? Yeah, kind of weird overall.

The last scene also just seemed... well, sort of mean. Did we really need to stomp all over Catwoman's heart like that? I felt bad for her.

The Bottom Line: 

And with that, Layman's time on Detective Comics comes to an end with the conclusion of Gothtopia.  Despite some questionable comic science, Gothtopia finished with Batman doing what Batman does best, being smarter than everyone else. Unfortunately, while we get a good helping of clever Batman, there's not a whole lot more to the conclusion other than "Batman figures out what's going on and stops it." The conclusion was good, just didn't really leave a lasting impression, which is unfortunate, given it was Layman's last issue, and I think he's done some pretty great stuff in his run. At least we've got four issues of Batman: Eternal from him!



  1. Hm. Haven't read it yet, but I wonder if this is the thing that sent Bruce and Selina's relationship to the pits pre-Bat28. I hope not. :\