By: Matthew Rapier

The first story arc for Detective Comics has come to an end, and the Dollmaker is off the map for the time being while Batman goes on the hunt for a faceless Joker. A group of Joker supporters have gathered to protest the grotesque treatment of the clown prince of crime, demanding Batman pay for his actions.  As Batman eavesdrops in on an alley meeting with Axel Bellamy and Russian immigrant Boris Gorky, a clown faced individual leaps into the group, maiming a majority of the men around.

Batman gets caught in the crowd of Joker followers while chasing after the silent clown assassin and loses him in the distance. With luck, the assailant dropped his coat with a $1000 poker chip inside from the Iceberg Casino. A huge ice styled building is shown in the middle of the water at Gotham’s bay with Penguin inside, asking three of his female assistants to dispose of a pesky investigative journalist.

The backup feature follows a young man named Eli who’s joined in on an underground poker game with “The Mad Russian”. (could be Boris Gorky) When things go awry, Catwoman shows up to take care of the Russian men and reveals that Eli was used as a means to get inside their lair. A man watches Eli as he leaves the area talking to himself as the young man’s father. The rounded glasses on his face make it clear, it’s Hugo Strange.

This is an odd issue. I didn’t know there would be a back-up story at all. I reached the end of the first story with Penguin and assumed that was the end of the issue, feeling like it was way too short. A group of people defending Joker’s mistreatment is weird as well. There would be just as many, if not more, people who supported Batman’s actions that could drive those Jokerites out of town.  As for the second story, I am much more interested in where it is headed. Both stories were written by Tony Daniel, but it felt like he only wanted to write the back-up and just threw out something for the main piece.

The strongest area of both stories definitely comes in the art. Daniel hasn’t faltered yet when it comes to the images for his writing. Szymon Kudranski handles the second story art which is crafted quite nicely. I really like his work in the mini-series Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, so it’s good to see him being used elsewhere. My vote goes for Daniel sticking to the script with Kudranski coming in for the art. Overall, a mixed bag with both stories being a bit short.

Overall Grade 6/10