Detective Comics 20
John Layman, Jason Fabok, Andy Clarke

Spoiler alert! You have been warned!


The conclusion to the Emperor Penguin story, which has been building for the entirety of John Layman’s run, came to a conclusion this issue. And though I have my reservations, this writer is slowly growing on me. Perhaps it’s just that I’m always a little more lenient when it comes to my favorite character and his stories. Or perhaps it’s because Jason Fabok’s art is absolutely beautiful. And the backup stories are truly amazing every single issue. But one thing is for sure. Layman is going to be around for a while. And for the time being, I’m going to officially go on record with saying that I’m okay with that.


The conclusion, much like a lot of this run, just seemed like a great story with a rushed ending. We have the Penguin’s courtroom drama, which ends exactly like every other time a villain has been brought in on unrelated charges. We have Batman threatening everyone to find out where Ogilvy is hiding, which ends exactly like every other time a hero needs to get from point A to point B in a comic book. And then after the new crime boss seemingly defeats the Bat (and, you know, walks away before it can really happen), the old crime boss, recently released and freed of all charges, saves him because, as is with all villains, he wants his rightful place back on top. Hero teams with lesser of two evils. Hero beats new bad guy. Old bad guy takes back his old job as head bad guy. Zoom out to show new villain lurking in the shadows. Then we get a backup feature that shows Emperor Penguin’s origin as well as his new placement and new title as Emperor Blackgate.

Detective Comics 20 Picture 2

So this issue does a good job getting us ready for the next storyline without completely destroying what the writer and artist had been setting up for months. And it successfully shows that Batman is a badass and the original Penguin is significantly cooler than we originally gave him credit for. But that backup story, though great, should have really been an issue in of itself, just like all of the other backups this series has had. I get that they’re trying to tell a story that is fast-paced and exciting, but I feel sort of like the longer and more drawn out storytelling of this title back when it was crossing over with the Death of the Family comics was more better-suited for Layman’s storytelling. The action is almost too fast. It seems almost like it’s a lazy attempt at ending a story without actually having to tell the story. In other words, Layman needs to either be given an 80 Page Giant sized issue each month, or he needs to just be okay with taking his time. Slow down. Enjoy yourself. After all, you’ve got the best job in the world.


My Rating: 3/5