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After the long Emperor Penguin arc, but before the Wrath arc, Detective Comics is taking a breather to relax a bit with a done-in-one story. This time, it focuses on Harper Row from Scott Snyder’s Batman run as she continues to try to prove herself in wanting to help Batman with his mission. Is it good?


Detective Comics #21 (DC Comics)


While the Prime Minister from Bhutan is in town, a mysterious assassin with purple shadow power called Penumbra rolls into town to take him out. However, she’s interrupted by Harper Row who had become suspicious of behavior and followed her. From there, Batman swoops in and gets quite a bit of a surprise.


Frankly, I’m more surprised by the fact that she switched costumes in mere seconds.

The backstory focuses on Kirk Langstrom from the Annual and what happened to him after taking the Man-Bat serum himself. He recovered, but soon became a bit addicted and started become very violent while in that form. At least, that’s what he thinks as some bodies start popping up.

Regardless, both stories were very good and enjoyable. Both built upon and continued stories from the previous issues, they had great characters moments (like how Batman saves Harper from Penumbra), they had some good dialogue bits and some humor, it uses or references lots of story bits from other comics to make this world feel more connected to everything, and some very interesting cliffhangers. What makes this issue even better is that while it seems like a filler issue on the surface, since it has nothing to do with the story arcs before and after, it’s extremely clear from all of the little hints, scenes, and dialogue that the writers is definitely laying down a lot of groundwork here that’ll play into future issues.

Detective Comics 21 02“Hey, did you get punked by that Joker face prank a while back, officer?

While the backup artist, Andy Clarke, remains on art duties, Scot Eaton takes over for Jason Fabok for the issue. Combined with the coloring, I almost forgot at points that there was a different artist. Eaton has a very similar style as Jason does, so it keeps a consistent feel between issues if you read them back to back. As such, everything looks just as good as it does usually. Good character and emotion, good action (not very much action surprisingly), good flow from panel to panel, and good full page spreads. Maybe just one hiccup or two along the way though…

Detective Comics 21 03
Gimme five!

9.0

  • Solid writing, dialogue, and characters
  • Great fill-in
  • Lots of intriguing groundwork for the future
  • Not much really happens or is accomplished

Is It Good?

Very much so. Like with how he writes Chew, John Layman is laying down lots of story threads and hints throughout the issue while keeping it entertaining with using moments from the past, adding in good dialogue and humor, and solid character moments. Probably his best issue in a while.