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Is It Good? Detective Comics #17 Review

One sure giveaway of a well written Batman comic is a focus on his detective work. In most cases Batman uses fists to solve his problems, but he’s most intriguing when he figures things out. That requires above average writing to make it convincing, however.

Considering how popular CSI is in this country you’d think Batman would always be doing the detective thing, but let’s face it, it’s easier to write fight scenes then detective scenes. This issue is heavy on the detective work so maybe we don’t need to beg the question… is it good?

Detective Comics (2011-) #17 (DC Comics)

Writer John Layman has been doing a bangup job on Batman the last few months. He’s adding new villains to the rogues gallery but he’s doing it from a very human and psychological place. It imbues the characters with a sense of reality and clarity most superhero comics lack.

Sweet name for a villain.

Similar to the Five Finger Death Punch only it’s the three tap sleep smacker. Not the best name I’ll admit.

Batman spends most of this issue piecing together who runs The League of Smiles, which is a new group of Joker knockoffs. It all stems from, as always, a corrupted psychologist. Personally I saw the twist coming a mile away, but with the way this issue reads I don’t think that’s the point. No, it’s more about how Batman thinks and pieces things together. This issue allows the reader to be a fly on the wall in order to see how Batman works and it’s done well.

Aichmomania: A morbid desire to be punctured, perforated, or pierced with pointed objects.

When Layman mentions one of the League of Smile members has Aichmomania…I was dumbstruck. Did he make that up? Nope, it’s a real thing and it’s pretty twisted. The fact that he’s incorporating real and yet obscure psychological conditions shows he’s doing his homework.

I need to get me one of those for work!

Now that’s badass!

The strongest aspect of this issue however is how badass Batman can be. The guy isn’t good simply because he can fight, but because he values knowing what’s going on. He can strut with confidence because his detective work allows him to be 100% sure.

Clown slam!

Artist Jason Fabok continues to do his thing and I’m loving it. His work reminds me a lot of David Finch’s work on Batman: The Dark Knight as it’s detailed and well composed. Nothing is ever confusing or drawn simply to look cool. His work strengthens the story. The backup story is drawn by Andy Clarke and is similar in that it’s highly detailed. The story is a bit of a bore showing us what happened to the psychiatrist Batman was researching in the main story. It discusses obsession and manipulation of those who are mentally sick, but doesn’t offer much of anything new you probably don’t already know.

That’s an interesting take on Arkham and would explain why none of these psychos get sent to prison.

Final Score: 8.5

  • Strong depiction of Batman
  • Fun detective story
  • Ho-hum backup story
  • Predictable twist

There’s a reason this comic is called Detective Comics and it’s on display here. We are witness to a Batman at his best: one who thinks before he fights. Also he’s a major badass in this issue. On top of that the art is astounding.

Is It Good?

Yes. Come for the good writing but stay a little while for the impeccable art.


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