Comic Vine Review

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Detective Comics Annual #2 - Face in the Crowd; Contained Multitudes; Harvey Bullock, This is Your Life

3

A shape-changing foe has snuck into the GCPD and Batman needs to figure out who it is before they can kill again.

The Good

This is one pretty good looking annual. The primary story has more of a "standard" look, but it's boosted by great amounts of detail and a strong focus on the surrounding areas. Batman's appearance is fitting -- muscular yet not too bulky and incredibly intimidating while wearing the cowl. Wrath's helmet aside, just about everyone and everything looks good and I really appreciate the attention to detail -- it presents consistently enjoyable visuals. The second back up really hits a home run when it comes to eye candy, though. It's a considerably darker style with a strong emphasis on shading and emotion. It's an excellent way to immerse us in the twisted story.

When it comes to the plot, it's widely formulaic but the annual makes up for that by mostly serving as a character study. Of Batman? Or Wrath? Nope! It's about a villain being introduced to this title -- one who I suspect will have a larger role in the coming issues (otherwise, what's the point, right?). I haven't read this character's prior appearances so I have no idea if they've undergone any changes, but this individual can certainly hold the weight of extra panel time. The first and third tales are alright, but the second is by far the most impressive. It definitely has the most passion and originality behind it, delivering some solid twists and turns.

The Bad

My biggest gripe with this story is it throws you right into the middle of something and then needs to utilize the back up stories to flesh it out and make us say, "Oh, okay, so that moment makes more sense now." For example, the first story makes it seem like two characters are relatively new to one another, and then a following scene has one of them saying they're in love the other person. It's one of those, "Wait, what did I miss?" kind of moments and makes no sense in context. Providing us with the meat of this story after these scenes feels like an odd choice to me and really took away from the impact of the first story. In all honesty, it seems like that's the sole purpose of the third story: just to flesh out the primary one and fill in all the gaps.

If you've been following the book, then it's fair to assume this has a pretty decent connection to Wrath. Even the solicitation mentions this issue focuses on a character targeting police, so there's a strong link right there. But Wrath's role is quite literally limited to one page. To top it off, his armor makes it look like he's smiling, so it's a bit jarring. Needless to say, this was disappointing to me.

I also felt like Batman was being downplayed in the final fight sequence. I understand the poor performance at first due to potentially underestimating his target, but the second time he had prep and knew what styles and advantages his enemy was bringing to the table. Despite this, Batman is still way more skilled, yet he looks like a chump in the initial portion of the melee. It's brief and probably not an issue for some, but I'm a bit obsessed when it comes to battles and how characters perform.

Minor gripes: there's one panel of Batman kicking a goon in a super uncomfortable position and his extended leg looks slightly off to me. Also, a specific scene from the first tale is shown again in the final back up story but it's handled differently. In the first story, Batman only throws one batarang. In this, he throws some smaller projectiles, too. I wouldn't mind if this was retelling something which happened awhile ago, but it literally takes place earlier in the issue.

The Verdict

The first back up story is satisfying and there are some gems to be found in the overall narrative, but for the most part, it's pretty generic despite trying to throw us off with a twist. And again, a big hindrance is saving details you need in the first story until the final back up -- it really takes away from what could have been a powerful moment. That said, the art remains solid throughout and it seems fair to assume this is a character who will appear by Wrath's side. If I could, I'd give this a 2.5, but since I can't give half stars, the art in the first and second parts warrant a boost to 3.