Robb Ghag reviews Detective Comics #18…
Following the aftermath of Death of the Family and Batman: Incorporated #8, we enter the Batman’s new chapter called “Requiem”.
The fallout from Death of the Family has left Batman again the lone vigilante of justice. It’s been some time since I read a Batman story where one of Red Robin, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, or any number of the Bat-Family didn’t come in to assist the Dark Knight Detective. This is bringing Batman back to his roots, and it begins to pay off here.
The story starts with Penguin at the Gotham City Zoo, removing a cache of his penguin umbrellas and heading for an ultimate confrontation with his former assistant, Ogilvy. Ogilvy, sporting a monocle and sitting at Penguin’s desk in the Iceberg Casino, seems unconcerned, and in fact welcomes Cobblepott’s arrival.
The story reverts to earlier in Arkham Asylum, where Batman has knocked out Black Mask, White Shark and others, and is attempting to take Penguin to Blackgate prison. Penguin in one of his more clever moments, points out that the Joker was the one who threatened to kill him if he didn’t cooperate. And while Penguin is hardly innocent, Batman cannot prove any of the charges against him.
As Penguin leaves Arkham a free bird, Cash informs Batman that Victor Zsasz has escaped.
Back at Wayne Manor the aftermath of Damian’s death has taken its toll on Bruce Wayne as he stands over his parents’ grave, with Alfred trying to comfort him.
Back at Cobblepot’s mansion guards refuse to allow Penguin back onto the premises and state “The Penguin hired them”. This infuriates Cobblepot to the point one of the guards has to knock him to the ground, telling him “You’re nobody. Get Lost”. Not Long Thereafter Cobblepot gets in touch with Ogilvy who explains the way things are now. Penguin’s fortune, assets and finally his name are no longer his, and now belong to Ogilvy, who has adopted the name “Emperor Penguin”.
Batman meanwhile on the hunt for Zsasz patrols Gotham and begins to worry that the fact Zsasz is silent means he is planning something gruesome. And in a different part of the city we see Zsasz hovering over two dead bodies; men in suits. He holds a very specific blade in hand over the dead bodies marking himself 2 new notches on his forearm.
We cut to Batman flying over the Iceberg Casino in the Bat-Wing as over the radio; calls of shots fired are reported. The following splash page is fantastic from Fabok, as Batman crashes through the skylight confronting an umbrella wielding Penguin firing erratically. Batman captures Cobblepot and finally has him on charges that will put him back in Blackgate Prison. Penguin tells Batman he has the best lawyers in Gotham who will get him out in an hour! To which Batman replies: Zsasz has killed his lawyers (referring to the two men in suits Zsasz killed earlier). Penguin gets taken away by GCPD.
The Epilogue shows the Iceberg Casino where “Emperor Penguin” is holding court, with Victor Zsasz waiting for his payment. Emperor Penguin speaks with Ms. Volkova a former employee and now enemy of Talia Al Ghul, offering to hide her and provide her with protection. The price for his protection is she hands over a vial of “Man-Bat Serum”.
The additional backstory we find at the end is a fantastic read (as most of the backstories have been since the new 52, and probably one year earlier). It deals with the history between Zsasz and the Penguin, and as written by John Layman gives more depth and humanity to the character of Victor Zsasz. It has a great guest appearance and explains how Zsasz escaped Arkham, and essentially how he came to be, and why he despises the Penguin.
BONUS at the end of this book is a Sneak Preview of Constantine #1.
Robb Ghag works for an Arts & Entertainment Brokerage in Toronto Canada. An Animation and Film school graduate, he specializes in Risk Management of Animation and VFX studios throughout North America.