Story: Michael Grey
Art: Ryan Benjamin, Richard Friend
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Troy Peteri
What They Say:
It’s a mad dash as Batman races to stop a murderous plan – but when the villain is revealed to be in two places at once, and the victim turns out to be not so innocent, Batman must make the ultimate choice in a fight against Clayface.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
I have to admit, I find Batman a tough character to get into these days. Something about him and the way he’s been presented for so long as being so good at nearly everything has left me less interested in him, though I still like the Bruce Wayne material. Michael Grey opts for an entirely Batman-oriented story here but as a one-off in the middle of his career as Batman it works well as he’s paired with Clayface and called out a bit on his approach. Ryan Benjamin and Richard Friend put in a great looking book with the use of Clayface as the villain as he’s very dynamic and fun to watch here and all the settings are great, feeling like a modern Gotham City but with the touches of the old that it needs in order to be Gotham.
The driving force of the story is Dillon Yates, a movie actor who has found himself framed for the murder of a film producer in cold blood, filmed in a ballroom with many people in attendance. It’s fun at the start as we see him escaping in a slick car going on about doing all his own stunts in his chase movies but it’s only luck that keeps him alive until Batman gets his hands on him and puts an end to the potential accidents and chaos that he’s causing. But the reality is that while Batman has every reason to believe he’s guilty based on the film in hand, he has to admit to Gordon that there’s some concern as there’s footage of him elsewhere. The classic two places at the same time problem but with modern technology where both are identified as being Yates. This lets Bats go all classic detective for a little bit to try and figure it out, working through the holdings of the dead man to see what the draw was.
It’s not a hard thing though as one of the holdings was a grand Gotham theater house that’s now slated for demolition, which has tiles to Karlos, aka Clayface. Clayface has been a favorite of mine on the Harley Quinn series but I really enjoyed him in Gotham Academy and his more serious side, so seeing him play serious here is great. It’s not really a tricky situation but you have him having done all of this for reasons beyond his own personal desire as Yates is known for some dark deeds. That sets up the clash between his approach and Batman’s approach to justice, which you can pick apart easily. You do want to give Clayface a little nod for at least thinking beyond just his own base desires, especially as Grey presents well his frustration with his own existence. It’s a standard but really well-executed fight we get between the two that lets it carry on for another day but it’s just a delight to watch them go at it and for Batman to be taken for a bit of a ride.
I grew up reading a ton of one-off Batman stories and getting more like this is definitely good for me. I’m just not into the big arcs and him as a primary character these days as I’ve preferred the fringe Gotham books like Gotham By Midnight and Gotham Academy. But what we get from the team here is something that can draw me back to the character with simple detective tales, shows of intelligence, good action sequences, and solid use of the villains as well. It may be a somewhat predictable story but we’ve got what, seventy years of Batman stories? Predictability is baked into it. It’s fun is what counts and with a good Clayface tale, it works even better.
Age Rating: 12+
Released By: DC Comics via ComiXology and Amazon Kindle
Release Date: April 28th, 2020