It feels good to have a John Layman book to praise a day after expressing my mixed feelings about his signature Image book Chew. Call me a philistine if you will, but thanks to Jason Fabok's art, Layman's interesting ideas are served well in Detective Comics #15 and I enjoyed it without fewer reservations.
This is the first issue of this series I've read since the Joker nailed his face to the wall and everything seemed kind of lame – and that would be issue #1. This here is a tie-in to the Joker's return in the "Death of the Family" arc, but the Clown Prince of Crime is scarecely a factor here beyond messing with the Penguin's business. Instead, this is a story about the marriage of Poison Ivy and Clayface, which was a surprising enough development on page one that I was hooked instantly. I had to know what the deal was – and I surely didn't know if this was a continuing saga from previous issues or not. As it is, Detective Comics #15 stands alone very well, and also sets up an interesting development in the Gotham underworld.
It starts by showing us Poison Ivy buried alive, flashbacks to Pamela Isley and Basil Karlo getting married in Vegas and as a sort of Bonnie & Clyde, on a crime spree across the south, and then Clayface pounding the hell out of Batman demanding to know where his wife is. Clayface is jacked up on Ivy power, thorny and too much for Batman, so he has to tactically retreat to figure out what in the world Karlo's talking about. The unraveled mystery does not sit well with the mud monster. As the B-story, we see that the Joker putting his hooks into the Penguin (as seen in Batman #14), has taken Oswald Cobblepot's eye off the ball, and he's got a threat to his operation he never expected.
It's a cool little story, setting up some great drama between Batman's rogues, and Fabok's art is nice – cool, slick, standard superhero action with some great renderings of Clayface in turmoil. He even makes Batman's anti-Clayface suit seem awesome instead of cheesy.
Layman may have hooked me onto another Bat-book with Detective Comics #15. Maybe the more I read of him, the more likely I'll be to take another crack at Chew.