Graphic Novel Review: Detective Comics Vol. 1 – Faces of Death

While in the main Batman book, after Flashpoint, Scott Snyder jumped more or less straight into the Court of Owls storyline, over in Detective Comics writer Tony S. Daniel has a couple stories that fit in a little more with members of Batman’s existing rogues gallery – with a story featuring two existing members and re-interpreted versions of a couple others.

The newly interpreted villain here is Dollmaker, now in his third incarnation as a deranged plastic surgeon with a grudge on James Gordon. In particular, he’s been working with some of Gotham’s more unhinged rogues, most notably The Joker. This version of Dollmaker is an immensely creepy character and he’s executed very well. This version works a lot of body horror into his design and his crimes.

Dollmaker’s part of the storyline is nicely done, creating a character who really feels like a threat to both Batman and Gotham, and who hopefully will get some interesting stories with him in the future within the Bat-books. Dollmaker also serves to set some events in motion for Death of the Family but considering he’s not on-screen that heavily in that storyline, it’s not really that much of a follow-up for that character.

The second little arc in this volume introduces the new character of Snakeskin – who is something of a more simplified version of Clayface. Snakeskin is a con artist and thief who, as a result of a medical experiment he took part in, can shed his face like a snake sheds its skin, and replace it with a new face, which in turn allows him to take on a new identity. It’s a concept that is quick to explain, is introduced very quickly, and can make for a great villain that isn’t necessarily on the same level as the A-List members of Batman’s rogue’s gallery, but still who can add some spice to an existing storyline.

Much is the case here – he’s tied in with a storyline involving Jill “Chase” Hampton, a femme-fatale thief who is trying to rip off The Penguin’s new Iceberg Lounge (now operating on a large barge in international waters), and who is the twin sister of Bruce Wayne’s current flame – local reporter Charlotte Rivers. The second half of the story is a little more conventional and feels like Daniel was going for a shorter story on account of the Court of Owls crossover event coming and needing to account for that with his plotting.

In all, it’s a pretty fun story, and definitely worth at the very least checking out from the library. The book is also available from Amazon in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle/Comixology editions. Buying anything through those links helps to support the site.

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