Last month’s ‘Detective Comics’ #10 saw Batman returning to his detective roots. Several crimes were perpetrated by a group of Batman impersonators and a “new” villain, Mr. Toxic, was revealed. This wasn’t the first appearance of Mr. Toxic as he appeared back in issue #6 where he was one of the upstart criminals seeking aid from the Penguin. But now we get more insight into exactly who this guy is. As last issue closed, Batman had linked all of the clues back to Hugh Marder, the CEO of Mecha-North, the tech company that Wayne bought back in #2. When Batman finally caught up to Marder, he found that the man was strapped into what looked like a Large Hardon Collider!
Be warned, there are spoilers below.
Batman starts off this issue being shocked by Mr. Toxic and the pair come to blows. In the skirmish, Mr. Toxic’s glass headgear is broken and Batman discovers that his true identity is… Hugh Marder? Then the Marder that’s trapped in the strange device is killed. What the heck is going on?
The plot thickens on several fronts as the Gotham Morgue attempts to figure out why they have five bodies (some of them the Batman impersonators from last issue) who all look exactly alike. Then Bruce Wayne gets a call from a Professor Smart who says he has some insight into what’s happening. The issue? Professor Smart has been missing and presumed dead for the past year.
As the issue comes to a close, Batman is trying to figure out how and why there are several Hugh Marders running and around Gotham. To that end, he’s comparing cells from a couple of the dead Marders when things turn bad in the Batcave.
Tony Daniel tricked me into thinking that he’d finally gotten onto a regular story path with last month’s issue but here he’s back to what seems like he’s just throwing things into the books and hoping that something sticks. What started off as a good mystery has quickly devolved into a mish-mash of confusing ideas. If Daniel had drawn this tale out a little slower and had these reveals mean more, it might have been okay. As it is, it all comes too fast and mixes in too many ideas. The end result is just boring.
Over Daniel’s run on this title, I’d thought that what he was attempting was some sort of world building for the New 52 Batman universe with his seemingly random introductions of old villains, friends, and characters. But, after this issue, I’m starting to think that Daniel might not have planned that at all and that he really is just random. On the bright side, Daniel will be stepping down from ‘Detective Comics’ with issue #13 and will be replaced with John Layman who wrote the critically acclaimed ‘Chew’ series for Image Comics. So, here’s hoping that Layman can turn this title around and make it the flagship DC title that is deserves to be.
DETECTIVE COMICS #11
Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Ed Benes and Rob Hunter
Backup story art by Szymon Kudranski
Cover by Tony S. Daniel