“It’s weird because when I came on”, John Layman observes, “I didn’t know about ‘Death of the Family’ and I had this Penguin oriented story and then the Snyder stuff got presented me…”, my heart doesn’t sink, but at least part of me is seasoned enough to know that it should. Newly-minted Detective lead writer John Layman (lead writer as of Detective #13) is talking about the new multi-title Batman crossover, “Death of the Family” that sees the Joker return to Gotham, only to tear apart the Bat-Family.
Spearheaded by Batman writer Scott Snyder, “Death of the Family” has blistered through the fear and the loathing of seeing the Joker return, showing in excruciating the psychological frailty the Joker has always been able to find in his adversaries. Having begun in Batman and already crossed over into Catwoman and Batgirl, “Death of the Family” will still arc its way through Detective, Nightwing and Batman & Robin among others before completing it’s full arc. And if Snyder’s earlier major crossover, “Court of Owls”, is anything to go by, the Joker’s decimation of the Bat-Family will not leave the continuity unchanged.
John Layman’s run thus far on Detective has been rock solid. The opening issue showed the Penguin doing as much social damage to Bruce Wayne as he usually does physical damage to Batman. Layman’s mastery of Batman’s psychology is clearly evident as early as the first page—where Batman cracks a joke, only to betray his logical, rational mindset that makes him such a keen detective.
I should be jaded enough to watch my heart sink as Layman begins his answer. I should be more open to the idea that Layman (well, he would be sensitive about it) but would nonetheless reference creative conflict between his own vision and Snyder’s. But… But, Layman turns my subjunctive expectations on their head. He instead completely allays my fears of having to hear about creative infighting. Instead the jaded cynicism just melts away and I’m a fan again—just like when I read his opening issue of Detective, just like when I read that first page.
“It’s weird because when I came on”, John Layman observes, “I didn’t know about ‘Death of the Family’ and I had this Penguin-oriented story and then the Snyder stuff got presented me, and it actually really worked with what I needed to do. Penguin has to be at a certain place for my story to work. And it was just sort of synchronicity that I could hand him over to Scott”.
It’s a single answer late in the interview. And as I hear Layman’s words, a wave hits. It’s a single answer that redeems the idea of creative collaboration, redeems the Bat franchise, and even seems to redeem the idea of the New 52.
Please enjoy a sneak preview of Detective #15, released this Wednesday.
// Notes from the Road
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