All eyes are on the Dark Knight in 2014 with the 75th Anniversary of Batman upon us. One way DC Comics is celebrating the milestone is through the release of “Batman - Detective Comics Volume 4: The Wrath.” Made up of issues 19 through 24 and Annual 2 of the monthly series, the book keeps the super hero investigating different crimes the way his creator Bob Kane originally envisioned him to.
Batman has his hands full as the super villains of Gotham City continue their reigns of terror. The Caped Crusader crosses paths with the enigmatic 900 and must also foil the devious plans of both Emperor Penguin and a murderous vigilante calling himself The Wrath. While Batman is fighting his archenemies, scientist Kurt Langstrom is battling his own personal demons as it begins to look like his alter ego Man-Bat is committing horrific murders nightly.
“Batman - Detective Comics Volume 4: The Wrath” was written by John Layman, James Tynion IV, and Josh Williamson. Layman did most of the heavy-lifting for the book and you can tell he loves a good mystery. He gives the reader a little to go on one page at a time before revealing the secrets of each story. They might not be the best “who-dun-it” tales to grace “Detective Comics” over the years, but they’re still satisfying for those who want to get back to the hero’s roots.
While Andy Clarke and Jason Fabok share the top credits for the art of “Batman - Detective Comics Volume 4: The Wrath,” they’re helped out by a sea of talent who each get their chance to delve into the dark recesses of Gotham City. Although styles vary, each one gives the different characters featured a personal touch.
Twelve pages of variant covers are included in “Batman - Detective Comics Volume 4: The Wrath.” Artwork is provided by Dustin Nguyen, Alex Maleev, Nathan Fairbairn, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Chris Burnham, Andy Clarke, Jason Fabok, Emilio Lopez, Cameron Stewart, Jeremy Cox, and Tom Richmond. One of the covers is based on the MAD Magazine style and features Alfred E. Neuman as a Man-Bat who left a “surprise” for Batman on the hood of the Batmobile.
“Batman - Detective Comics Volume 4: The Wrath” isn’t the usual graphic novel you would expect. Many collections revolve around one or two central storylines. This book feels like it goes off into a few different directions. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. It can work as an incentive for those who like tales wrapped up in one or two issues. Either way, there’s plenty here for fans of the Dark Knight to enjoy.