Review: Detective Comics Annual #1

“Clay”
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Eddy Barrows & Eber Ferreira
Review by Steve J. Ray
To tie in with the monumental events of “Fall Of The Batmen” in Detective Comics, DC have released the first annual of the Rebirth era for this series. “Clay” serves as an in-depth introduction to Clayface, an emotional catalyst to elevate the impact of his fate in the ongoing book, and as a modern retelling of his origin.
As a big fan of James Tynion IV and all his work, I’m sad to announce that this issue – for me at least – doesn’t fully succeed in this remit.
Don’t get me wrong. For new readers not familiar with Basil Karlo’s story, “Clay” is a great look into his life. It’s a snapshot of his character, and his motivations. Anyone new to comics who has felt the effects of “Fall Of The Batmen” will no doubt see this as the perfect companion piece to that terrific arc.
New readers. New to comics. For myself; an older, dyed in the wool fan, I don’t think we needed yet another ret-conned comics origin. Some may say I’m over nostalgic, and that I should move with the times. I say, “If it ain’t broke… ”

Mortal Clay

This new genesis feels like a mash-up of Matt Hagen’s Clayface origin, from Batman: The Animated Series, combined with Basil Karlo’s from the comics. Sadly, the end result just loses the integrity of both. Again, just my opinion.
I am also a huge fan of Scott Snyder’s work on Batman, but feel that “Zero Year” was also a completely unnecessary reboot of Batman’s origin. Other people have already told these stories, and to my mind, told them better.
I hope that “Clay” and “Zero Year” are satisfying to new readers, because – as of right now – they’re canon and the official origins of Batman and Clayface. Personally I’ll stick with “Batman: Year One” and “The Mud Pack” as the definitive beginnings of these timeless characters.
I’ve always found that origin stories that add to what’s already been established, but in a modern manner, are the kind that I enjoy. Origins that basically erase what came before, in my view, are disrespectful to the work of some great storytellers. Just because you can rewrite a character’s history, it doesn’t mean that you should.
On the plus side, the pace, dialogue and emotions of the story are very well written.

Art, For Art’s Sake

There is one aspect of this issue that I’m more than happy with; the gorgeous art of Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas. This book is a feast for the eyes!
I love when comics talents prove to be all-round artists. There are some out there that can milk an action scene for all its worth, but can’t draw life. Detective Comics has showcased some of the finest talents working in comics today. These are artists that can draw emotion, joy, pain, fear, fun, thrills and spills, muscles and mayhem. Carmen CarneroÁlvaro MartínezRaül Fernandez, Marcio Takara…
Eddy Barrows & Eber Ferreira.
Terrific.

Conclusion

This is a good comic. While the balance, in my opinion, is definitely in favor of the artists, it’s still a satisfying read. While Clayface’s story may have reached its climax, the repercussions of his impact on the Dark Knight will be felt for a long time to come.
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment
(This review was originally published on the Dark Knight News Website on February 2nd 2018)

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