When I write any of my reviews I shy away from other reviews just because I like to review the books with my own two sense. But with Detective Comics #868 I couldn’t help but read other reviews, not in anticipation and excitement but to see if it was worth the money and to see if it was as bad as issue #867. So I read a review and from the outset it looked grim. But I picked it up anyways because it was on my pull list and because it’s a bat-book. So now, post-read through, I can only say I should have listened.
From the outset this issue was a bore and a garbled mess of unattractive art and sloppy storytelling. Whether it was the meandering of the characters or the uneventful “events” this issue starts off completely flat-lined and remains that way through the entirety. The story feels like it would be great if only Hine took the time to actually tell it, and while that may seem impossible, the beginnings of an actual story is there it is only when Hine tells it that it fails. It makes me wonder if this particular story was told by a different writer, if it would have turned out differently. But that’s not even the point, the story kills all of your emotions and interest before it even gets into the swing of things while relying on obvious signs that us fans are supposed to pick up and gush over, it is almost cheesy in it’s ignorant ways. But I can see where Hine wanted to take the story and sure there is some good material there but in the long run it not only doesn’t add up but in the end it is not somewhere I want to go.
So, with that said I will try to retell this story. We begin with the impostor Joker’s assaulting a cafeteria where they are interrupted by impostor Batmen who in turn shoot the impostor Joker’s with crossbows. We then see Commissioner Gordon and Batman on the roof of Gotham Central where Batman, after analyzing a blood sample taken from one of the impostor Joker’s, finds out that the Joker Juice has been modified and that this new Joker Juice contains steroids which would plunge the user into a roid rage, the scene ends with Gordon wondering why people would willingly do this so of course Dick needs to try it. Dick exposes himself to the Joker Juice and turns into an impostor Joker telling Alfred that he really wants to punch him in the face. Once Dick comes down from the high Alfred tells him that there is a new Joker video where the main impostor Joker tells all of his followers to steal from the rich and give to the poor by robbing banks and stores. This is immediately followed by a video by the main impostor Batman who posts up a video stating that you can either turn a blind eye and do nothing which would lead to anarchy or uphold the law and get a really big gun, the scene ends with Alfred stating that these impostors have struck a chord with the general public, splitting the population into two parts, people who follow the impostor batmen and the people who follow the impostor Jokers which would in turn cause a civil war within Gotham. In the next scene we are in Gotham Central where Gordon is briefing his team. He tells them to arrest any impostors whether it is an impostor Joker or an impostor Batman, and to use the rubber bullets and when an officer named Sherman says they’d be lambs to the slaughter he is told to use his side arm, which has live ammunition, if things get really bad. In the next scene we see the impostor Jokers passing out free money while the impostor Batmen plan their attack to stop the Jokers as the impostor Joker leader watches over everything. After a group of impostor Batmen capture a group of Jokers, the impostor Batman leader shows up, sets them free, and shoots them. The real Batman shows up and gives chase to the impostor Batman leader who leads the real Batman into a trap which Batman fights his way out of. The last scene shows a man named Winslow Heath (the impostor Joker leader from before) who after being saved by Batman is in turn saved by Bruce Wayne who pays all of his hospital bills which would allow him to be kept on life support. Now in the current day, Heath reveals that he is mass producing his Joker Juice with enough of a supply to dose every man, woman, and child in Gotham City.
So as you can tell it’s not very impressive or interesting, it rides it’s own horridness all the way down to the end, and by the end you don’t care about the impostor's, Winslow Heath, or even Batman. All the characters are generic and unoriginal while the cheesy Bat-Fan drops are insufferable. Obviously Hine took more than a couple of cues from the Batman movies particularly The Dark Knight. I mean come on, a fat Batman impostor? Winslow Heath? And the Jokerz throwing green paint on fine art which is from, of course, the 1989 Batman film. I personally found these all in bad taste. Sure I can see why this was done, but to do it so horribly is what makes it just cheesy. But the bottom line is that you cant help but realize how boring and plain this issue is, I was really uninterested and bored out of my mind, I think that when an ad for Batman sneakers (when I Don’t even need new shoes) is more interesting and compelling than the actual book something is definitely wrong here.
Overall this book overtly fails to hit its mark and to think that this story arc still has two more issues get’s me sick to my stomach.
Detective Comics #868:
Reviewed by Dane