It’s a case of The Bats and the Furious as the Caped Crusader chases fleeing murder suspect Dillon Yates through the streets of Gotham. Souped-up vehicle vs Batmobile? No contest, Batman catches up without much trouble.
But something doesn’t add up.
Batman discovers who really killed the studio head and framed Yates… actor turned super-villain Basil Karlo, Clayface.
Writer Michael Grey sets up a satisfyingly solvable mystery but I don’t feel bad about giving up the reveal, as Clayface is right there on the cover. The opening car chase is well done, even though I hate the current Batmobile-as-tank design. A vehicle that does make me smile is a vacuum cleaner Bats sifts through… our hero is doing actual detective work rather than being fed instant answers from the Bat-computer.
And the climactic battle with Clayface is nicely choreographed by Grey, penciller Ryan Benjamin and inker Richard Friend. There’s real heft to those blows the menacingly massive Karlo delivers, while Benjamin gives us a great take on Frank Miller’s Dark Knight. Friend deserves extra credit for his finishes on the rippling Bat-cape. The only thing I’m not a fan of, visually, is the extremely dishevelled Jim Gordon – he looks like he’s had a makeover from Harvey Bullock.
The pages are coloured By Alex Sinclair, who brings a nice naturalism to proceedings, while Troy Peteri gives the lettering some welly.
The aforementioned cover is by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas and it has proper power.
After 80 years it’s difficult to come up with a genuinely new Batman story – even if it’s never happened, I feel I’ve seen Clayface frame a fellow thespian – but Bad Actors is a stylish take on a classic Clayface encounter, smart and enjoyable.