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Forever Evil Event: Batman: The Dark Knight 23.3 (Clayface)

Batman The Dark Knight 23.3

Batman: The Dark Knight 23.3
Special “Villains Month” Title: Clayface 1
John Layman, Cliff Richards

Forever Evil Crossover

Spoiler alert! You have been warned!


The Batman: The Dark Knight tie-in (more accurately, a Detective Comics tie-in) to Villains Month and Forever Evil showed me yet again that I’m still not a John Layman fan. At all. He’s not very good at characterization, which is the entire basis of not only writing Batman characters, but superhero comics in general. The characters sell themselves, true, but there’s a difference between writing a book that gets people to buy more books and writing a book that gets people to buy other books. This writer has been producing a lot of the latter ever since he took over head writing duties on Detective Comics almost a year ago.

The story is simple, much like Clayface. I can respect that. And the Cliff Richards artwork is great, so it’s not a total loss. But the fact that Clayface’s origin is shown, rather than told, is completely unnecessary. We don’t need to see it again. He’s got a temper. He’s dumb. And he doesn’t like being called dumb. We get it. So when he’s not invited to join the Secret Society, because he’s dumb, he gets mad and tries to win them over by crushing the resistance. I called bullshit (actually did this aloud, in all my nerd-rage glory) when it was revealed that the Society actually planned this and knew he would break up the resistance, which they set up, and they did it just so they could… Call him dumb? I know this is probably a little harsh, but really, Layman? That’s the story you want to tell in a high profile gimmick month? I’m sorry, but shut the f*ck up.

Villains Month

Save the buck and buy the regular cover. Or just buy another book entirely and accept that this one is nothing more than a poorly-paced characterization-fail of a filler issue by a writer who should not be in charge of such important and iconic characters. Sorry, Layman. You need to go.


My Rating: 1.5/5

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Comments (41)

"it was revealed that the Society actually planned this and knew he would break up the resistance, which they set up, and they did it just so they could"

You need to work on your reading comprehension, Jeff. The Secret Society organized a fake resistance in order to draw in rebels –other resistors– in order to destroy them. Their plan had nothing to do with Clayface, and calling him dumb stemmed from his interference and destruction of their plan.

I'll "shut the f*ck up" now.

From Clayface's caption: "It was supposed to serve as a trap, they told me, to draw in and expose any rogue superheroes."

It's always a little vexing when a review slags your book, when it's clear they don't even understand what was clearly presented for them.


It has become apparent on Twitter as well as the site that you have taken great offense to my review. I apologize for not thinking that this was your best effort, but to be completely honest with you, your script was all over the place. I read it twice (and even went back and gave it a third shot, upon your insistence via social media) and still found it completely lacking. My oversimplification of your asinine plot (which I will gladly amend to whatever you want it to be) still changes nothing about what I said in my review highlights or my tweets to you: It's a terrible script full of tired cliches. The fact that you continue to argue with a critic and lifelong fan who has continued to buy your books on a regular basis shows that you obviously have a lot of free time on your hands. Can I suggest focusing said time on actually writing a quality book that is worthy of my 3.99 each and every month instead of calling out those who may disagree with you?


It was my "understanding" that you were done talking. Guess I need to read your first comment three times as well.

So, when it's pointed out you misunderstood the climax of the book, ignoring or overlooking a caption that clearly explained it, instead of admitting you are in error, you double down with more insulting "criticism," criticism that somehow you didn't have in your original review.

You're a lousy, cowardly, chickenshit reviewer, Jeff.

Name calling, really? How adult like. I think someone needs some time in the corner. Grow up not everyone likes you its called LIFE. Get one.

Just wondered if you had the journalistic integrity to own up to your own errors. Clearly you don't.

That makes you pretty solidly a piece of crap reviewer in my book.

I don't know John Layman personally, have no vested interest in him or his work.

I read it. I liked it. When I read it, I interpreted it the way that John says he wrote it. Seemed simple enough to me.

Jeff is solidly an awesome reviewer, stand up guy, and one of the very best folks I've ever worked with. John, you seem real mad dude. It'll be ok man. You'll get over it. Or you won't. Either way, i'll be sure to include all your books in our buy it/don't buy it series moving forward, and offer you fair and honest reviews. Cheers.

Oh wow didn't notice this.

I'm going to say that both of you are in the wrong and the right.

1. Criticism of anything is justifiable and any writer worth his/her salt is able to take said criticism and improve from it. Getting angry about a negative review is pointless when what should be done is that you should be able to look critically at your own work and see what works and what didn't. I do it all the time. You can't have a giant ego as a writer, otherwise you'll never improve. Let me just say that I've been loving Chew and liking Detective, but even I see there's things that can be improved upon. Mr. Layman sir, it just makes you look like a worse person if you can't handle negativity. Also, insulting writers who buy your work is a grade-a jackass thing to do.

2. Jeff, egging on an industry professional and coming damn near closing to insulting him almost invalidates your journalistic credibility. Writers/Reporters are expected to follow a certain code of ethics and to be respectful to the people who work in industries like music or comics or movies. That being said, I feel like both of you are acting childish and having a pissing contest over nothing. It's a review, what's done is done. Both of you should own up to your mistakes and be professionals.

Julien, let me reiterate that my complaint is not over a negative review. I actually invite, encourage and enjoy negative reviews. My complaint is against an INCORRECT review. I can handle negativity. I LOVE negativity. But it a "reviewer"'s basis of a negative review hinges on a plot point he is too fucking lazy or dumb to understand, it is absolutely within my right to correct.

A more honorable reviewer would admit to his failings as a reader. Be negative all you want. But get your fucking shit straight. And own up to it when you don't.

Nice review Jeff, shows how much you lack comprehension skills and a total hack objectivity when it comes to writing reviews. It's obvious you have an extreme bias against Layman so you are the last person to be writing a review of his work. No where in your three little poorly written paragraph "review" did you actual come up with a constructive criticism or an objective thought. Here's what you wrote, "LAYMAN SUCKS! ARRRRRRRGH!!! GET OFF THE FUCKING BOOK! ARRRRGH LAYMAN IS SUCK!!!!" But, I'm not surprised, you gave that shitty Lobo book a 3 and you actually thought the first issue of Forever Evil was worth a 5. That book was, at the most a 2.5.

Jeff Hill you're an idiot. You say he isn't selling books? FYI sales are up on Detective. If your going to write a review or critique something please go to school and learn how too. Your review is petty and fails a basic reading comprehension test. By hte way who are you writing for? Layman writing for DC and has a book that was optioned. You? <crickets>

Approve people's comments. This is a comments thread correct? Or are you too sensitive to have your piece of junk "critique" reviewed?

So why has my comment never been approved?


I agree. I apologize for my comments and respectfully remove myself from the situation. I also would like to apologize for my heated responses. There will be no further comment from me on the matter and I wish Mr. Layman the best. Thank you for your rational and well-thought-out comment, Julien.


I'm glad you liked it. It just didn't work for me. But I am but one man, so just take it for what it is: One man's response to a piece meant for millions. Thanks for your comment!


As I stated in Julien's comment above, I consider this matter dropped. I appreciate your vigor when defending your work and apologize for any offense you may have taken on my words. Now please, if you would kindly do so, stop attacking and harassing me publicly and privately on Twitter and Facebook. Let's just agree to move on and leave one another alone. I highly doubt my comments affect you in any way shape or form and I know that yours hold the same weight with me. Have a good day, Mr. Layman.


Glad you took the time to read my other reviews before simply commenting on the one. It sounds like we are just completely different in terms of tastes. But that's the wonderful part of their being 52 DC Comics. We can pick and choose. Thanks for your comment!


It is my opinion that, on a book like Detective Comics, the character sells the book regardless of the perceived quality. I am a perfect example of that, buying the book for almost a year whilst not enjoying it. I've done my best to not review Mr. Layman's work, knowing that just because it is my opinion, it does not necessarily mean that someone else doesn't love the guy's work. I'm glad you do. I, on the other hand, do not. But that is not the issue. The issue presented itself when my (admittedly) short review touched on only what was disliked, rather than pairing it with what I did like. I apologize for my negativity, but I will not apologize for voicing my opinion. I do not claim to be a comic book writer, but last time I checked, I am a paying fan and am entitled to my thoughts regarding where my hard-earned cash goes. Thank you for your comment and I hope that you have a good day.


Sometimes the comments don't get approved right away. We do so when we see them pending, but we are a small staff and only check it about once per day. As of right now, I can assure you that all "pending" comments have been approved and are live on the site. I am not afraid of hearing honest thoughts that encourage discourse. I welcome them. Thanks for your comment and feel free to voice your opinion whenever and however you wish to do so. You're more than welcome to chat with all of us on our reviews, editorials, or columns.


Just approved. Sorry for the delay!

Jeff, I could care less about the negativity of your reviews, and your attacks, founded or unfounded. As I have said, time and time again, what I object to is the fact YOU GOT THE ENDING COMPLETELY WRONG. I've yet to hear any admission of that, that you attacked me for something that YOU MISREAD AND MISUNDERSTOOD. Feel free to clarify that, or apologize for that, and then we can move on.

" I called bullshit (actually did this aloud, in all my nerd-rage glory) when it was revealed that the Society actually planned this and knew he would break up the resistance, which they set up, and they did it just so they could… Call him dumb?"



Also Jeff you probably shouldn't tell someone to shut the fuck up in a review. That's not a review that's a personal attack and extremely unprofessional. Not saying that you're a professional but if you want to be taken seriously that's not the way. Go to to see how far off your review is from everyone else. Also the fact that a review like this is even allowed on that site is pretty shocking in and of itself.

the way I personally see it… everyon'es intitled to their own opinions. Jeff may have been a little too sarcastic but I think he hit the nail on the head. layman sucks. and now the whole internet knows he's not a very nice person as well. My two cents.

Johns a terrible writer. Needed to be said. Kudos to having the balls to not only say your piece, but defend yourself when he attacked you, Jeff. Keep 'em coming. Will you be reviewing Detective from now on? I sure hope so. This guys a tool and reviews like this make "comic journalism" seem a little bit more legit. LOL.

ur both idiots. jeff – don't waste your time fighting bad writers. john – don't waste your time fighting, well, anyone. it makes you a laughing stock. you both look like fools when you argue in a comments section. do it privately like gentlemen. just my honest opinion.

The Phantom Stranger

Oh, wow. Haven't read the issue in question yet, but man, is this awkward.

I agree that you would expect an author not to lower himself to namecalling in a comments section – but then again, Jeff started the insults and apparently added more after John called him out on his mistake in still a rather friendly manner. I don't know why we always expect persons of public interests to be saints and to not have a temper or anything. Sure, they are in the spotlight, but they are also human and certainly don't appreciate insults. I defended Scott Lobdell when he made fun of haters on Comicvine and I will defend John Layman here as well.

So, yeah, I'm with Layman on this one. Also, Jeff Hill does shit like this a lot on this site. Have you ever read any of his Gail Simone reviews? I used to find his take refreshing, because I actually believe Simone to be rather overrated, but Jeff really crosses a line with his angry "Fuck yourself and die, writer, I hope you get fired"-routine.

Be insightful, be smart, be snarky and be negative. That would all be cool. But as long as this unprofessional conduct continues and insults are being slung around, John is totally entitled to defending himself and to point out that you did not at all understand his story. I realise that total objectivity is maybe impossible, but the way Jeff Hill does his thing here is just a joke.

Jeff is entitled to his opinion. Reviews are primarily opinion, after all. All I EVER asked was he correct the mistake he made. He posted a single story point, in an review of otherwise blistering negative opinion. If he is calling for me to quit or be fired, surely he has a responsibility to get the non-opinion parts of his review factually correct. And, if he does not, he has an obligation to run a correction.

Jeff's refusal to do so makes him an absolute pile of rotten dog shit in my opinion.

Feel free to get mad that a creator is standing up and calling for a bit of journalistic responsibility. But keep in mind Jeff started it. And I have admitted all along he is entitled to his OPINIONS. He can say whatever nasty thing about me he wants. But he is not entitled to make up his own facts.

I'd also add that the editor/editors are every bit as remiss, not correcting something that wrong, when one of their writers is to craven or unethical to own up to their own responsibilities.

The Twiobo book got a 3? I would have given it a -50. That book was disgustingly bad. An offense to the character and the fans. Sadly, I had to preorder mine so I'm actually going to own it but I haven't decided if it's actually going to go in my collection yet. If it does it certainly won't be anywhere near the LOBO books I own (which is all of them)

"when it was revealed that the Society actually planned this and knew he would break up the resistance, which they set up, and they did it just so they could… Call him dumb?" To be fair this is the line as it ended. See, if you put the ending on it it actually makes sense.


There is no mistake to correct. Jeff never set out to write a panel for panel recap, or overly detailed retelling of the plot. The exact intentions of the Secret Society, no matter how anyone sees them, are irrelevant, as Jeff's overall conclusion here is that all the book accomplishes is calling Clayface dumb. If his interpretation changes, he will gladly be welcome to make changes to his article, but as it stands there will be no alteration.

Another, more mature, way of looking at it is 'if this guy didn't "understand" the ending maybe others had a hard time getting it as well.'
Then you take the time to work it into your regular Batman story, unless this is another of those events where everything is 'put back to normal' at the end and it's never mentioned again (I hate those).
But, seriously, to come out like you own the place and start by misquoting the review then continue to rant on like this doesn't help your side of the… discussion. Why not come from it like "Okay, Hill, let's discuss this because it's seems as if you missed some points here." Be more conservative with your words and open a dialogue.
Reviews are opinions and should be treated as such. There are times when people disagree with mine because I happen to love Superior Spider-Man but it never reaches this level of vitriol. I understand you feel slighted but, dude, this sort of knee jerk reaction doesn't really help.

At least the full line is quoted here. But, Layman, you really dropped the ball on this one. You think he got the ending 'completely wrong' but rather than open a dialogue and discuss the matter, and perhaps bring a detractor over to your side, you decide to take the traditional stance of 'he disagrees with me, I need to launch a full scale personal assault' and then you take it beyond this site, you start posting all kinds of stuff on your Twitter (the only reason to do so is to get your loyal fans riled up by seeing this only through your perspective knowing they would likely come here and rally a defense on your behalf).
Opening a dialogue would have been far more constructive and productive. Sometimes you write something that gets wide praise like Chew, sometimes you write something that just.. average.
This is a situation that got out of hand real fast. And for no valid reason.


Not everyone who writes reviews is going to agree. I read books that are 'praised' by the masses and I end up not liking them in the least. Example: The Watchmen bored me to tears and any entertainment value in it was destroyed by the heavy handed allegories in the story. Most everyone liked it but I didn't.


You should take a cue from Dan Slott who has gotten far worse and for far longer than you have on this one single issue. Slott has gotten death threats because of his work on Amazing and Superior Spider-Man. He takes it all in stride. The man knows he has fans who love his work and will stand by him and has never once, as far as I've seen, taken to reacting in the way you have. He has fun with it, keeps the mood as light as he can.
Hill 'misunderstood' a plot point in your story, he took it the way he took it and that is where his review comes from. He didn't take it, apparently, the way you intended so you take the moment and try to get him to see it how you wanted readers to see it. It's fine that you dislike what he thinks about your book but to come out swinging like this doesn't do you any favors.
But you understand that reviews are only opinions, there are many who don't get that, but to call him out like this because he didn't get a point your were trying to make is just silly if you really think about it.
But it did remind me that I may have missed a Chew trade….I need to look into that.

assuming this is just layman…? lol

jeez dude. watch your mouth. you are such a joke.

you're such a tool.

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