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Review: Batman: The Dark Knight #1


Of the series that needed re-launching, this was low on the list. Batman: The Dark Knight, written by Paul Jenkins and illustrated/co-plotted by David Finch, released just five issues in the nearly one year it ran. What the heck, though? Fresh book, fresh outlook.

 

The issue opens with Batman piloting a jet over Gotham, contemplating fear and how we are the parents of our own fears. If we allow the fear to grow, it will. Better to face it and watch it shrink. All this is over a montage of Batman parachuting out to a roof, emerging from an apartment building as Bruce Wayne with a large duffel over his shoulder, and then grappling onto the balcony at a party.

 

It turns out the monologue was the speech he was giving to some sort of gala. He and a congressman discuss the Revitalize Gotham Plan before they are interrupted by Lieutenant Forbes of Internal Affairs. We're given another clue about the fact that Batman Inc. is still in continuity when Forbes begins to ask Bruce who on the inside of the GCPD was helping him with the logistics of financing Batman and his cronies.

 

They're interrupted by a leggy brunette, named Jaina Hudson, before the conversation goes any further. Bruce thanks her for breaking that up and they begin flirting shamelessly with each other, while divulging the information to the readers that her father was made a diplomatic attaché to Mumbai. She plays the tease and tells him to think about their conversation while she circulates with guests. As they part ways, he hopes they run into each other again, and she tells him to try to catch her.

 

Bruce glad-hands a few more people before checking his watch and leaving the party. Alfred awaits him and asks if there's trouble. Bruce tells him he has no doubt Alfred's mind is alive with the possibilities.

 

We switch to a scene just out side of Arkham Asylum. A guard is screaming at the someone on the other end of the communicator that there are fire alarms going off across the building, they've pulled back from the west wing, and there's no answer from anyone in the pen. An explosion sounds out and the inmates swarm out, attacking and killing the guards who were waiting.

 

Just outside the gates, there's another squad of men waiting, fending off cameras and demanding answers from control. He says they've got 65 good men in there and he's not waiting for permission. The permission comes in the form of the 300 inmates breaking out of the front door.

 

Batman appears on the top of the car, telling the guard in charge that he'll take answers later, but they should go in and try to give the men trapped inside a fighting chance. Assessing the escaping inmates with one glance, Batman immediately asks where Two-Face is. According to one guard, he was in the ward but didn't rush out with the others. Batman brings three guards in to go find him.

 

They fight their way in and almost end up shooting a woman dressed as a bunny. She scampers off and Batman wonders if she's trying to spring Dent by causing a distraction. He calls out to her to come out with her hands where they can see them. He demands that Two-Face show himself. A coin comes flying out of an exploding room, and lands scarred-side up.

 

Emerging from the room, a hulked-out Harvey Dent appears and says he's Two-Face no longer, and Batman can call him One-Face.

 

I said at the start of this, fresh book, fresh outlook. This book had me cheering for it, because I genuinely like David Finch's art. Unfortunately, they went right for the girl love interest angle. I liked the idea of Bruce Wayne being accosted by Internal Affairs, even though I doubt it would happen at a gala like that. I even enjoyed seeing the scenes with Bruce Wayne interacting with guests at the party, because we rarely get to see Bruce.

 

Paul Jenkins really has captured Bruce Wayne's voice, though I think he needs to work a little on Batman. For example, when seeing the escaping convicts, it seems to me he would've called on members of the Bat-Family to come help him detain the escapees, rather than taking three guards and going into the facility to try to find the one who hasn't come out.

 

I'm having difficulty with some of the other plotting elements. I don't really think Bruce Wayne would've grappled up to a balcony, and I really don't understand why Two-Face, a complex and disturbing villain in his own right, would be hulked up.

 

David Finch's art really is something to see. I do love to see this book in my file, if only for that. His scenes for the Arkham breakout were some of the better ones in the book. I may not understand the scene, but I can't deny his version of Two-Face on steroids had amazing attention to detail and shocked me the first time I read the story through.

 

Because of the love-interest angle, and some of the more nonsensical plot elements, I'm rating this book lower than I would have otherwise.

 

Batman: The Dark Knight #2:

 

 

Reviewed by Melinda Hinman

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