After months of delays on this series, it's odd to get the fourth issue only two weeks after getting the third issue. Maybe some of my irritation has subsided, maybe I feel like some of the loose threads are starting to come together, maybe I've just had a better lunch. Whatever the reason, this issue angers me a lot less than issue three did.
We open with the mystery thief coming home to find her father being shaken down by mob thugs for money he owes them. Though he claims to have no access to Wayne Industry secrets, the thugs don't believe him and inform him they will kill him and his whole family if he doesn't come through.
The girl sneaks into basement, which has schematics of the Batmobile on the wall. As she reaches into her backpack, she realizes she left something important in the Batmobile. Throwing her backpack against the wall, she tells her father she's fine and she'll go to bed in five minutes.
In the sewers, Etrigan continues to hunt the possessed version of Ragman. Jumping out of the water, Ragman tells Etrigan they are far too powerful for him now.
Leaving that story alone for a few minutes, we join Dawn and Batman in the Batmobile. He tries to reassure her that she's safe now, but she says "he'll" find her. That's when we get her back story. According to Dawn, her father was an occultist who said her soul belonged to a greater cause. She claims the rituals continued until her father began to die. He called her to his bedside and attempted to kill her so he could become Hell's Lord on earth. She ran and never looked back. When Batman tries to tell her that he's dead, she says she thought he was, too.
At the GCPD Headquarters, Gordon returns to the office, fuming about Lt. Forbes. One of the officers tells Gordon that Forbes is waiting for him in Gordon's office. Inside, Gordon finds him quite at home, making personal calls from his office. Forbes takes malicious pleasure in telling Gordon that he's the new commissioner, and that Gordon has been under investigation for a long time regarding street-grade Venom. To add insult to injury, he claims he knows Batman is in on it.
Back in the Batmobile, Batman tells Dawn to get ready to be taken to the police headquarters, where she'll have to also be ready to talk to the press. She begs Batman to protect her, knowing that once it gets out she's alive, her father will come to kill her.
In the sewers, Etrigan and Ragman duke it out, with Ragman taunting that Etrigan doesn't have any of his former strength. Etrigan finally rips Ragman open to see who he has backing him up. A ring of fire surrounds them both as Blaze comes out of Ragman. She asks him to return to her, and she promises to restore him to his power. Etrigan agrees at once, despite Jason Blood's protest from inside. She tells him it is time, and nothing will stand in their way again.
At Dawn Golden's apartment, she tells Batman to take her away. The place feels like it was owned by someone else. She explains how it was she came to be kidnapped. After a night of drinking and dancing, she told her driver to take her home, only to find that her driver had been replaced by Ragman. He claimed he was there to take her soul.
When she managed to get away from what she assumed was her father, Croc kidnapped her and she let it happen because anything was better than the fate she had waiting for her.
She and Batman stand on the balcony and he tells her that whatever happens, they're going to face it together and end it, as demons scale the walls. Up next: the final battle.
I'm a little confused on whether this is supposed to have five parts or six, as part five is solicited as the penultimate issue. Either way, I'm happy to have this story advance a little bit further. We found out a bit more about Ragman's involvement, we know now why Etrigan is here, we even know about the amulet. The addition of a co-artist confuses me also, because David Finch was hired as an artist. Maybe DC is just letting him flex his writing muscles in this? I don't know.
As sad as I am to say this, I'll be happy to see this arc end. It's a shame, because the art has been consistently good, the plotting is mostly solid, but the wait just doesn't work for me because I don't think any of the issues have justified it.
Batman: The Dark Knight #4:
Reviewed by Melinda Hinman