Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance was written by Brian Azzarello, with art by Eduardo Risso. Falling under the Flashpoint banner has some heavy implications within the last week. Originally when the mini-series and one-shots were announced, it was with the idea that most things under the Flashpoint banner could be considered and Elseworlds/What-If tale. Now, we're to understand that it's going to have long-term consequences within the DCU.
The issue opens with Thomas Wayne, sitting across from a psychiatrist, trying to prove to her that he's insurable. She certifies him after telling him he's argumentative. As he leaves, Oswald Cobblepot, Wayne's right-hand man, asks if the gambling commission is going to renew his license. Thomas confirms that they are by mumbling "mmmrrr", something we see a lot of in this issue.
Cobblepot goes over last night's take and the security footage. When Wayne sees that Maroni's kids were in again, he tells Cobblepot not to cut them off just yet. He reminds Cobblepot the reason for opening the casinos was to bring crime to him, and to fund the control of it.
Jim Gordon arrives, stealing Wayne away in a black stretch limousine. They're off to Harvey's house, because his twins have been kidnapped by the Joker. Gordon and Wayne talk about the uselessness of Arkham, and it bleeds into the conversation with Harvey Dent, now Judge Dent. While they try to tell him Joker belongs in Arkham because he's insane, Dent responds by telling him Hush, Scarecrow and Ivy were insane, but now they're dead. Jim responds quickly that Gotham Security had nothing to do with that. Harvey points out that it was Batman.
It's quickly explained that Gordon sold the city on privatizing the police force as a more effective way of deterring crime. Wayne points out that Chief Gordon and Gotham Security have done that. Gilda Dent turns to them finally and reminds them her babies are in the hands of a child killer.
Wayne promises to bring them back alive, gives his word. Dent gives his word that if he doesn't, he'll personally shut down Gotham Security, Wayne's hotels, and Wayne Casinos.
On a rooftop, overlooking Gotham, Gordon and Wayne exchange words about what a bad place the world is. They begin to head down the building, into an underground bunker, as Gordon explains they don't have anything concrete on the Joker, but they have heard of some soup kitchen regulars going missing and claiming the devil grabbed them and took them to hell.
Wayne suits up and departs as Batman to do his own investigation in the sewers beneath Gotham. His first find is a piece of human bone, and he follows a voice saying "hell." He follows the voice through the murky water, unaware or simply not acknowledging he's being watched by a reptilian creature from the water. He arrives at a barricaded door and opens it to find what we assume are the missing people, who are in turn missing various body parts.
The reptile creature appears behind Batman and attacks him with a machete. Batman defends himself with the bar that was blocking the door. As the reptile gains the advantage and starts to drown Batman, he flashes back to that pivotal scene in his life, with a string of pearls falling to the ground and two shots ringing through the night as he attempted to take the mugger down.
Batman fights his way back up and digs his thumb into the eye socket of the creature. Gaining the final advantage necessary to dig the machete into the reptiles skull, taking him down once and for all. He kneels next to the fallen villain as see another narrator take over.
The new narrator tells an unseen audience the world is a bad place, and that is why they play games. The big reveal on the next page is the Joker, speaking to the Dent twins, telling them they're going to play house. Since there's three of them, one can be the mommy, one can be the daddy, one can be the baby, and then he'll show up.
I find the parallel universe we seem to be in quite fascinating. Thomas Wayne seems to have become an inarticulate man and as a reader, I'm not quite sure how private his civilian identity is. Does he operate in a partnership with Gotham Security that allows them to wash their hands of particularly bad criminals because this Batman kills? Does this Batman kill because he saw his son murdered instead of his father and somehow feels that is a greater injustice?
Either way, I do think the writing in this is a little heavy, and the issue almost plodded a little, just because Gordon and Wayne were having the same conversation in three different locales. It felt a little like they were trying to draw out the issue to fill it. I hope that trend doesn't extend to the rest of the books.
The art was not something that bowled me over. Best drawn scene either goes to the second page of sewer exploration or the reveal with the Joker. With the exception of the cover to Brian Azzarello's "Joker", I have never seen a Joker that terrified me more.
Flashpoint: Batman-Knight of Vengeance #1:
Reviewed by Melinda Hinman