Overview: In Batman: One Dark Knight #2, Gotham’s various gangs close in on Batman and E.M.P. Meanwhile, Brody searches for his father, and Vasquez is scheming.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): As Batman: One Dark Knight #2 begins, Batman is making progress in the dark of Gotham City. With a prone E.M.P. slung over his shoulder, Batman has moved within 3.8 miles of their destination, Blackgate Prison. Multiple Gotham gangs are closing in, and Batman is forced to engage. On East Broadway, Vasquez and Gordon look at a massive car pileup that has Montoya somewhere inside. Gordon tells Vasquez to extricate Montoya and rushes off. As a gang approaches, Vasquez locates an injured Montoya who reports that she cannot feels her legs. Montoya begs Vasquez for help. Vasquez walks away.
She makes her way to Coventry where she tells some officers that she cannot locate Montoya. She enters an apartment building, knocks on Oscar’s door, and asks for Brody’s whereabouts. They realize that he is gone.
Batman realizes that he needs to get back up on the top of Gotham to avoid the gangs. On the elevated train tracks, E.M.P. reanimates. He expresses remorse for what happened five years ago and pleads with Batman to help him find Brody and explain what happened to Brody’s mother. He is overcome by grief and admits that Brody is his son and that he orphaned him through his responsibility for the death of Brody’s mother. He then informs Batman that the real reason for his transfer is connected to a survivor of the blast from five years ago. He begins to say “Vas-” but is cut off by a bullet through his shoulder. The gangs have located them. E.M.P. tumbles off the tracks and is dangling from Batman’s outstretched arm. Batman fights off multiple assailants but is eventually forced to drop E.M.P. and then catch him in mid-flight.
Three miles away from Blackgate, Batman marks more gangs moving in search of E.M.P., as well as some GCPD whose loyalty is unknown to him. They apparently report to Vasquez, who orders them to keep Gordon away, find friendly gangs, and takedown E.M.P.’s own gang, the Tazers.
Back in Coventry, Oscar is informed by a group that they have orders to mobilize to find E.M.P. These are the “Coventry Lowlifes” and Oscar reluctantly complies. Brody tracks them from the shadows. The Lowlifes are accosted in East Side territory, and Oscar is threatened at gunpoint. Brody rushes out to protect “Pops.” Oscar sees Brody and begins fighting with his assailant who gets the upper hand and aims his gun at Oscar. A Batarang stops the danger for the moment. The gangs rush off after Batman, leaving Oscar and Brody alone. Oscar begs Brody to go home.
On the elevated tracks, Batman is struggling a bit with the dead weight of E.M.P., and he is running low on weapons. He heads for the cover of the industrial zone, after which he’ll only be 1.2 miles from Blackgate.
Brody continues to follow Oscar. Vasquez finds him. She belittles him, terming him “useless” and “weak.” Brody’s eyes begin to glow red and an explosion occurs. Vasquez smiles and informs Brody that he is coming with her.
Batman sees the explosion but realizes that it is smaller and more localized. He struggles to make progress and reflects on how quickly Gotham is unraveling in the dark. He stumbles across the wrecked Batplane and tries to scavenge for supplies but is driven back by a gang member with a stun gun. Batman dispatches the gang member easily but realizes he’s walked into an ambush. There are too many assailants and too many guns, and he loses E.M.P. to the Tazers, who disappear their unconscious leader down a manhole.
Batman hides in the shadows while a rival gang appears on top of the buildings and begins firing on the Tazers gathered below. In the chaos, Batman swoops down the manhole in pursuit of E.M.P. He notes that it is very dark under the streets, and he is pleased.
Analysis: Batman: One Dark Knight #2, in this three-part miniseries, does not quite capture the explosiveness of the first, but it is a solid middle installment. The dynamism and movement of the narrative are palpable, especially since the task is set at the end of the first book: Get E.M.P. to Blackgate!
There’s a bit of a video game feel to the book in the sense that Batman must move through a darkened maze of Gotham while pursued by a variety of somewhat nameless Gotham gangs. While I do not generally love that approach, it works well enough here and keeps the basic narrative logical and easy to follow. Everything important happens on-panel and there’s never any discordance in the pacing.
Some of the unknowns from the first book begin to be answered in the second, as they should for a three-part series. I really love the three-part format and think it gives great opportunities for the writers to tell a story compactly yet completely (take note, Batman: Urban Legends – get rid of the six-part stories!). We get confirmation that Edward M. Pressler is not evil incarnate; he feels profound remorse for what he has done (although apparently, this remorse has not prevented him from forming and leading a gang). Brody is in fact his son, and Batman seems to want to help Pressler and to protect him more than to take him down; of course, it helps that the best means of protection is apparently installing him in Blackgate.
The notion that Vasquez is corrupt and that she has a history with E.M.P. is also interesting if not altogether shocking, and the remaining question of her plans for Brody obviously represents a key point for resolution in the final book.
While at times the story feels a bit like a Gotham gangland narrative, there is no question that the art is where the book really shines. Jock’s use of gray and black tones shows off the best in his style and contrasts elegantly with the flashes of light and color that Jock uses. We are lulled into a sense of quiet and stillness until firearms and incendiaries go off, and Batman is alight in evasion. This need for some color is perhaps why Jock chose the blue-and-yellow Batsuit: We can now track our hero in the darkness of unelectrified Gotham.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.