Well, well, well. It's come to this. Batman: The Dark Knight concludes with what is solicited as the penultimate issue. For those of in love with dictionaries, penultimate actually means "second to last." Don't be confused, this is the last issue of the arc. This is the last issue prior to the DC relaunch.
Unfortunately, it's still a pretty terrible issue. We open where we left off, with Dawn and Batman standing on her balcony, in the rain. Batman is trying to understand why he feels so protective of Dawn. Thankfully, David Finch seems to be ignoring the burning attraction Batman felt for her only two issues ago. We're given the slightly more plausible explanation that he's going to protect her because she's one of the few ties he still has to his parents. She was around when his parents were still alive.
Unfortunately, the tender moment is broken up when the demons begin flooding onto the balcony. They do their best to fight them off, with Dawn screaming at Batman that he promised he'd protect her. The world goes black and Batman wakes, prone on the floor, just in time to be attacked by Etrigan. It seems that Lady Blaze has granted Etrigan his powers back.
That's where we leave that scene as we pick up trail of Dawn. It seems she's been abducted by a cult, chanting in Latin. The translation given in a later speech bubble is pretty well dead on and, surprise surprise, it's Dawn's father in Ragman's skin. All the minions and Ragman are there for the sacrifice of Dawn so her father might live forever.
Back to Etrigan and Batman, they're fighting and Batman is trying to convince Etrigan that he's not the enemy. They run into Lady Blaze, who spurs Etrigan into action. Batman hits a nerve with Etrigan when he asks Etrigan where his rhyme is. Etrigan realizes Batman is right, and wonders why she hasn't given him back his rhyme. Lady Blaze decides Etrigan is weak, but Batman reminds her that around there, they make their own power.
Meanwhile, Dawn is still tied up and dealing with her father. He explains that he used Ragman as a conduit to this world, but he no longer needs him. Just before he strikes the dagger into Dawn's heart, Etrigan and Batman burst back in, rhymes a-blazin'. Dawn calls out for Batman but he's just a touch too late as she ends up with the dagger plunged into her chest.
Batman and Etrigan begin to fight off the lesser demons while Dawn's father taunts them. The taunts are shortlived because he ends up exploding and dying without any sort of real fight. We can only assume Etrigan's power somehow defeated him. Batman goes to Dawn and Etrigan tells him that her spirit is gone, but he should still know he saved her.
And tying up the final loose end, in the sloppiest knot possible, the young thief of the Batmobile tells the thug she doesn't have the plans to the Batmobile, but that she has a communications scrambler, so they can communicate without anyone being able to trace or crack it. After she is assured of her family's safety, she walks outside and Batman asks if they believed her and if she gave them the device. She says yes to both, and he ends it with the cliffhanging "Then they're about to get me."
So much to say about Batman: The Dark Knight, so little of it good. Yes, for me the biggest source of irritation was delays. Looking back on a series that I thought had a lot of promise in the first issue, I'm disappointed. Dawn Golden was a throwaway character who flip-flopped between love interest and reminder of childhood. Ragman is apparently easier to get into than a Motel 6. Etrigan was there. Killer Croc and Penguin were working for Dawn Golden's father. Batman might as well not have been in this story. And the Batmobile thief was clearly meant to tie into a longer story-arc.
The writing in this issue was so heavy-handed, I'm surprised I was able to lift it. We actually got the literary treat "Makes you cherish the golden dawn" in reference to the pounding rain outside.
The art on this book was done by Jay Fabok, and it was good. There were a few panels I really liked, but they were accompanied by such horrendous writing that I almost missed them. I disliked the Ragman story element, but I loved the way Fabok portrayed the possessed version in this book. Really, all I can say is that at least this issue came out on time.
Batman: The Dark Knight #5
Reviewed by Melinda Hinman