Review: Batman: The Dark Knight #1

Written by Paul Jenkins, Co-Plotted by Paul Jenkins and David Finch, Art by David Finch and Richard Friend, Cover by David Finch

Solicitation Info (from Previews): The Dark Knight struggles against a deadly – yet strangely familiar – foe in this phenomenal debut issue from superstar writer/artist David Finch (BRIGHTEST DAY, ACTION COMICS)! As a mysterious figure slinks through the halls of Arkham Asylum, Batman must fight his way through a gauntlet of psychos, and Bruce Wayne faces the unexpected legal ramifications of Batman Incorporated!

Bias: I don’t know what to make of this. My original thought was that I would hate Detective Comics and Batman: The Dark Knight (written by artists? Pass.) and love Batman. I thought Detective Comics was brilliant and Batman was okay. So where does that leave Batman: The Dark Knight? I’m really not sure, and I’m interested in finding out.

What I liked: Interestingly, it turns out this wasn’t written by David Finch – he only co-plotted the issue. It was written by Paul Jenkins, a writer who has proved himself on more than one occasion, and no less here. The artwork was beautiful and the story was interesting. It was a good, solid book.

What I disliked: More than anything, I think the failure of this book was in the editing. There were several key elements to the story that were strikingly similar to that of Batman #1 (which came out last week). To avoid spoilers, I’ll comment on those in the extended. Thankfully, it looks like where the story goes from here will definitely diverge, but these first issues were a problem.

Verdict: For the Batman books, I would rank this one third (behind Detective Comics at #1 and Batman at #2, but above Batman and Robin at #4). I’ll give it one more issue to distinguish itself.

As always, SPOILERS in comments, including my favorite scene, thoughts on what happened, and questions about what’s to come.

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One response to “Review: Batman: The Dark Knight #1

  1. Honestly, there wasn’t a “scene” that I enjoyed most. It was the details. I loved that it opened with him racing (first by jet and then across rooftops) to make it to a speaking function as Bruce Wayne – it gave you the feel that he was just returning from any of the countless appearances (something most comics ignore – focusing only on the events of their own title). I also enjoyed that Lieutenant Forbes of Internal Affairs is looking into police involvement (probably Commissioner Gordon, given that he specifically mentions “someone high up” in Gotham P.D.) in setting up Batman, Inc. Amusingly, Bruce could manage the logistics on his own, since he’s been doing it, but I.A. doesn’t know that – and we saw over in other Batman titles that the Mayor wants the police to target Batman for being a vigilante. So siccing I.A. on Gordon only fits all too well into the overall direction of the Bat-books.

    Still, for all that, we have a narration that turns out to be a speech being delivered by Bruce Wayne. This was done over in Batman #1, where the point of the speech was a new initiative by Wayne Enterprises. Because we’d already seen that, it felt like it was nothing more than Bruce tooting his own horn here.

    We also saw a break-out from Arkham Asylum, something else we saw in Batman #1. It felt too similar, and gave the impression that ideas for stories in Batman books are already running dry before the series even begin.

    (Warning: this paragraph goes into some of Daniel’s views on politics – feel free to skip to the next paragraph to avoid politics.) I also think it was a poor decision to include the whole “Bruce Wayne is a job creator!” bit. You have the potential to alienate some of your readers with this – my own thoughts upon reading his conversation with the congressman were: a billionaire who’s actually a job creator? If only that was the case in real life! Unfortunately, while I didn’t believe Bruce was realistic portrayed here, I did think the congressman was: a politician (and I include Republicans and Democrats in this description) jumping through hoops to kiss the billionaire’s ass. It took me out of the story, as I was reminded of the infuriating political climate in the country these days, rather than just reading an enjoyable Batman story… (If it was about the current political climate, I’d be okay with that, but it was only half a page long, and certainly not a focus on any other part of the story…)

    The story ended with a glimpse of a woman in a white bunny costume (someone previews indicate will be important to the story later) and a steroid abusing Two-Face smashing out of his cell. (I’m okay with the new look – though there are plenty of villains who can already fill that role, from Killer Croc to Amygdala to others, so why it needed to be Two-Face is odd – but I wasn’t impressed with the “You can call me One-Face now” bit. His scarred face is still only half scarred. Why would we call him One-Face now?) Hopefully this gets explained next issue…

    Anyway, the artwork was beautiful, and the story would’ve been exceptional were it not for the similarities to Batman #1 – I would’ve only complained about the politics and Two-Face/One-Face thing that might be explained next issue – so I’m hopeful that going forward, we’ll see a unique story…

    As for the mysterious, hooded woman from Flashpoint #5, she appeared on the far right of the top panel on page 21.

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