New 52 Review: Batman: The Dark Knight #1

The fourth Batman book in the New 52 is a cool story, but it does little to set itself apart from the pack.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Batman: The Dark Knight #1

Of all the titles rebooted by DC, Batman: The Dark Knight seemed the most curious choice. The original series took months to eke out five issues and nobody seemed to pay much attention. The only thing Batman: The Dark Knight had going for it preboot was that it gave a vehicle to Bruce Wayne alone. At that point, Dick Grayson dominated the Batman books. In the post reboot world, The Dark Knight series seems really out of place. Batman is now about Bruce Wayne in the modern age, Detective Comics is about Bruce when he began. Batman & Robin is about Bruce and his relationship with Damian, etc. The Dark Knight feels like DC padding the bill and trying to wrestle out a few more bucks out of fan’s pockets.

The book also does nothing to really set itself apart. Written by Paul Jenkins (Co-plotted by David Finch, whatever that actually means), Batman: The Dark Knight #1 is a cool story that makes zero impact on the character. The opening inner monologue where Batman talks about having to face his fear is interesting, especially when it turns out he means speaking in a public forum as Bruce Wayne, but that’s about it. From there, Bruce attends a gala function, then splits to help stop a break out at Arkham.  The final shot is Batman confronted by Two-Face who now claims he’s One-Face and also looks ridiculously huge. I guess to jazz up the new Harvey Dent, DC decided to make him Hulk size with his original head. I have no idea if this is Harvey Dent on steroids or just the new ways he’s drawn.

A major problem I have is Jenkins’ attempt to inject intrigue into the story by introducing a hard ass Internal Affairs investigator who confronts Bruce Wayne at the gala about funding the Batman. Apparently, this guy wants Wayne to help him get Batman to disclose which top-cop he’s working with. The idea has no merit to it at all. First, no cop would confront Gotham city’s most powerful son at a fund raising gala. Second, how does any of this involve I.A. exactly? If a cop is turning to outside help, that’s not illegal, plus everybody knows that Batman and Jim Gordon are thick as thieves, why is the guy from Internal Affairs clueless? It’s an obvious plot hook with no sharp edge to catch us.

I suppose The Dark Knight could become an important part of the Batman legacy, but I doubt it. The series had its chance and David Finch blew it. He only really returns here for the art, which is glorious. Finch can draw and has a hell of a sense of movement and action. His style is uncluttered, so every panel has something specific to focus on. I love how Finch draws Batman and I would love for him to be drawing one of the other titles. Here, it seems like a waste of time. DC would have been smarter to add another Superman book or a new title altogether. Batman: The Dark Knight feels like an afterthought. If DC is hell bent on keeping it, then perhaps it can function like Legends Of The Dark Knight and tell Batman tales of old.