Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Batman: The Dark Knight - Mad (comics)
Artists: Ethan Van Sciver, Szymon Kudranski
Collects: Batman: The Dark Knight #16-21, Annual #1
Three volumes in and The Dark Knight seems to be settling in to its own niche as the "villain origin" book. Last volume, the debut of Gregg Hurwitz as the new ongoing writer, focused on the Scarecrow. It was decent, but not something I was in a rush to review; if I had, the vast majority of it would have focused on the fact that Batman hooked himself up to a device on the Batplane and bled all over the city to cure Scarecrows latest toxin, because reasons.
Perhaps the most "important" development of this comic has been the introduction of a new love interest for Batman. We almost immediately dropped into familiar territory with that one, with Bruce almost immediately feeling she's "the one". Also familiar is his desire to share his secret identity with her, as well as the desire to retire from crime fighting to foster said relationship.
Do I even need to tell you where this is going? If you answer "they fridged her", well, of course they did. Barring the animated Phantasm movie that kind of development never goes in any other direction. Which leads you to wonder what the point is. Creating a love interest only to kill her off in a short span of time, said event accomplishing nothing, really.
That's really the problem here; familiarity is the death of this volume. It's a Mad Hatter story and it's the exact Mad Hatter story you're thinking of. You know the one. He concocts a Wonderland for his Alice - an unrequited crush from the past - and then attempts to kidnap her. I suppose I understand the desire - Batman: The Animated Series nailed it on the first try, but the comics never really translated it into a "definitive" story - but it adds to that derivative feeling.
One thing I do enjoy regarding Hurwitz approach is his use of flashback. We cut to them fairly often, each one showing the past events that led the villain to their current state. It started last volume with the Scarecrow story and continues here. It's an obvious pattern, but it does allow us to get into the things that made them who they are a little better.
I'm hoping they lay off the childhood trauma bit, though. I can appreciate it in certain characters, but at times it feels like all writers think a villain needs a sympathetic connection to the reader stemming from some form of abuse. While that's a very true to life scenario, it's getting to the point of over-saturation. Sometimes, a villain should just be left as an evil dickbag.
Oh, there's an annual too. It focuses on a few of the rogues this series has handled thus far getting themselves trapped in an old, abandoned asylum for crazy kids and scaring themselves senseless out of fear that it's a trap set by Batman. In an amusing twist, they're at least half right.
The art is by Ethan Van Sciver. I hear he's popular with some folks. His work here is clean and fairly expressive. There's not a lot to talk about. Szymon Kurdanski handles the annual and one issue of the arc. His ark is murkier than Van Scivers. This helps sometimes, especially given the tone of the annual, but on the downside it leads to a few instances of unclear storytelling within his issues.
Overall, I wouldn't say this is a bad volume. There are parts of it I enjoyed. It's just derivative. There are worse things to be. It would be nice if we could get past that whole "create a female character for the sake of killing" deal though.
My Opinion: Try It
Overall, there are some scattered scenes I enjoyed