First, the good news: Paul Jenkins stepping on board “Batman: The Dark Knight” as a co-plotter and scripter is already an immense improvement to “Batman: The Dark Knight” (which ran for all of five issues before getting reset along with the rest of the titles at DC Comics last month). The bad news is that of the four books starring Batman, it’s unfortunately still the weakest.
To be fair, a lot of that has to do more with the strength of the other three books (“Batman,” “Detective Comics,” “Batman and Robin”), but it does illustrate a bit of a gulf between them and “Batman: The Dark Knight.” This title still feels slightly aimless, an excuse for David Finch to draw hot babes and bad guys rather than something with an instant, clear purpose.
This first issue feels like a bit of a montage of other comics: a speech by Bruce Wayne at a charitable function, a break-out attempt at Arkham Asylum, a surprise new status quo for a long-term Bat-villain. They’re all things we see increasingly often in the “Batman” line of titles, and this month alone we’ve already seen the other books hit each of these concepts and in a more interesting manner. It’s not so much bad here as it is uninspired in the handling of these moments, like they’re included because that’s what people want, rather than Jenkins or Finch having an idea on how to do something out of the ordinary with them. While the dialogue is already better thanks to Jenkins’ contributions, right now it does not feel like “Batman: The Dark Knight” is going anywhere special.
Finch’s pencils are the same as ever. He’s at his best with the darker, moodier pieces. His opening two-page spread of Batman leaping down is well executed in its use of shadow and silhouette, as well as the carefully drawn buildings in the background. But when it comes to the actual people (especially at the event), it’s not as interesting. Everyone looks vaguely the same (Bruce Wayne and Lieutenant Forbes might as well be the same person with a dye job), and Jaina Hudson’s dress feels less fashionable (despite being based off of real outfits) and more just an excuse to draw long legs. And as for the ending, it’s hard to keep from feeling like the art is letting down the script a bit, that there’s something more that it should be showing us to match the dialogue.
“Batman: The Dark Knight” #1 is a vast improvement from what the series was before, and I have high hopes that Jenkins’ continuing presence (after all, he wasn’t in the initial solicitation) will over time strengthen the book much more. But right now, it’s the weak link in the “Batman” family of comics.