Three months after its premier issue, David Finch’s new “Batman: The Dark Knight” has provided a second issue. I mention this delay not because late books are automatically bad, but rather that it’s hard to feel like this was worth the wait.
The first issue of “Batman: The Dark Knight” was light on substance, and unfortunately that’s equally true here. We get a fight scene, an aside or with new characters, and then this month’s ridiculously cheesy “before I kill you, Mister Bond” moment. (It is, in many ways, the flip side to the “Batman Incorporated” #3 cliffhanger, although I doubt that was planned by anyone.) There’s no heft to this comic, nothing good to make you sit up and take notice in its writing.
The one thing that you will remember is the excessive violence. There’s an in-story explanation for part of it, but none the less having Batman break three of the Penguin’s limbs feels like this comic has stepped over the line of good taste, and that’s even before Batman’s face is slammed into a wall so hard that it craters. This is over the top and for no good reason other than shock value.
Some bits and pieces of the art stand out in a good way. Finch can draw a good rainy alleyway, for instance; it’s moody and grim, and it instantly places you in the frame of mind that Finch wants. Likewise, the large, empty church near the end of the issue looks great, with its stonework floors, beautiful arches, and pink stained glass in the background. And leaving architecture behind, I like the way Finch draws Commissioner Gordon here; he’s only in a few panels, but it’s a sharp depiction of the character.
On the other hand, the first issue of “Batman: The Dark Knight” was compared in some quarters to Todd McFarlane’s infamous “Spider-Man” run in the 1990s. Perhaps that’s why Finch draws another, lesser-known crime-fighter in Gotham City as looking like a patchwork Spawn? And as for the scenes with the potential new sidekick at the Batmobile, well, they’re a bad combination of too-shadowed and too over-rendered in the coloring. It’s somewhat hard to read those pages, a bad mixture of blacks and shiny.
So many of the revamped Batman line of comics have proven to be a blast (“Detective Comics,” “Batman,” “Batman Incorporated,” “Batgirl”) but two issues in, there’s nothing new being brought to the table by “Batman: The Dark Knight,” save for some increased violence. The plot itself is slightly unoriginal, but even worse it’s lethargic in its pace. Add in a slow publication schedule and this is rapidly feeling like a book that needs to be re-thought, editorially. This isn’t working.