Three issues into the relaunch of “Batman: The Dark Knight” it’s hard to keep from feeling like we’ve seen a lot of this before. In many ways, it’s following the same path as Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s “Hush” storyline, throwing as many classic Batman villains onto the page as possible. “Hush” is mostly memorable for providing readers with a year’s worth of Jim Lee pencils; sadly, “Batman: The Dark Knight” is no “Hush.”
The story by Paul Jenkins and David Finch is lacking in any sort of drive. Villains show up, Batman fights them, Batman moves on. His tangle with the Joker not only feels extraordinarily uninteresting, but the big twist here is in fact a direct lift from “Hush” and ends up falling rather flat. That alone wouldn’t be a huge problem, but it’s sadly the most interesting part of the comic. New character Lieutenant Forbes is a one-dimensional caricature (who looks more like John Constantine than a police officer), and the White Rabbit has absolutely no personality. Right now, she comes across as little more than an excuse for Finch to draw a woman in lingerie from the Victoria’s Secret catalog.
The big deal for this issue is (theoretically) the guest-appearance of the Flash, but his two scenes here are utterly useless. There’s no plot advancement from his presence, and it makes his scenes feel gratuitous and tacked on. I don’t mind small appearances of other DC Universe characters, but this feels pointless.
The art in “Batman: The Dark Knight” varies from all right to awkward. There are a lot of bad poses here, like the White Rabbit’s “hands on knees, chest forward” pose that feels straight out of a sleazy photo shoot, to Batman on top of the roof taunting Forbes, his body out at a right angle from the wall save for a single knee. It’s odd to look at, and instead of coming across as imposing it just throws the reader out of the scene. (There’s no delicate way to ask, “What’s up with the Bat-Crotch when he’s back at the cave?” so let’s just leave it at that.) The art is at its best when we see the big revelation of what’s up with the Joker, or the shocked look on Forbes’ face when Batman grabs his hand, but there’s not enough of that to sustain high marks.
I had hoped that Jenkins’ presence as co-writer would be helping out “Batman: The Dark Knight” but this issue feels like a disaster. Both creators are capable of much better than this, and hopefully we’ll get to see it before long.