Batman: The Dark Knight should simply be called “David Finch’s Art Showcase” as that is all it is. It’s your chance to see one of DC’s best artists draw as many A-list characters as possible in one 32 page book. This real highlight of this issue, for me, was the way he did Scarecow. He’s lost his hate, but every crease and stitch in his mask is there in rich, creepy detail. I especially liked the swirling hellfire eyes. It’s one of my favorite versions of Scarecrow I’ve seen in a while, not that it does anything that unique with his design, but it gets everything right that I was looking for. His characterization is pretty generic, however, but there’s really no reason to even read what everyone is saying in this book. I would enjoy it more if they left the speech bubbles empty and let the readers make their own comic, honestly.
As of right now it basically reads like this…
Scarecrow: Blah blah blah Fear!
Batman: Blah blah blah you can’t scare me.
Scarecrow: Blah blah blah new toxin.
*splashpage cameos of every Batman villain*
Scarecrow: Fear fear fear fear…Bye!
*exit Scarecrow, who somehow heard Superman coming. Enter Superman*
Superman: I’m here because you can’t handle things on your own and need Justice League assistance in every issue. What happened?
Batman: Let’s fight!
*Batman/Superman brawl splash pages*
*Superman is tired of humoring Batsy and bitch slaps him to the ground…how Batman flew up there in the first place…I dunno*
–End of issue #5—
I know from the various solicits that Bane is supposed to have something to do with this and that there should be some venom mixed into this serum but so far in these 5 issues its never been mentioned even by those observing the behavior of the injected specimens. Everyone quadruples in size but it’s never acknowledged. Oh, well.
But like I said, don’t worry about the story. Instead I’ll list all the characters you get to see David Finch draw in this one issue: Scarecrow, Batman, Superman, Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Penguin, Damien, Man-Bat, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, Spellbinder?, Maxie Zeus?, Mad Hatter, Hugo Strange, the Mad Monk, Hush (the back of his head), and the dead Waynes.
See, using fear toxin on Batman was a great excuse to have Batman hallucinate his entire rogues gallery for a couple of pages, ensuring you get your money’s worth out of the David Finch art. It looks cool and it wasn’t that forced, either. Unlike the Superman/Batman fight which…does that excite anyone anymore? Batman vs. Superman battles don’t do anything for me since nothing is ever at stake and you know they’re going to be friends by the end of it anyway and this one has Superman humoring Batman the whole time. By the way, in the first five months of the New 52, Batman and Superman have fought twice already.
It’s not a terrible comic, but the consistently poor writing is dragging Finch’s name down. I used to look forward to anything he was involved in but I’m beginning to associate his name with a mediocre product thanks to this series. Again, if you just want to see some sweet drawings of your favorite characters punching each other, you’re going to love this book. But if you’re craving something more, look elsewhere. I will say that the book has gotten better since the first “Call me One-Face!!!” issue.
Update: The score was incorrectly published as 5/5. It has been updated to the more accurate, 5/10.