Now I know a lot of people are still going to get a kick out of this issue. Batman: The Dark Knight is a comic that anyone can pick up at any time. It’s a book that casual readers will gravitate to because when they pick it up in the shop and flip through the pages they see glorious images of all our favorite A-list heroes, B-list villains, scantily clad women, and lots of bloody knuckles and fiery explosions. It’s hard to see that and not be willing to throw down $2.99 to find out what exactly is going on here. If the shelves of the comic store were a TV guide, Batman: The Dark Knight would be the Storage Wars or Jersey Shore of the list. It’s definitely not of the same caliber of show as Mad Men or Sons of Anarchy or Boardwalk Empire, but it is something that gives you instant entertainment without requiring you to invest tons of time learning who everyone is, what their motives are, how that scene referenced an event from 2 years ago, etc. etc. Batman: The Dark Knight seems to me to be a book that you’re supposed to relax to. Do you just want to look at Batman and maybe the superfriends beat up all the bad guys? Well, here you go.
So I guess what I’m saying is that as much as I hate on this book, that’s just my personal taste. This could very well be something worth picking up for those who love to see their favorite characters duel, but don’t want to get invested in a long-term story. And Finch is the perfect artist to show off all those buxom beauties and bulky heroes.
Now, let me get all negative and be a stick-in-the-mud…
As much as I love the video game Arkham City, there were actually 2 things in it that I didn’t like. #1 was (spoilers, but if you’re reading reviews for Batman comics, chances are you played the best Batman video game of all-time, right?) how Batman just let Hush walk away. It took like 2 seconds to break out of that weak-ass trap and you’re telling me Batman isn’t going to chase Hush down? And #2 was Bane. Bane is a hulk-like figure in the Arkhamverse. He’s like 15 feet tall, his venom is delivered via several garden hoses that light up, and as far as characterization goes, he’s an idiot with no ambition and villainous plots that Batman can easily see through. So why David Finch decided to model the New 52 Bane exactly after the Arkhamverse Bane is beyond me. I guess he just really liked the video game.
The cover advertises issue #6 as “The Rise of BANE!” but it’s not. It’s an abortion. If you want to read about the rise of Bane this week, pick up the TPB Batman Versus Bane just came out today as well. It collects Batman/Bane and Batman: Bane of the Demon 1-4. If you pick up Batman: The Dark Knight, however, you get a rip-off Arkham Asylum Bane who, for some reason, sounds exactly like the Scarecrow from previous issues. You can take the same “blah, blah, blah, FEAR!” lines from Scarecrow in the last issue and interchange them with Bane’s here and there would be no real difference. Well, except for how Bane keeps bringing up how he broke Batman’s back (which we can all sigh relief knowing that Knightfall is still part of continuity). Bane is kind of like the guy who threw the game winning pass in high school and won’t shut the hell up about it 20 years later. Nobody cares anymore. You haven’t done anything since then.
But wait, that whole “you haven’t really done anything since then” thing I just said didn’t really hold true for the pre-52 Bane. Now that character actually did grow some over the years. He didn’t constantly reference his past achievements and he definitely wasn’t an idiot. That Bane kicked the venom habit and was really starting to gain popularity in Gail Simone’s Secret Six. Batman: The Dark Knight doesn’t just rewind Bane’s character a few years. It’s a complete bastardization, it’s that terrible characterization that folks who have never read the comics always attribute Bane– he’s just a scary giant. I tell ya, The Dark Knight Rises can’t get here fast enough. It will have the biggest influence on his character since Knightfall and hopefully, after it hits theaters I’ll never have to suffer this kind of Bane ever again.
I can’t help but wonder how bad this book was before Joe Harris came aboard. If you check the credits of this issue, you’ll see that some extra help had to come in to spruce up the book’s dialogue. Dialogue that is still awful and exposition heavy. If Paul Jenkins can’t handle this mess of a story on his own, then clearly the book is in trouble and the switch over to Gregg Hurwitz can’t get here fast enough (it’s issue #10, but #9 will be by Judd Winick who is handling Batwing and Catwoman right now). Lord knows this whole White Rabbit thing has gone on for long enough. We’re 6 issues in and I have no idea what she’s up to, what anyone is up to for that matter. And that’s amazing when you consider just how exposition heavy this issue is. The first few pages are Batman rambling about how he managed to fight off the negative effects of the toxin because Superman pushed him to his limits or some other nonsense. From what I recall, Superman didn’t push Batsy to his limits at all. Batman, without fear, acted like a jerk and started sassing Superman who promptly pimp slapped him back to Earth (Batman kinda flew for a bit). It’s when the book tries to explain itself and be taken seriously that it becomes glaringly obvious just how bad it is.
Probably the worst moment in this issue for me, outside of my issue with Bane, is when Batman and Bane are fighting. Bane is standing in a pool of water, drowning the Dark Knight. Batman is fully submerged, unable to breathe in the swampy waters when suddenly he uses a gadget to electrocute Bane and escape to safety. An electric charge big enough to send super-Bane flailing + water + Batman = dead Batman. Plain and simple. They could have had the argument that his suit is insulated from an electric shock, but Batman’s entire body, including exposed mouth, were under water. Batman, world’s greatest detective, by all rights, should be fried.
By the end of this issue we still don’t know what White Rabbit is up to, we learn that Bane is going to make himself smarter (because he’s apparently stupid), and we also get one more new villain cameo other than Bane. To me, that doesn’t add up to anything worth $2.99.
It tries to be big, action packed fun, but I still didn’t like it. And it’s not like I’m opposed to such things (Ask me about my love for Road House and Con Air). I don’t see a story here, I don’t like the characterization (can’t even root for Batman. This is just a guy in a Batman suit who keeps stumbling into situations where he gets his ass kicked), the dialogue sounds unnatural…the only thing this book had going for it was the art and even that blatantly rips off the Arkhamverse design. It doesn’t matter how good the art can be when it serves little purpose other than to polish a turd.