It was hard for me to decide whether or not to give this book a 7 or an 8. It’s easily Tony Daniel’s best written Batman book, but it also feels like he’s channeling Frank Miller too much. Also, this is Detective Comic yet we never see Batman doing any detective work. Instead he overhears clues or gets info given to him directly. But even though the detective side is lacking, all the other staples of a good Batman story are here. Cool villain? It’s the Joker. Gadgets? Holograms and thermo-imaging lenses, baby! Action? Tons of it.
This is the most action packed Bat-book out there so if it’s some butt-kicking you’re in the market for you won’t be disappointed here. Every book featuring Batman except JLA is supposed to take place in the present, but this feels like Batman when he’s first starting out. This Batman is just starting to understand the Joker (which he never will, really), he hasn’t quite figured out the entrance to the Batcave, no other members of the bat-family are present, and the Gotham PD hates him (which leads to plenty more fight scenes).
The battles here are brutal; whether it’s Joker versus an unnamed assailant or Batman versus the Joker or an entire SWAT team. It’s a violent, bloody, and honestly gruesome comic. And that’s where I have a problem with it. You see, this is not Paul Dini’s Joker. This is without a doubt Frank Miller’s Joker. Nothing more than a horrifying serial killer who just so happens to look like a clown. This Joker lacks all style and charisma that makes the Joker everyone’s favorite villain. The fun in the Joker is that he’s unpredictable, funny, and has violent mood swings that reveal the monster underneath. The first full shot of the Joker has him as nothing more than a crazed killer wearing a wife-beater and stabbing away with a knife while he laughs. The Joker is so much more than that.
The first full shot of Batman we see, however, looks perfect. It’s a two page spread of Batman running across rooftops that really shows off the beauty of Ton Daniel’s art and the perfect coloring by Tomeu Morey. But again, the characterization is a bit lacking. Batman is a bit wooden and in a few moments feels like a caricature of himself when he delivers lines like “You can’t run. I own the night.” One character that is doing well is Harvey Bullock, who finally gets a make-over for the 21st century.
Although Ton Daniel seems to be trying a bit too hard to be dark and edgy, you can’t help but wonder where he’s going with this story. The final page has a cliffhanger that’s guaranteed to make your head spin! So I’ll give it a 7/10 and recommend it to anyone who enjoys the gritty, violent stories and fans of Tony Daniel’s previous run on Batman.