New 52 – Batman: The Dark Knight #3 review

I’m disappointed by this book again, but I didn’t hate it as much as the previous issue. In fact, there was even one scene that I found fairly entertaining. This is a weird, ridiculous book that thinks it’s a lot more fun than it really is, but maybe I’m just not shutting my brain off enough while I read it. For instance: this drug that all of the villains have been taking recently, the one that turns Joker, Two-Face, and others into a hulking Bane-like badass has ONLY been described as increasing adrenaline and removing all fear from the users mind. Not once has it been mentioned that it has a muscle-growing effect. Not once. Yet everyone still turns into a giant. Anyway, on to the story at hand…

Discontinuity Avoided

The issue picks up where it left off with Batman fighting a juggernaut Joker. The first groan inducing moment happens on page 2 when super-Joker hits Batman a few times and Batman responds by saying “You’re not supposed to be here, Joker. I thought you decided to retire.” …what? Is he referring to the cutting off of the face in Detective comics? Is he referring to the Batman & Robin arc where Joker took up the name Oberon Sexton? Why is Batman responding to a life-or-death fight by basically saying “No fair, Joker. You said you weren’t playing anymore.”

We were all a little irked that only 3 issues into the New 52 there was already a big discrepancy in the timeline: Joker cuts off his face in Detective Comics #1 and vanishes only to show up in Batman: The Dark Knight #2 with his face perfectly intact. Well, it turns out that it isn’t Joker.

Which does make the issue a little bit better and it seems like a neat little twist at first but then you remember we saw something similar in Hush…and then you remember that in the last issue Batman fought his way through a bunch of clown-clad Joker henchmen and you start to think Why exactly is Clayface pretending to be Joker right now? And why is he taking it to the extent of dressing up his own henchmen as Joker thugs…and since when does Clayface have henchmen…and wasn’t Clayface still in Arkham Asylum in Batman #1—Just shut your brain off. That’s the mantra you have to have when reading this if you want to enjoy it.  But I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. Batman’s first reaction to fighting Clayface wasn’t to resort to any gadgets that could effect the bizarre cellular structure of Clayface or to use the environment to his advantage. Instead, Batman puts Clayface in a sleeper hold. Seriously. And then he gets lucky because the whole eye-bleeding side effect kicks in and Clayface passes out on top of Batman thus pinning the caped crusader to the floor.

White Rabbit

And then it was finally time for White Rabbit to have her first meaningful scene. But instead we get a few shots of her in various suggestive poses as she strokes Batman and calls him “baby” and “sexy bat”. The most ridiculous shot is of her with her hiney in the air and we see the little cotton tail on her thong… I mean, it’s just a terrible, terrible character design that’s sole purpose is to give the truly desperate something to drool over. Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga look more like super villains than white rabbit does.

So what does White Rabbit want to do with Batman now that he’s completely vulnerable? Inject him with the zero-fear adrenalin drug that causes eye-bleed, of course! So she readies the syringe and is ready to put the needle in Batman’s…I assume cheek, but after Detective Comics #2 it’s apparent that syringes can skewer Batman’s suit just about anywhere. But before she does, she sees that The Flash is running outside the train. Nevermind that if you can see the Flash running at you it’s already too late, she decides that there’s not enough time to push her thumb in a downward motion so instead she says “You got lucky this time, sexy bat. But remember—Alice never did catch the White Rabbit. Though if you keep at it, maybe I’ll let you get close. Now chase me.” Kind of a long thing to say when you know the Flash is coming, eh?

The Flash

So Batman radioed the Flash to pull Clayface off him and prevent the injection from happening. Fine. Whatever. Flash pulls Clayface off of Batman and the two have a little chat. But…how in the hell does White Rabbit get away? It’s the Flash. She can’t be THAT far away by now. She’s got a 5 second head start and he. Is. The. Flash. Oh well, whatever, she gets away.

The One Good Scene

Remember that internal affairs guy named Forbes who is after Batman? Well, he and some other cops arrive at the scene and pick up all of Clayface’s thugs when Batman drops Clayface’s body onto Forbes’ car. It’s a pretty cool scene and it actually feels like you’re reading a decent Batman comic for a minute. Batman gets up in Forbes’ face and tells him the score and then moves on…to go out on a date. Remember that girl Jai from the first issue? Yeah, me neither. But she and Bruce go eat dinner in a scene that adds nothing to the comic whatsoever except for the fact that David Finch’s Bruce Wayne look EXACTLY like Forbes only with dark hair instead of blonde. It’s a real shame since the art has been this series only real strength. I can put down Finch’s writing abilities for days, but the man draws a near perfect Batman. But apparently every man not wearing a mask is either bald or has the same facial features and slicked-back yet spikey hair.

Flash Again

Batman figures out that Poison Ivy must have given White Rabbit the compounds necessary to make this drug and he knows that time is a factor so he calls Flash. Again. It’s not like Flash has anything better to do, I guess. So we cut to Batman and Flash in some large building that’s a jungle at the same time…or something. Flash cuts his thumb on a thorn (which was actually a recurring joke and legitimately funny). Somehow Batman immediately makes this leap in logic that the thorn is carrying the same poison being injected into Gotham’s villains and orders Flash to run. Flash asks why and Batman explains to Flash how to use his powers. It’s a pretty insulting issue to fans of the Flash, honestly. See, if Flash runs his body won’t metabolize the toxin. Now, Batman is alone again. And he enters the next room for the big final reveal: an empty room. It’s probably the weakest cliffhanger this year in any comic and actually it’s kind of an anti-cliffhanger.

I still hate this series, but I can see how some might find this issue enjoyable. More enjoyable than the last issue. If cramming as many cameos into a single issue with a few healthy helpings of T&A is your thing then you’ll probably get a kick out of some of this. For me, it can’t be taken seriously and I don’t think it wants to be. But if I wanted to read a comic that’s just about having crazy-out-of-this-world fun with lots of cameos AND features Batman, I’ll stick with Justice League or maybe Batman: The Brave & The Bold.

SCORE: 3/10 Probably being generous, but it’s Thanksgiving.