We may have seen a Dark Knight rise, but that doesn’t mean that the sun has set on our time with Batman.
“Batman: The Dark Knight” is the only Batman comic out this week (not counting the digital stuff) and with “Dark Knight” right there in the name, I’m sure a lot of new readers, fresh from seeing the recent film, will pick it up without knowing or really caring what they’re in for. And even though it’s the 2nd part of a Scarecrow story, it really isn’t that bad of a jumping on point for those newbies testing the waters. Much of what happened in issue #10 is summed up nicely so the uninitiated can keep up. But if you are one of those new readers then I suggest you pick up issue #10 instead. It’s a far better comic and I feel that even though you’ll be able to follow what goes on here, issue #11 is not a good enough comic on its own to keep you coming back for more.
Issue #11 slows things down considerably. So much so that it doesn’t really feel like much happened when you compare it to the previous installment. Last time we had a sting operation gone wrong, Bruce/Damian drama, Bruce/girlfriend drama, Scarecrow terrorizing a little girl, Scarecrow terrorizing Gordon, Batman having a sentimental moment with a victim, etc. etc. There was a lot of content packed into those 30 or so pages! This issue, however, retreads the same scenes from the last issue. You’ll have to watch a similar Scarecrow terrorizes little girl scene again that takes up most of the issue and another 2 pages is spent reminding us that girlfriend Natalya is feeling ignored and neglected by Bruce. The story never actually moves along until the final 3 or 4 pages. The things we don’t already know from last issue are scenes we already know because they’re from one of the most loved Batman films of all time. It borrows a scene from “Batman Begins” in which Bruce falls into a well and is terrified by bats and it’s sort of like “Yeah, we get it. We’ve all seen this before. Move it along!”
This isn’t to say that there aren’t any good scenes. The Scarecrow has a particularly terrifying moment and there’s a creepy scene in a public park that you need to look at closely otherwise you’ll miss the subtleties. A shot of Batman speeding away in the batmobile was especially cool. BUT everything else is mediocre or outright bad. The bad comes from the final 4 pages, which I’ll cover in spoiler tags.
As for the artwork, I thought it looked good. Finch makes the Scarecrow’s scenes as grainy and dirty as possible so they feel extra unsettling, he brings us one of the best shots of the batmobile I’ve seen yet in the New 52, and the most impressive thing about the art for me was easily the variety. Variety in settings from flashbacks to Wayne manor to flashbacks to Crane’s childhood home, one scene takes place in a serene park while the next takes place in a dingy dungeon– no two settings were alike. And even though the Scarecrow is the one character wearing a full mask, he’s also the most expressive. Finch did a great job of conveying a variety of emotions like excitement, madness, anger, and my favorite, the momentary realization of being a monster before snapping back into nightmare incarnate–you’ll see what I’m talking about. The negatives regarding the art would have to be A) the cover, which is easily the most boring bat-cover since Jim Lee’s variant for “Batman” #2 and B) the final 4 pages.
Here are the problems I wanted to talk about in spoiler tags:
Things were off to a good start in issue #10 so much so that I overvalued it at a 9/10 just to shake people out of apathy and give this series a chance after 9 horrible, horrible comics in a row. But this issue here falls flat. Still better than anything from issues #1-9, but definitely mediocre. The worst thing about all of this is that a lot of potential new readers are going to be coming into comic shops this week after seeing “The Dark Knight Rises” and this book is going to make for a very forgettable first impression.