Hey it’s Andrew here with another late review. These are quite a bit more relaxed since I know fewer people are going to read them and I can just let the stream of consciousness flow.
So, Batman: The Dark Knight #18. What did everybody think about it? I thought it was okay. Not really bad, but nothing spectacular either. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the artwork by Ethan Van Sciver, who’s proving to be a great fit for the series, but the new Mad Hatter origin didn’t sit well with me and Batman made some questionable choices. And why’s Batman getting his ass kicked so much lately? Heretic whooped him in Batman Inc. this week and here you’ll see not only Mad Hatter but Catwoman bring the Dark Knight to his knees.
The questionable things Batman does start from page one and go throughout the book. It seems like Gregg Hurwitz was writing more for the Dick Grayson Batman than the Bruce Wayne version, really. There’s such an openness to him and he even gets kind of sarcastic with a bad guy at one point and it doesn’t read right at all. But anyway, on page one we see Bruce walking in public talking about the Mad Hatter case with Alfred over his cell phone. Seeing Bruce openly discussing Batman business on the street didn’t feel right to me. Especially since Bruce is easily one of the most famous faces in Gotham and everyone would be looking at him. Then he sees a girl in a restaurant window and he gives this weird face.
I assume the girl he sees is his ex-girlfriend but we’ve really not gotten familiar enough with how Ethan Van Sciver draws her yet to know for sure. But just judging by the context clues, that’s what makes the most sense. Still…that face…it’s the least cool I’ve ever seen Bruce Wayne.
From there we get a pretty enjoyable monologue from Tweedle-dee about how severely Batman injured him once before and we get some cool images of Batman crashing around Gotham. This is all pretty enjoyable and it leads into the origins of Mad Hatter and his Alice obsession. It’s not bad and actually pretty entertaining. I think it’s just my own bias about liking the Animated Series origin far more that’s holding me back from really accepting this new beginning of Tetch’s road to villainy. We’re being asked to accept that rather than his twisted nature coming about through a natural progression of extreme loneliness that it’s actually because he took some controversial medication as a teenager? No…no I don’t like that at all. I find the idea of an ugly man so desperate for love that he escapes into a world of fiction and then gets lost in it to be far more compelling than pills turning the short kid into a homicidal maniac. But I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see where this new, ultra-violent Mad Hatter takes us. After all, the original Mad Hatter, even the one from the Animated Series that I love so well, is quite one note. Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze, and Man-Bat are villains that have never had a whole lot of range. It’s quite ironic that such an imaginative character as the Mad Hatter would have so little imagination when it comes to his villainous plots. So perhaps the New 52 take with all his gory blades and frequent gunshots will bring forth fresh motivations and more intricate plans full of ambition beyond recreating a tea party or two? For now though it does indeed seem like Hurwitz’s Hatter is indeed recreating a fairy tale but he’s going about it in a more gruesome way and I’m not feeling it.
The appearance of Catwoman I touched on earlier really had no place here at all other than to add some levity to all the blood splattered Hatter panels. And it’s good to see Catwoman written competently again. The problem was that while Catwoman felt right to me, Batman didn’t. You can check the spoiler tags I did in the first paragraph as an example.
The bulk of the issue is Batman doing detective work, which is nice, and the Mad Hatter flashbacks, which are beautifully drawn and colored. I think it’s worth it to the curious to pick this up just to see what exactly I’m talking about with the new direction for Mad Hatter whether you love it or hate it. But Batman… I think most of you would agree with me that what he does on the last few pages is hard to swallow.
Worth picking up? If you’ve been reading this arc since the beginning, sure. If you’re curious about the new Mad Hatter origin and have $3 bucks to spare, sure. Is it must-reading? Not really. There’s some excellent artwork here but the overabundance of unnecessary gore and stilettos with Mad Hatter and the overly open and sarcastic Batman turn me off. Ya know, even though I said this late review would play out differently than usual, I think it turned out about the same. About 1000 words worth of me rambling.