There have been a number of occasions in which I’ve told readers to pick up a copy of the soon-to-be-canceled Batman: The Dark Knight, but ignore all the words and just enjoy the visuals. Well, I can say that again with issue #26 but this time that’s how the comic was actually intended to be enjoyed!

“Voiceless: Part One” is a mostly silent comic that only features the occasional sound effect or speech bubble with the bat-symbol or some other image floating within. It’s the first chapter of a 2-part story involving illegal immigrants forced into slave labor by The Penguin, a villain writer Gregg Hurwitz is always eager to employ. Batman and Penguin are barely featured in this issue as the narrative follows a Mexican woman and her family as they stumble from one horrifyingly awful situation after another as they make the journey to Gotham City, USA just in time for the holiday season. It’s a very dark tale filled with the desperate and downtrodden and their dead children. If you didn’t hate the Penguin enough already, you certainly will after reading this.

As for Batman’s appearance, he is very much showcased as a dark guardian angel albeit one that shows up too late. We get a panel with Batman cradling someone in his arms that’s reminiscent of Death in the Family, but that’s about the only highlight. I was especially aggravated with how ill-prepared and clumsy Batman was in his approach to the situation but I’ll cover that in a spoiler tag.

Spoiler
Rather than call the GCPD and have a perimeter set up for a massive rescue operation involving hundreds of immigrant children, Batman bursts in and sends a tidal wave of lost kids out into the cold winter streets of Gotham to be free. Then the bad guys show up in a number of trucks and aim net-canons at The Dark Knight who… well, he doesn’t do anything but roar. It’s a wordless comic so all we see is Batman throw his arms back and make an angry face as if to say “Come at me, bro!” and then he gets brought down instantly by all of the incoming nets. Here’s hoping that writer Greg Hurwitz has this all be a part of Batman’s master plan because if the Caped Crusader approached every situation like this he would’ve been dead long ago.

With little to no words to speak of, you can imagine how this is a very quick read unless you take the time to really appreciate the artwork. Also, without any narration or dialogue, all of the storytelling hinges on the clarity of the sequential images to convey the story. For the most part, Alberto Ponticelli does a good job of giving the story the momentum it needs and expressing what is happening without any accompanying script. I will say that I didn’t care for the use of images within speechbubbles though, that seemed like we were cutting corners and I also didn’t care for the inclusion of a Gotham City postcard (I assume that’s what it was) in a key scene.

Spoiler
The catalyst for the trip to Gotham in particular is started when someone hands the main character a Gotham City postcard at a funeral… who does that?

While it’s all serviceable, I did find Ponticelli’s style to at times be some of the least appealing I’ve seen in any issue of this series. It’s very rough, very sketchy, and the perspective on one panel in which Penguin is pointing an umbrella directly at the reader didn’t look right at all. When I pick up a comic that’s worldless, I expect a lot more from the imagery and this simply didn’t compare to past issues by Ethan Van Sciver or David Finch and it was definitely a far cry from the other silent Batman comic from this year, Batman & Robin #18.

Recommended If…

  • You love a silent comic
  • You’re okay with seeing very little of Batman
  • You’re in the mood for something bleak

Overall

Not really good or bad, but a very middle of the road book. I would personally skip it, but if you do decide to go ahead and pick it up you’ll at least be mildly entertained by the novelty of a silent comic or the very dark and depressing story.

SCORE: 5/10