At last it’s here! The second chapter of Batman: One Dark Knight, written and drawn by the one and only Jock himself. In the previous issue we saw that E.M.P. caused a city-wide blackout with his meta-human powers and now Batman has to get E.M.P. safely across Gotham to Blackgate. Issue #1 was a great success, but will #2 be as good? Let’s have a look.
I mean, of course it’s good! This comic is a strong continuation of everything that was set up in the first chapter, and what makes it so strong is the consistency that Jock brings to this comic. Jock draws every single panel with so much energy and passion that these visuals just leap off the page. When Batman fights his foes, he hits hard, and it’s truly impressive how Jock is able to zoom in and out on situations and draw each scene from various angles. This is an artist who just doesn’t let up, never taking any shortcuts, never phoning anything in. An artist who cares deeply about his craft, and it shows. Not only are his panels very detailed, the sequential aspect is something to behold too!
One Dark Knight #2 is an incredibly dynamic comic book. The sequential art flows across every page, where every panel builds to the next, but that’s not all: every page flows into the next as well. There is always movement, always something visually interesting to look at. Gotham, even in the midst of a blackout, feels alive, and that’s certainly more than I can say about most other Big Two comics that I’ve been reading, where sometimes cities can feel like empty backgrounds for heroes in cool/weird poses. Here’s an example from this issue: There is a scene where we see a bunch of henchmen on the ground, talking about what they’re supposed to do. Meanwhile, we see another character on the fire escape, listening in on the men below. At the end of the scene, we see this character descending the stairs and quite literally moving into the next scene on the next page, where we follow this character for a bit. It’s a fantastic and highly effective way to establish the character’s point of view, and it demonstrates Jock’s keen eye and approach to storytelling as an artist first and foremost. This is what comics need, folks! Comics require amazing artwork, and this comic book has it, from cover to cover.
The writing is pretty damn good as well. The book is structured really well, with a clear vision and with purpose. This entire story is all about adventure and action, and it fully embodies the notion of forward momentum that good superhero books thrive on. For example, the opening scene shows various gangs moving out to find E.M.P. and stop Batman. Establishing these gangs quickly and concisely is a great way to communicate the sense of danger and introduce the element of suspense to the reader.
One Dark Knight #2 also has strong character work. E.M.P. did not get much character development in the first chapter, but here Jock has him open up to Batman about his past. We find out that he is haunted by an accident that he caused at one point in his life. I guess this scene could be criticized because it’s entirely told through exposition, and while I usually hammer that kind of stuff because I prefer showing to telling in any visual artform, I actually think it fits quite well in this case. If E.M.P.’s backstory was told through flashback, the narrative flow would’ve been interrupted, and that would not have done this particular story any favors. Using exposition as a tool to let E.M.P. talk about his past keeps the story firmly in the present and maintains that sense of forward momentum.
However, what I appreciate the most about this issue is how Jock juggles various plot threads. These different plots run parallel and interconnect and it’s all very intricate in terms of narrative structure. We follow Vasquez, who clearly has some sort of agenda and an endgame in mind that she’s working toward; there’s Montoya’s predicament, as she’s trapped inside a car wreck, unable to move, with criminals fast approaching; there’s E.M.P.’s backstory; there’s a new character who’s linked to the main story in a pretty interesting way; the conflicts between various gangs are fleshed out a bit more; and we get a ton of Batman awesomeness as he’s constantly forced to think on his feet and improvise because of all the unexpected twists and turns that he encounters. Not once does it get too much. Jock knows where he wants this story to go and he’ll get it there, and he’s so good at it that he almost makes it look easy.
What’s more, I praised the previous issue for not including a lot of inner monologue, because I feel that inner monologue is often very unnecessary, especially when the art says it all. Here, we do get a bunch more inner monologue, but I actually quite enjoyed reading it. Jock captures Batman’s voice well. It’s to the point. It’s blunt. It’s strategic and fearless. It’s Batman. The only criticism that I have this time around is that Batman seems surprised when he finds the wreckage of the Batplane in the city, like he completely forgot that he had the Batplane flying around and that it crashed because of E.M.P.’s blast. Sure, Batman isn’t thinking straight due to plot-related reasons, but you’d think that he would’ve remembered this one thing. But that’s really just a nitpick. This book is freaking awesome!
- You love Jock’s work, because if you do, you need to see this!
- You’re craving some real suspenseful adventure after all the slow, decompressed non-stories that we’ve been getting form DC lately.
- You want to read a damn good, standalone superhero miniseries.
Overall: Jock writes and draws beautifully. This book has all the suspense, action and intrigue that you could wish for. This is a book that’s worth buying and Jock is an artist who deserves all the love, respect and support. So what are you waiting for? Get this comic! Enthusiastically recommended!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.