This is it, folks. The third and final issue of Jock’s One Dark Knight series. I love both the first and second issue of this story, and have praised them for their glorious visuals and sharp writing while giving them high scores. But whenever I’m enjoying a story that much, I always feel a little nervous going into the conclusion, because endings are hard to write and I want this book to succeed on all fronts. So does Jock pull this one off? Let’s have a look.
If you dig the art in the previous two issues, you’ll dig the art in this one. It’s big and epic, filled with lots of dynamic action. But before we get there, the story starts off rather claustrophobic. On the first three pages, we barely see anything as we find Batman stuck in the sewers. Jock uses lots of blacks, with only the occasional splash of color, usually in blue hues. You could look at this and say that Jock’s using a shortcut to start off his conclusion, but I think that drawing these panels from Batman’s perspective as he’s trying to find his way through the dark is very effective.
After this, the art transitions to the more widescreen, epic set pieces that we’re used to seeing in issue #1 and #2. We see Batman fighting gang bangers in the sewer before going toe to toe with Killer Croc. Jock carefully sets up these fight sequences so that it makes sense how many enemies there are and from which directions they come. I like how he sometimes zooms in on Batman’s cowl, showing his white eyes as he readies himself for battle, only to zoom out again and show how Batman’s punching and kicking the criminals around him. It’s clever and creative visual storytelling all around, from the first page to the last. The art is definitely not one of this issue’s problems.
The problems exist solely in the writing, and even then they’re not major problems, but they still impact the storytelling enough that I feel I have to comment on this. First of all, Batman’s inner monologue is needlessly edgy, to a point that it’s just too over-the-top for me. Had Jock opted for a more down-to-earth and to-the-point narrative voice for Batman—like he did in the previous issues!—the narration would have flowed much better. Now it takes me out of the story at times, because I don’t like this type of edgy narration.
Furthermore, I don’t think that the scenes where Croc is beating up Batman are that effective. We all know that Batman is going to win in the end and that Croc is going to get it. There is simply no way that Croc is actually going to put Batman down that early in the issue and so close to the story’s ending. Instead of putting Batman in danger, I think it would have been more effective to have Croc and his goons be an active threat to E.M.P., for example. To me it’s much more enjoyable to see Batman struggling to get to E.M.P. in time to save him, than seeing Batman get beaten into the ground, only to get back up and hit back twice as hard. On the other hand, it is totally badass how Batman soldiers on even after taking so much damage.
The book’s ending itself is satisfying in the way that it deals with the main villain, Vasquez, the prison warden, but I also feel that it’s somewhat rushed. Throughout this series, the streets are swarming with criminals and we’ve seen them carrying all kinds of weapons, from melee weapons to actual rocket launchers. These criminals are here to wage war. But just like that, the GCPD mops up the crooks and the whole conflict is resolved. Of course I’m not suggesting that there should be an entire fourth issue that deals with just arresting all the criminals, but it’s really just the sudden switch from the war zone to the GCPD rounding up the criminals that I find a little jarring. It does not ruin the story at all, though, I just think this could have been executed better.
That said, before the story’s conclusion, there’s a very cool plot twist. I won’t reveal what it is, but I do want to bring this up because I think this is an example of great writing in this issue. It has to do with Vasquez’s plan to take down E.M.P., but the events do not play out according to that plan. Vasquez’s reaction to the situation and Batman’s role in it are natural and logical writing choices, but it’s a twist that I did not necessarily see coming. To boot, it ties some of the major dangling threads together, which results in a satisfying resolution at the very end in terms of character arcs and themes.
- You’re into exciting, bare-knuckles, high action comics.
- Fantastic artwork is all you need.
- Jock is your artistic hero—he deserves all the support in the world!
Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed One Dark Knight all the way through, from the first issue to the conclusion. The artwork has been absolutely phenomenal and will be a great addition to any comic book enthusiast’s collection, especially if you’re into high level, carefully crafted art. The writing in this issue is a little weaker than in the previous issues, though, and I think this story wraps up a little too quickly. However, Jock had a vision for this book, and he stuck to it all the way to the very end, and all things considered this is one hell of an achievement. Recommended!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.