Wednesday, December 29, 2010

John Reviews The Dark Knight #1

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 REVIEW
Review by John

Before picking up the debut issue of David Finch's Batman: The Dark Knight, I had been weighing my overall feelings on artists who write their own books. I've seen enough positives in the past year to not have as high of reservations as I initially imagined. J.H. Williams' Batwoman #0 showed a lot of promise and love for the character, and I personally have loved Tony Daniel's Batman run (with the obvious exception of the abysmal Battle for the Cowl). With Finch staying in the bat Universe, this book had all the makings of a success.

And y'know what? It's not half bad.

The story revolves around a childhood romance (at briefly insinuated one, at least) between Bruce Wayne and a new character, Dawn Golden. I'm not spoiling anything by saying that we've flash forwarded to the present and Dawn has gone missing, with Batman hot on the case. Finch delivers chance encounters with some lesser known characters in Gotham (one of which is delivered in a fantastic closing scene), and includes all the basic Batman checklist items required in a book such as this. Ornery Commissioner Gordon scene? Check. Batman beating on a random threat before getting into the real story? Check. Veiled threat lurking behind the scenes? You betcha.

With Finch's comments before the book's debut, stating he planned on keeping Batman's characterization "grim", he certainly delivers. Finch's take on the character seems to ignore the Zen-Master Batman that Grant Morrison has spent the better part of 6 years sculpting, so it is a bit of a shame to see our gruff, grumbling Batman again. But I'll admit it's still a guilty pleasure seeing Batman call a criminal "scum" as he grabs him by the shirt and pulls him eye-to-eye. Finch nails Commissioner Gordon's voice and has a solid read on the overall tone of Gotham, but the story itself is rather base. The beginning reminds me a lot of "Hush", with Batman's overactive deduction of a situation through internal monologue sparking memories of Jeph Loeb. The story itself, however, is a bit vanilla, and I really hope we see things amp up in the next issue.

Finch's pencils, combined with the always impressive Scott Williams on inks, is absoluely eye-popping. Finch packs a lot onto the page, and is refreshingly restrained with his splash pages. His hyper-realistic style would look very Ultimatum in the hands of a lesser inker, so the difference between Finch's early Marvel work and today is night and day.

Overall, another solid example of DC's artist/writer hybrids and a good start to one of two Bruce Wayne Batman books. But, with the impressive state of the current Bat Books, Finch is really going to have to turn up the volume on this series to stay in step with the competition.


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