Comic Review: BATMAN - THE DARK KNIGHT #1

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

Comic Review: Batman - The Dark Knight #1 / Publisher: Titan Magazines / Release Date: Out Now

You may have missed it, but there's a certain Batman movie due out towards the end of July. I know, it slipped under my radar too. To tie in with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, is this comic, which collects the first issues of Batman: The Dark Knight and Detective Comics.

It's a magazine aimed squarely at new readers and amateur Batfans, evidenced by the headline 'new comic, new adventures.' Sure Batman: The Dark Knight is a new comic, but the adventures contained within are a year old by now and available in trade collection form. The cliffhanger conclusion to Detective Comics (and, to a lesser extent, The Dark Knight too) has been plastered all over the Internet since its release in 2011.

With Titan Magazines collecting Batman & Robin and Scott Snyder's Batman, it leaves this magazine with Batman's more inferior New DC adventures. I had read both stories when they were originally put out. Neither made my pull list. Still, £2.99 is a good price for two comics, so I decided to give the stories a second chance. Alas, if anything, this magazine makes them seem even worse.

Unlike Titan Magazines' Batman (still inferior to Panini's Batman Legends) the comic is printed on A4 paper, giving it a similar feel to an issue of CLiNT. The art by David Finch and Tony Salvador Daniel looks great, particularly scenes which depict Batman running across Gotham City's rooftops and beating up the Joker. Where it makes the artwork seem prettier than before, it also magnifies the script's problems and makes it seem like an even emptier experience than before. There are explosions, fight sequences and Gotham City's magnificent gothic vistas, but no substance.

In Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman responds to an explosive riot in Arkham Asylum. It feels like retreading old ground, not least because Snyder's Batman had exactly the same thing happen in his first issue too. There's a cameo from Mister Freeze and Clayface alongside a number of silly-looking B-listers, as well as the first appearance of one of Batman's New DC foes – a woman dressed like the playboy bunny and posed like Scarlett Johansson on the Avengers posters. Then Two-Face appears and things get really stupid. “You can call me One-Face now.” Why? What does that even mean? It's hard to think of a more inappropriate character to hulk out on Titan formula than Harvey Dent, and yet that's what this comic book does. We all liked the Arkham Asylum games, but this is taking it too far.

Detective Comics is a little better, but not by much. Batman is hunting the Joker, who opens the issue naked and stabbing a man to death. Never mind the gruesome final page, did anyone need to see the Clown Prince of Crime in his birthday suit? “I'm trying to figure out what the Joker was doing naked?” it's a question that perplexes the Caped Crusader. A nude Joker escapes onto the streets of Gotham, hotly pursued by Batman. Thankfully, by the time Batman catches up with him, Joker has put some clothes on. They fight, but as with the previous comic's Arkham Asylum riot, it's something readers will have seen many times before. Batman wins, because of course he does, and Joker finds himself back in Arkham. Which is where the Dollmaker comes calling...

The magazine is a very no-frills collection of the two comics. There are no features, introduction nor even any adverts. It lets the comics speak for themselves, which is a shame, since neither of them have all that much to say. New fans of the Bat may find more to enjoy, but for many others, the hunt goes on for a monthly book that lives up to the title of the Dark Knight.


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