A thrilling, well written story sure to please any Batman fan.
The three most essential elements of a solid Batman story are dark shadows, killer fights, and a good mystery. Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 1 has all three and then some. One of the latest hardcovers in the New 52 collections, this book is a thrilling ride with a well written story and artwork sure to please any Batman fan. The team DC Comics brought together to bring us this publication paid their proper respects to every major player showing up in this title, regardless of whether they’re a regular of Batman’s province or not.
Published in October 2012, this hardcover collection is the result of the contribution of several writers and artists. It binds together issues #1-9 of Batman: The Dark Knight. The writing of David Finch (Batman #700, Batman: The Return, Superman/Batman #75) and Paul Jenkins (Spectacular Spider-Man, Wolverine: The End, Batman: Jekyll and Hyde) piece together a twisted mystery. Jenkins, along with Ed Benes (Justice League of America, Supergirl, WildC.A.T.S.), handle the pencils while Richard Friend (Supergirl, Gen 13, Trinity), Rob Hunter (Justice League of America, Iron Man, Teen Titans), and Jack Purcell (Gotham Underground, Batgirl, Green Arrow) take care of the inks.
I cannot stress enough how excellent the writing is. The dialogue properly illustrates the quirks and eccentricities of all characters involved. Jim Gordon is a mulling, sullen mess. Alfred is portrayed as an intelligent assistant to Batman with a penchant for clever retorts to the Dark Knight’s requests. The Detective himself is shown with shifting but poignant internal dialogue, his thoughts conflicted as the story unfolds. The only thing I found lacking in character development is the portrayal of Bruce Wayne, whose billionaire playboy acting isn’t quite as convincing as I have come to know him to be capable of. It doesn’t just stop with those three men. Every villain and hero, no matter their of their role, is handled with great care and precision. Also noteworthy is the way the writers didn’t just throw people from all across the DCU in for the sake of having. Everyone has a meaningful part to play in the overall story which gives the reader an idea of the scope and ramifications of the unfolding narrative.
This is a proper mystery, with Batman taking an active role in trying to figure out just what the hell is going on and who is actually behind all of this madness, all while trying to cope with the steady stream of surprises coming his way (and trust me, there are many). This is the kind of book that deserves more than one read just to be sure nothing was missed.
While the storytelling was well done, the artwork is blockbuster. Despite the change of artists at work between each issue, the art is rendered without losing its cohesiveness. This would be a proper book to read in the dark, under a blanket, and with a flashlight on. The book’s illustrators utilize a lot of shadows without losing any of the details in facial expressions, in Batman’s toys and vehicles, or in the environments. The panel placement was a little confusing on a couple of pages, but didn’t detract from the storytelling. Overall, the selection of panels and they way they flow paces well with the story and the impact of the characters is bolstered by the use of a variety of splash pages. They did a great job making the superheroes seem larger than life, especially The Dark Knight. The villains come across as genuinely scary and intimidating. The settings they drew gave a sense of shock and surprise as I wondered: Holy crap. What did the Batman get himself into now?
I think my heart was actually pounding as I read this book, so I read it again just to see if that was actually the case. While I gave it some time between readings and I already knew what was going to happen, my heart definitely pounded again as I gave it a second read-through. That to me makes it bookshelf and recommendation-worthy. If you’re a Batman fan, do not miss this book while collecting the New 52 hardcovers and collections. You won’t be disappointed.