Friday, November 25, 2011

Batman: The Dark Knight #1

DC Comics, 20 pages, $ 2.99

Writer and co-plotter: Paul Jenkins
Penciler and co-plotter: David Finch
Inker: Richard Friend
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Sal Cipriano

This is a very odd book to release one week after Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman #1. For one thing, David Finch’s style, like Mr. Capullo’s as well, has a lot of the sensibilities popularized by artists like Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane in the early 1990s. For another, if you’ve read Batman, there’s a pervading sense of déjà-vu about the whole thing: Once again, Bruce Wayne talks about what a great place Gotham is to the city’s high society. Once again, there’s a mass breakout at Arkham Asylum.

Mainly, though, The Dark Knight #1 emphasizes what a well-made comic Batman #1 was. Mr. Finch and Mr. Jenkins aren’t turning in a bad comic here, certainly, but in comparison with that other Batman book from the week before, this one couldn’t seem more heavy-handed if it were glued to an anvil. Finch’s repertoire of facial expressions and gestures is as limited as Jenkins’ prose here.

It’s all inoffensive, mostly competent stuff, certainly, but it’s also another generic Batman book in a world that has no lack of generic Batman books. If there’s a distinguishing feature about it, it would be its monstrous physicality, I guess—David Finch’s Batman (like many of his other characters, so it may be incidental more than anything) is built like a brick shit-house.

In its best moments, this comic reminds me of every middling Hollywood action movie I’ve ever seen. In its less successful moments, such as the very first line on the very first page, it tells me, “fear is a cannibal that feeds upon itself,” which is wrong on so many levels that I don’t know where to start.

But, you know. Whatever. The Dark Knight is not a good comic, certainly. And it’s not a bad one, either. It’s a little bit like Batman, only not quite as good. So if generic Batman stories are your cup of tea and early-1990s style storytelling doesn’t put you off, there’s every chance you might like this.

Grade: C-

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