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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very Dark Knight
The stories running through issues #22-29 of the New 52’s Batman - The Dark Knight is collected as Batman: The Dark Knight Volume 4: Clay HC (The New 52). This appears to be the final volume of this series, and it goes out with a flourish, as not only do we get the New 52 origin of Clayface, but a new and upgraded Man-Bat as well. There are three stories collected...
Published 8 months ago by Squirr-El

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2.0 out of 5 stars The Dull Knight
The Dark Knight series has been Gregg Hurwitz’s vehicle for showcasing Batman’s rogues gallery from Scarecrow to The Mad Hatter with varying results - the Scarecrow book, Cycle of Violence, was silly but The Mad Hatter book was unexpectedly brilliant. This fourth volume focuses on Clayface aka Basil Karlo, though unfortunately it’s not very good...
Published 2 months ago by Sam Quixote


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very Dark Knight, 31 Aug. 2014
By 
Squirr-El (The Metropolis, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
The stories running through issues #22-29 of the New 52’s Batman - The Dark Knight is collected as Batman: The Dark Knight Volume 4: Clay HC (The New 52). This appears to be the final volume of this series, and it goes out with a flourish, as not only do we get the New 52 origin of Clayface, but a new and upgraded Man-Bat as well. There are three stories collected here, a four-part Clayface story, a two-part story about illegal immigrants and slave labour – with no speech balloons of captions, just artwork, and a two-part Man-Bat story. The Penguin, as crime-czar of Gotham, is a major player in the Clayface story, and is also the man behind the baddies in the second.

These are excellent Batman and Alfred stories (have you noticed how Alfred has been moved from the background into the foreground as an equal partner in the New 52?), with very good scripting – especially so in the ‘soundless’ story, as the writer has to give the artist much more detail to work with in order to avoid the need for captions – and with well above average artwork, as Clayface really is a cartoon character, so it is hard work getting him to fit in with the Dark Knight’s darkly serious world.

The updated Clayface origin sees Basil Karlo as an actor who just isn’t good enough to get anywhere go to the Penguin looking for something to make him stand out in the crowd. The Penguin has an artefact looted from an Indian burial site that belonged to shape-shifting sect, and Karlo infects himself with it. Unfortunately, although initially he is able to use it to lift himself up to the dizzy heights of success, he is still, in himself, a mediocre talent who doesn’t have the willpower to control his abilities, and eventually crashes out. The Penguin in the meantime, has been using his abilities for his own criminal purposes. This story initially revolves around Clayface using his abilities to get the Penguin’s rivals to commit crimes, then turning on them while the Penguin gets the loot and ends up with fewer rivals. The opening issue literally starts with a bang, and I didn’t see the plot twist coming at all. As the issues progress, however, it is Clayface’s inner problems, as with all of the Batman’s friends in Arkham, which come to dominate him and his storyline.

The second story follows a family of illegal immigrants who flee poverty in their own country to find poverty and exploitation in Gotham. It is a ‘soundless’ story, apart from one or two sound effects here and there. This, I only realised when coming to write the review, is a Batman Christmas story. These used to be a tradition dating back to the Golden Age, when I was a child, and have in recent years been rediscovered by the writers.

The third story sees an outbreak of murders apparently committed by the Man-Bat, but Kirk Langstrom denies that it was him. He is telling the truth by the way, and that is not actually a spoiler, as you will soon discover. Who it is is another matter, and we end up with a genuinely villainous new Man-Bat – though with scope and motive for the old one to get involved at a later date.

There really are above-average stories.

THE SPOILER ZONE
THE SPOILER ZONE
THE SPOILER ZONE

Issue #22 - “Breaking Point” – opens with a rash of crimes in Gotham committed by criminal gangs working for Clayface. This time a police stakeout has trapped the gang in a bank, with a hostage. Commissioner Gordon exchanges himself for the hostage, and goes Dirty Harry, and when Batman drops in, takes a shot at him also…

Issue #23 - “Rampant” – opens with Batman struggling to capture Clayface, but he keeps slipping away. Later, Batman attempts to discover how Clayface knew about Natalya Trusevich. He questions the Mad Hatter in Arkham, and gets a lead to the Penguin. He then confronts the Penguin and suggests that Penguin is using Clayface to kill-off his rival’s men in robberies, while the Penguin pockets the loot. Eventually Batman hatches a scheme to disorient Clayface long enough to allow his traps to work on him.

Issue #24 - “Captive Audience” – which is the “secret origin” of Clayface, shows us Basil Karlo as an actor who just isn’t good enough to get anywhere, and who goes to the Penguin looking for something to make him stand out in the crowd. The Penguin has an artefact looted from an Indian burial site that belonged to shape-shifting sect, and Karlo infects himself with it. Unfortunately, although initially he is able to use it to lift himself up to the dizzy heights of success, he is still, in himself, a mediocre talent who doesn’t have the willpower to control his abilities, and eventually crashes out. The Penguin in the meantime, has been using his abilities for his own criminal purposes.

Issue #25 - “Full House” – sees Clayface, having escaped from Arkham at the end of the previous issue confront the Penguin, and hand in his resignation. He begins to kidnap citizens of Gotham to populate his own little theatre with a captive audience. Batman recruits a couple of helpers to work through a list of possible sites for the lair, while Clayface gets a sample of the Joker’s Venom from the man himself to use on is audience. Eventually Batman tracks him down for a final showdown…

Issue #26 - “Voiceless” – follows a family of illegal immigrants who flee poverty in their own country to find poverty and exploitation in Gotham, where they end up working for the Penguin as slave labourers. One of the family members makes a break for it, and the body is found by the Batman, who comes looking for trouble, and finds it…

Issue #27 - “Angel of Darkness” – opens with Batman a prisoner of the baddies – for about four pages. Before long, he is angrily hunting for the factory where the illegal immigrants (from the previous issue) are imprisoned. It turns out that this is an old-fashioned Batman Christmas Story, and the Penguin goes to jail…

Issue #28 - “Corporate Raider” – opens with the discovery that the Man-Bat is on the rampage in Gotham, as bodies are turning up drained of blood and with very distinctive puncture wounds. We are soon introduced to the villain, who is not Kirk Langstrom. This chap is a big corporate businessman, who has bought up the Man-Bat serum and research from the various villainous people holding it, and while using it to develop a cure for hearing-loss, has also made himself a super-strength Man-Bat serum, and is not afraid to use it, as Batman discovers when trying to inject him with Langstrom’s antidote.

Issue #29 - “In the Shadow” – opens with Batman plunging to his doom after being dropped by the new Man-Bat while flying over Gotham. After Alfred patches him up, Commissioner Gordon sends him to confront the Man-Bat in his civilian identity (Man-Bat’s, which they all know), a he (Gordon) has no incriminating evidence to use against him: “You’re a vigilante. So… start vigilante-ing”.

Eventually, Batman works out how to administer the antidote to the new Man-Bat, whose skin is too tough for a conventional needle to penetrate, and he stakes-out his next likely target…
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Dull Knight, 21 Mar. 2015
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
The Dark Knight series has been Gregg Hurwitz’s vehicle for showcasing Batman’s rogues gallery from Scarecrow to The Mad Hatter with varying results - the Scarecrow book, Cycle of Violence, was silly but The Mad Hatter book was unexpectedly brilliant. This fourth volume focuses on Clayface aka Basil Karlo, though unfortunately it’s not very good.

If you’ve read one Clayface story, you’ve read them all. He used to be an actor, now he’s a poo monster cosplayer who shape-shifts and robs jewellery stores. Usually in these stories there’s a familiar character like Gordon or Alfred acting strangely before it’s revealed – shock poo! – it’s actually Clayface! Same story structure here.

He’s just not that great a character and his origin is even less interesting. LIke every other kid, he wanted to be thought of as cool, he wanted the ladies, and he thought acting was a shortcut to fame and fortune. None of that happens until he snorts magic clay that the Penguin got from Contrived Plot Device Land, and suddenly he’s able to look uncannily like the character he’s portraying.

Because that’s what real acting is right? Not bringing the lines to life with your delivery or presence or talent - no, real acting is wearing convincing makeup! Basil goes from being a mediocre actor to a great one just because he is able to look the part. So why do crap actors remain crap with the aid of makeup, costumes, prosthetics and even CGI? Take note, wannabe actors: get really good makeup and you will somehow become the next Daniel Day-Lewis! Clayface’s origin suuuuuucks!

And one weird detail stuck out about the end of the Clayface story: (view spoiler)

The two-part silent story, Voiceless, about an immigrant mother and daughter who come to Gotham hoping for a better life and encounter hardship and abuse, was the best of the three stories. Alberto Ponticelli’s art brilliantly carries the tale so that the reader knows exactly what’s happening at all times even without dialogue or narration.

The book closes with the worst of the three, a Manbat story. Like Clayface stories, all Manbat stories are the same: turn the manbat back into human form and then lock whoever, usually Kirk, up until it happens again, exactly the same way, next time, again and again and again. This time it stars Kirk Langstrom’s corporate raider father, Abraham, who decides to transform into a manbat for giggles.

Hurwitz not at all subtly tells a rich preying on the poor story as this Ayn Randian character literally sucks the blood of the homeless. The 1% are bad, see, they’re preying on the poor of society! Yeesh. But Batman saves the day and Bruce Wayne is definitely in the top 1% himself so, mixed messages Hurwitz!

I sort of liked Voiceless even though I’ve read Batman stories like it before but mostly I felt Hurwitz’s scripts to be very sub-par in this volume. The artists carry the book. Alex Maleev’s work is wonderful, I love his inky clear Gotham, Ponticelli’s art is great too, and Ethan van Sciver does what he always does, which is to say fine but nothing special art.

The Dark Knight, Volume 4: Clay is a very unimpressive and boring Batman book about two of his worst villains.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The problem with this volume is the good is very good the bad is the first half ..., 2 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Batman - The Dark Knight Vol. 4: Clay (The New 52) (Batman: The Dark Knight series) (Kindle Edition)
The problem with this volume is the good is very good the bad is the first half of the book the Clayface stroy was boring and prediticable, the best thing about it as the are work it really suited a Clayface story. The the Voiceless 2 issue story was brilliant and really showed not just How committed Batman is to his war on crime but, how much he does care about the people he has sworn to protect. Then the 2 issue Man Bat story was also great, but it felt rushed. I would have preferred if the made this story 4 issues and left the Clayface story in 2 issues.
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