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DC: hire Paul Dini to write Batman again!
on 2 November 2012
The most original plot device opens this Batman book: the inmates all escape from Arkham Asylum! Oh wait, that's not original, that's basically every other month. Newly freed, the inmates begin wreaking havoc on Gotham (so many windows smashed!) except some of them as displaying inordinate muscle mass and strength - almost like they're on venom... This new toxin has the added bonus of removing fear from the user so they are no longer afraid of the Dark Knight or any of Gotham's other masked vigilantes. But who's behind this new toxin? And a new character pops up, a skimpily dressed woman in bunny ears and tail - time for Batman to follow the White Rabbit; he doesn't want to be late...
The plotting of the book isn't bad, even though there are way too many characters crowding the pages. There are so many cameos from a whole range of the DCU, you'll feel swamped. But the story is fairly interesting and keeps you turning the pages, if only to find out who this White Rabbit character is. Her appearance though is fairly contrived - she is dressed as a lingerie model throughout. There is so much gratuitous T&A in this book purely for the boys to gawp at.
There's a lot of Lewis Carroll/Alice in Wonderland references in Batman generally isn't there? Besides the White Rabbit, writer Joe Harris (who?) pens a one-shot featuring Jervis Tetch aka Mad Hatter and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum as if to hammer home the Wonderland references - to no real effect, other than making the reader wonder why that children's book has such an impact in Batman's world.
Writer Paul Jenkins has real trouble with dialogue and I found his characterisations wildly off. The book starts awkwardly with Bruce Wayne mangling a metaphor of fear and cannibalism that doesn't quite make sense, and from then on I never felt Jenkins had a strong hold on the characters to make them feel like they were who they are. Jim Gordon is good example - he spends most of the book leaving weepy voice messages on Bruce Wayne's mobile, wondering where his pal Batman is. This isn't Gordon's character!
The book rounds out with a one-shot written by Judd Winick. "I Can No Longer Be Broken" is about the Talon from Scott Snyder's "Court of Owls" storyline, giving him a backstory and reminding the reader they'd rather be reading that story arc than this rather lacklustre one about Batman chasing a new strain of venom.
"Knight Terrors" is an entertaining enough story but could've been great with a more competent writer on board (where's Paul Dini in this reboot?) and a weak final act lets the book down. David Finch's art is fantastic as always and for fans of the "Court of Owls" storyline, the book is worth a look for the "Talon" issue, but overall this is an underwhelming start to the new "Dark Knight" series though out of the 3 Batman lines started in the "New 52" it is slightly better than the god-awful "Detective Comics" but nowhere near as good as Snyder/Capullo's "Batman" run.