When I made my list for 2011, I decided to “Write reviews for every book I read, movie I go to, and show I watch.” In hindsight, I’m not sure whether or not I intended to review every book I read. By this, I mean comics. I don’t buy too many comics. I regularly purchase Batman, Batman and Robin, and just started with Batman, Inc. My wife gets the Green Lantern titles. But this week, I had some extra money, so I picked up Batman: The Dark Knight #1. I was excited about this story for two reasons. First, well, it’s Batman. Second, it is by David Finch. This means he wrote AND illustrated the book. I’ve enjoyed David Finch ever since I first saw his work on a few Ultimate X-Men stories back when Brian Bendis was on the title. They later collaborated on The New Avengers when Bendis began his bid to be the new Stan Lee by setting pretty much all of Marvel’s storylines into the next decade. I didn’t follow things very long. I stopped reading Marvel for two reasons. First, I couldn’t afford to follow all the Grant Morrison stuff at DC AND keep getting Marvel titles (Daredevil in particular). Second, The Amazing Spider-Man #545.
Anyway, getting back to Batman before I start my Spider-Man rant, Grant Morrison has been doing some wonderful stuff with Batman. He has shaken up the core of what the title is, and rebuilt it for a new era where international terrorism makes the news more often than the crimes the Caped Crusader has traditionally fought. This new era was set forth in Batman: The Return, in which Bruce Wayne began to investigate international crime organizations while recruiting people to become “Batman” in other countries. Basically, Bruce Wayne is franchising Batman. David Finch provided the art for this story, and it was beautifully dark and gritty. I went in to The Dark Knight #1 expecting the same thing.
I was disappointed.
Finch turns in his normal art, which I said before that I like (and still do), but I was hoping
for something similar to The Return. Art aside, the story was somewhat underwhelming for me. Having recently revisited Grant Morrison’s entire run on the Batman titles, The Dark Knight seems so…pedestrian. Bruce Wayne is investigating the disappearance of Gotham socialite Dawn Golden, a friend (and later ex-lover) who he knew before his parents were murdered. Bruce has put aside his international excursions to investigate her disappearance. For whatever reason, he deems this case worth his attention rather than turn it over to Dick Grayson, who is the current Batman for Gotham City.
Each Batman title seems to be covering a different focus. Batman, Inc. is Bruce Wayne’s international Batman stories. Batman is Dick Grayson as Batman in Gotham. Batman and Robin continues with Dick Grayson as Batman joined by Damien Wayne as Robin. Detective Comics is Dick Grayson acting more as the detective rather than the superhero. Part of me wonders if The Dark Knight is meant to be the title with Bruce Wayne as Batman in Gotham. Looking over the above list, it would seem that the majority of the titles focus on Grayson, so a Bruce Wayne title is needed. Since there was a successful movie in recent history titled The Dark Knight, what better way to capitalize on interest in Bruce Wayne and Batman than to use the same title for a comic. Will this comic have strong ties to the Morrison-driven continuity? Only time will tell. At $3.99 per issue, however, I’m not sure I’ll stick around to find out.