Batman: The Dark Knight #16

#1 Posted by k4tzm4n (44493 posts) - - Show Bio

The Good 

The new series artist is Ethan Van Sciver and I think he's good fit for the title. His work is highly detailed and seeing Batman in action is joyous. His Mad Hatter is... well, mad. The closer looks at his face are pleasantly twisted (distorted teeth and a crooked eye). I also appreciate the unique way they decided to layout the panels for Bruce's conversation with Natalya as she played the piano. It was used a little too much, but credit where it's due. 
  
The issue opens with one heck of a bang. It's an explosive action sequence that feels like it was made just for the big screen. There's plenty of huge panels with some solid impacts and motion (for example, Batman tossing batarangs) and it's a really, really fun scene. It isn't bloody when a man is shot numerous times, but it's quite gruesome when you observe the smaller details (like a finger being blown off). The way Batman saves a hostage is particularly awesome and you can just imagine how that would look if it played out on video. The art team did a great job piecing these moments together and making them feel fluid.

The Bad

This story is being heavily promoted as a unique case for the Mad Hatter, but this issue didn't do anything to grab or shock us. We know he's abducting people, but sadly nothing about it feels drastic or new. This first issue really should have done more with the character to really hit home the point that there's something diabolical around the corner. I mean, a villain killing his own goons is hardly shocking. In fact, I dare to say it's incredibly common. Because of this, I'm not sure why they opted to put such a strong focus on that moment. The way Hatter followed through with it was entertaining and Van Sciver did a great job with the closeups of his face, but it's a weak note to end with.
  
While the scene with the kid is pleasant, it's blatantly stripped from the tunnel moment in The Dark Knight.  It's quite literally the same thing there. A kid pretending to shoot a gun a few times and then boom, an actual explosion and they're amazed by it. Sure, you can view it as nod to the film, but it's seems a bit late for that, doesn't it? I imagine a The Dark knight Rises reference would be more fitting.  
 
Oh, and the GCPD really didn't find that device on the wig? Come on, you don't need to be the world's greatest detective to spot something that obvious.
  
I'm not the biggest fan of how Van Sciver illustrates Wayne's cape. It now looks far more like an actual bat's wings and even looks like there's veins in some of the areas. I know that's hardly a big complaint but it really stood out to me and I prefer the usual look. 

I can't help but wonder when this takes place, too. 'Death of the Family' is impacting all of the Bat books except for this one. It really takes me out of the moment and makes me think about if this whole ordeal comes before Joker's incident or after because Alfred is clearly alive and well.  I know I probably shouldn't think about it and just view it as a self-contained title, but that's tough considering the event has such a widespread impact right now. 
 

The Verdict 

This certainly isn't a bad issue, but it didn't really accomplish anything that makes it stand out from the other Batman titles. Its visuals are good and it's an amusing issue but nothing about this overall plot truly lures you into its world. I'm sure big fans of The Mad Hatter will want to see more, but right now I can't strongly recommend it to everyone else, especially when BATMAN and BATMAN AND ROBIN are both doing a great job with the character.
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