Oh the Humanity!
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Due to a time crunch (I only have about an hour to write this), a personal crisis, (my girlfriend's best friend is terminal with brain cancer. Prayers would be appreciated) and a general sense of apathy, this will probably be the most poorly written and least though out of all my commentaries. Luckily, my main though it pretty simple; The Dark Knight series, taken as a whole, is awful.
Just looking at the DCNU run, Batman has been great, Batman, Incorporated has also done really well, Detective Comics is blooming beautifully under Layman's care, but The Dark Knight is just plain bad.
David Finch took the writing reigns on The Dark Knight's astoundingly stupid first arch. Now, David Finch is also responsible for the art, and in the art department, he can hold his own with the very best artists on the market as far as I am concerned, but in the the writing, not so much. Paul Jenkins (former writer of Hellblazer) plays second fiddle to Finch in the writing department, so I do not know how much of this travesty can be pinned on him, but if it was my work, I would be ashamed to put my name on it.
What's so bad about it? Everything except the art. The story (and I use the term loosely) is based around The White Rabbit, a speedster lingerie model who plagues Batman by amping up various villains on some sort of Venom like substance. The plethora of villains get superpowered, act like morons, and then kick Batman's butt until they either run out of juice or are taken out by a guest appearance from the Justice League.
Layered on top of this are various subplots all of which are as shallow as the central premise. Batman fights Superman in a Venom fueled slug fest which is less interesting then watching a turtle wrestling contest. Flash gets poisoned and has to outrun the effect in a scene that has all the tension of broken rubber band. Bane ends up being the bad guy who was testing something or plotting revenge or something else so stereotypically villainous that my brain has blocked it out.
The White Rabbit
Even worse than the world's greatest detective being unable to win a fight or figure out that the person with a huge supply of venom is Bane is the convoluted brain melting White Rabbit aspect of the story. In a play that was old in the seventies, Finch introduces a new female love interest, Jaina, for Bruce Wayne at exactly the same time as the villainous seductress White Rabbit pops up. Could these two events be linked? Of course they are, but wait, Bruce is with Jaina when the White Rabbit is spotted therefore it must be someone else.
Just to flip the bird at every fan who actually made the mistake of caring about this mystery, Finch and Jenkins resolve the mystery by showing that in addition to being able to move at super speeds while magically retaining minuscule amounts of clothing, White Rabbit has the power to split herself into two equally annoying and irrelevant people.
White Rabbit managed to fool the Dark Knight through plot convenient powers, but we all know Batman always takes down his target, so it was with eagerness that I read the next issue after her escape which featured White Rabbit displayed on the cover only to see to my ever increasing frustration that White Rabbit was nowhere to be found in the issues' pages. In fact, she has not been seen since she fooled Bruce underscoring just how pointless her character truly was.
Also, just look at that picture. I am genuinely embarrassed to put this on my site, and I usually avoid such images, but it is too helpful in making the case that this series has been completely soulless and exploitative of the basest aspects of comic books.
Night of the Owls
This leg of the travesty was handled by Joe Harris, the former writer of Marvel's Slingers and DC's The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men.
Hope bloomed in my little heart when I saw that Red Robin was on the cover of The Dark Knight number nine. Tim had been far removed from the Bat Family, so I was looking forward to some old school Tim Drake action and Bruce/Tim partnering. However, The Dark Knight said, “Screw you!” once more by barely giving Tim Drake an appearance in the issue and nothing whatsoever of significance. Fool me once, Dark Knight...
Finally, we get to the arch written by Gregg Hurwitz (former writer of Vengeance of the Moon Knight) which has just concluded and featured Scarecrow. In comparison to the previous archs, this is Shakespeare, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. At first, it seemed like this arch might be going somewhere new and interesting, but it soon devolved into the same old same old. Scarecrow got the drop on Batman and began to expose Bruce to Fear Toxin. Wait, I thought Bruce had immunity to fear toxin? He does, but this isSuperToxin. Oooh, well played Dark Knight. Didn't see that one coming.
Bruce experiences pain, Crane is crazy, and it's pretty much rinse and repeat for two whole issues of torture. A few revelations about Bruce and Crane's pasts are made, but they hardly make up for the agonizingly slow pacing.
When Bruce finally breaks free, the master of a million martial arts throws himself on Scarecrow's scythe then shoots a bat line through Crane's jaw before crawling out of the house and leaving the kidnapped girl to die in the explosion caused by a gas leak. Luckily for Bruce's conscience, Scarecrow decided he will pick up Batman's slack and selflessly free the girl. As if realizing he is acting out of character and trying to make up for it, Crane takes a blimp and sprays the whole town with Fear Toxin. (or is it Super Toxin?) When Batman, amazingly recovered from his injuries after twenty seconds of rest, has a final confrontation with Crane, Crane simply accepts defeat and does not put up a fight. Boy! I'm sure glad they avoided a cool action scene because you know how we comic fans hate those!
The Worst Is Yet To Come?
The next arch for The Dark Knight is a reboot of a classic character, The Mad Hatter, but it is being written by the same guy who brought us the overly long and uninspired Scarecrow arch, Gregg Hurwitz, so how good can it be? Furthermore, David Finch has stopped doing the art on the book which has been the only thing consistently good about this series. Luckily, Finch is being replaced by Ethan Van Sciver (former artist on Impulse and Firestorm: The Nuclear Men) who appears to have the skills to fill Finch's shoes pretty well. Still, it's hard to get excited about a new arch with The Dark Knight's lousy track record.