A Welcome Change, “Batman: The Dark Knight #10” Review
Issues one through nine of the Batman: The Dark Knight ongoing series left something to be desired. However, issue ten is a welcomed change of pace for the series. Issue ten marks a creative change in the series with David Finch reducing his workload by solely handling the art duties on the book. Veteran crime writer Gregg Hurwitz; whose previous comic book exploits include work on The Punisher Max, Wolverine, Foolkiller Max, The Vengeance of the Moon Knight, and Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, joins David Finch as the regular series writer. “Batman: The Dark Knight #10,” with some out-of-place scenes, morphs the book into something implied by the series’ title, a dark and fairly disturbing Batman series.
“Batman: The Dark Knight #10” chills the reader from page one. The book opens with an unknown, but obviously psychotic man, sowing his mouth shut, though the psychopath can still speak. The unknown man then gases a young girl, Clair, with what appears to be something similar to Scarecrow’s fear gas. The book then cuts to the first of two out-of-place scenes focusing on Bruce with his current girlfriend, a Ukrainian pianist named Natalya. Bruce is called away by Alfred to help Jim Gordon retrieve Clair. A thug, who is paid by someone he refers to as “The Hollow Man,” deposits Clair at his specified location only to be kicked through a car window by The Dark Knight himself. The unnamed thug then claims police brutality, at which point Batman explains that it is actually vigilante brutality and invites the thug to sue him. Batman then climbs a building to see Clair, currently in Gotham Protective Services. Clair, either due to brainwashing or shock, does not respond to Batman at all. Batman, with his soft spot for abused and wayward children, decides to sit with Clair for a short time. The issue then moves to the Batcave in which Batman interacts with his biological son. Damian informs his father that he wants to be a better person. Batman, however, is not listening and Damian storms away. The story then shifts to Jim Gordon for most of the remaining pages, the plot is interrupted with another unneeded scene detailing dialogue between Bruce and Natalya. Gordon, upon his return home, is doused with fear gas by “The Hollow Man.” In his fear induced state Gordon experiences visions of his two children. These visions play on one of Jim Gordon’s deepest fears, that he failed his son and daughter. The last panel of issue ten reveals “The Hollow Man” as the classic Batman villain the Scarecrow, who promises Jim Gordon that they are just beginning.
“Batman: The Dark Knight #10” is a disquieting read as it focuses on crimes towards children, which Batman takes more seriously than most offensives. The issue especially shines in the opening pages, the scene with Batman and Clair, and in the fear gas induced visions of Jim Gordon. Furthermore, the scene in the Batcave with Damian makes the reader question Bruce Wayne’s emotional health even further, Bruce will sit with a child he does not know in Clair, but ignores his own son. Issue ten of Batman: The Dark Knight centers on fear and various characters’ views in regard to children, both their own children and children who have been made victims to Gotham’s psychotic element. The series had a very slow start in issue one to nine, but it seems to be heading in a very interesting direction starting with issue ten. It appears that Gregg Hurwitz, a seasoned crime writer, will be refurbishing the Scarecrow with an even more disturbing version than previously seen in DC Comics.
The only problems with the issue are the two Natalya scenes. The dialogue seems out-of-place for an otherwise dark book. Moreover, the relationship between Bruce and Natalya is not what is typically found in the pages of any given Bat book. Bruce usually gravitates to women who are little off their rockers, as Bruce is not the picture of mental health himself. Batman’s previous relationships with women such as Catwoman, Talia Al Ghul, or even Vicki Vale seem to fit with the type of woman Bruce Wayne/Batman would be interested in pursuing. In short, Natalya is too normal for Bruce. The two out place scenes are not necessarily Gregg Hurwitz’s fault, as he was saddled with this relationship by the previous writer. The panels with Bruce and Natalya leave the reader with a stale and out-of-place feeling. Simply put, the two scenes with Natalya provide nothing more than a disruption to an otherwise excellent issue. Perhaps, the character of Natalya will become to Batman what Karen Page is to Daredevil or Gwen Stacy is to Spider-Man. Outside of that, there is not much use for the character or the relationship.
David Finch’s art in “Batman: The Dark Knight #10” is truly amazing, as we have come to expect from Mr. Finch. Though his writing was less than stellar on previous issues of the series, fans will be delighted that he retained the art responsibilities on the title, his art was never lacking. Finch captures the dark and disconcerting feel of Hurwitz’s script perfectly, especially in the opening pages and the hallucinations of Jim Gordon. Finch’s style is impeccably suited for this type of Batman story. Moreover, Finch seems to have been teamed with a writer that will facilitate his grim art. The dark art of David Finch, as previously seen over at Marvel in 2006-2007 Moon Knight title, soars to an elite level, with some panels truly terrifying the reader. Hopefully, Finch will stay as the regular artist on the series with Gregg Hurwitz at the writing helm. Side note, I had the pleasure of meeting David Finch at the 2008 Wizard World: Los Angeles. Mr. Finch was very approachable and friendly, he signed multiple issues of New Avengers and Moon Knight for me that day. It is always nice to see a talented artist and celebrity who has remained grounded and treats his/her fans pleasantly.
“Batman: The Dark Knight #10” turns the previously deficient ongoing series into its original intention, a dark and somewhat horror driven Batman book. The introduction of a revamped Scarecrow leaves the reader wanting issue eleven immediately, something the previous nine issues failed in grossly. Hopefully, the creative team of Gregg Hurwitz and David Finch will remain on the title for many issues to come.
Mr. Z’s Verdict