Saturday, June 22, 2013

Batman: The Dark Knight #3

"Catch Me If You Can"

Paul Jenkins Writer/Co-Plotter
David Finch Penciller/Co-Plotter
Inker: Richard Friend
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Assistant Editor: Rickey Purdin
Editor: Mike Marts
Batman created by Bob Kane

The cover is by David Finch, Richard Friend and Alex Sinclair. It's not a bad image and it does actually portray a scene that happens in the book. I don't like White Rabbit's outfit, but I'll get into that more later. First, a little background for why I'm reviewing this now instead of H'el on Earth.

So I've been trying to review all the Flash appearances in chronological order, but I realized that I have missed a few for several different reasons. First of all, these issues came out long before I started reading the Flash, so my Flash radar didn't alert me to this title. Secondly, the Flash really makes a very brief cameo in these next four issues that feature a ton of different characters, so it was pretty issue to overlook him. And lastly, I never paid much attention to Batman: The Dark Knight because it was pretty dumb-looking.

Now the last complaint may not be entirely fair. Writer Paul Jenkins recently quit DC and gave a very scathing interview complaining about the way DC and Marvel do business. He specifically mentioned his run on Dark Knight and said that after the editors were done with it, the story didn't look anything like what he submitted. So I can't completely blame him for this story being bad. Then again, there's always the chance that Jenkins could be shifting blame for his own failures. I haven't read anything else by him, so I can't really compare. I do know, however, that from that interview, Jenkins complained a lot about having to be constrained to continuity and said DC wouldn't let him write the kind of stories he wanted to. He said his big idea for the Flash would've been to blow off one of his legs and have Barry Allen deal with being a cripple. So there's a good chance that I wouldn't have enjoyed Jenkins' work even if it wasn't heavily edited.

Anyway, Batman: The Dark Knight is difficult to place chronologically and continuity-wise. In fact, most Batman titles have this problem. I've heard many Batman fans struggling mightily to figure out when each of DC's 20 or so Bat-titles take place. I'm not reading any other Bat-titles, so I only have my knowledge of the Flash to go off. Here, the Flash acts like a young, new hero. He makes lots of mistakes and generally does not act like the mature Flash he is in his own book. So I'm going to say this story took place before The Flash #1. It's the only way I can accept his very un-Flash-like behavior. Well, almost accept his behavior. On to the story!

We start with Batman fighting a super-strong Joker on a train. The White Rabbit is also there, and she apparently gave the Joker the drug to make him huge. I guess Batman encountered this in earlier issues, because he warns Joker that the drug quickly wears off and causes its user to bleed from their eyes. Right on cue, this starts to happen to Joker, and Batman reveals that the real Joker is left-handed, making this impostor Clayface.

As the drug wears off, Clayface freaks out, but eventually collapses on top of Batman. White Rabbit then tries to inject the Dark Knight with that serum, but she hears the Flash approaching, so she makes a quick getaway. Flash then bursts into the train rather messily.

Flash tells Batman that he got his distress call 10 minutes ago, and he came as soon as he finished saving a burning building and fighting giant space aliens. Batman asks if he saw a girl running away, but Flash didn't and assumes Batman took one too many hits to the head. Flash then complains that he jammed his thumb breaking through the wall.

Batman takes Clayface to the police, and he threatens a cop to leave him alone. He then goes on a date as Bruce Wayne with a girl named Jai, who acts an awful lot like the White Rabbit. Batman then goes to the Batcave to run some tests on the drug that was given to Clayface. It acts like Scarecrow's toxin, but it takes away fear instead of causing it. It eventually overloads the brain, causing the bleeding eyeballs. The toxin is derived from a very rare plant, so that means Poison Ivy is likely involved. Batman decides to go investigate with the Flash.

The two heroes arrive at Poison Ivy's lab, and Flash quickly pricks his thumb on a thorn. Batman tells him he needs to run to speed up his heart rate so he doesn't metabolize the toxin. Flash apologizes and takes off, while Batman searches for Poison Ivy alone.

The Good:

Nothing really. If there would be one redeeming point to this issue, it would be David Finch's art, which isn't too bad. It isn't that great, though — I was really disappointed with his Clayface. Finch does draw a pretty girl, but I think he enjoys his pretty girls a little too much. White Rabbit's outfit is completely ridiculous. Take away her thigh boots and sleeved gloves, and she's basically wearing a corset and a thong that's way too small to use as underwear or go to the beach in. How is that outfit comfortable? Especially when you're running around fighting Batman! Just ridiculous.

The Bad:

Awful Flash. If this was Bart Allen, I wouldn't be so upset. But this is Barry Allen, and he is acting nothing like the Barry we see in The Flash, or even Justice League. Let's start from the beginning: White Rabbit HEARS him approaching. That should never happen. If Flash is rushing to someone's aid, like Batman's, then the second you hear Flash, he is standing right next to you. You shouldn't have time to recognize the sound, toy with Batman a little bit more, and then get away before Flash shows up. I don't care how fast that train is moving. Next, why did the Flash rip a huge whole through that train? Was he trying to be intimidating? It would've been a lot more intimidating if you just vibrated through the train and got there before the bad guy got away! Then, why are you doubting Batman and complaining about your sprained thumb? Man up, Flash! It's truly remarkable how such a brief scene can have so much wrong with it.

Unoriginal story. I really feel like I've seen this before. Let's see ... Making Joker big and strong was from the video game Arkham Asylum, revealing the Joker to be Clayface was from Arkham City, an anti-fear toxin was from Batman: The Animated Series, and making Flash run to counteract a poison was from the Justice League: Doom movie. Perhaps this was intentional. Perhaps the target audience was 13-year-old boys (hence the pretty girls) who had never read a comic but have played a few games and seen a few movies. I, however, consider comic books to be the source material, and I expect original stories — not a rehashing of notable events. Yes, the White Rabbit is an original character (at least I think so), but she was rather uninteresting and kind of confusing. Maybe her superpower is to avoid the Flash.

Why was the Flash even here? He arrived too late to help Batman fight Clayface and then for no reason, Batman invited him to search for Poison Ivy, which he wasn't even able to do. It would have been nice had they threw in a line about Batman wanting to test the Flash, but we got no such thing. I guess Jenkins and Finch wanted to show how intense this toxin is by making the Flash have to run around the world to get it out of his system. But how did Flash even prick his thumb? Wasn't it established in The Flash #1 that his suit is made of metal? Oh, that's right, Jenkins doesn't care about continuity. But that doesn't excuse him for randomly throwing characters into his story and doing nonsensical things. Like Clayface for instance. Forget why, but how did that toxin affect him? He's made of clay. He shouldn't have blood. Apparently he does. I didn't read the first two issues, so I can't complain about not knowing why Batman was fighting him and White Rabbit on a train. I'll begrudgingly let that one go.

Well, I hated this issue, but it wasn't completely unbearable. I wouldn't recommend picking this up, though. A lot of Flashpoint fans may be intrigued about Flash teaming up with Batman again, but sadly this is not the Flash-Batman team-up we deserve.

Final score: 2 out of 10.

Next: Where have all the flowers gone?

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