Monday, June 24, 2013

Batman: The Dark Knight #4

"Welcome to the Jungle"

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. Just like the last cover, this directly shows a scene from the issue. But also just like the last cover, we quickly find out that this scene doesn't matter too much. However, the image is pretty straightforward and kind of exciting.

Our story begins with Batman investigating Poison Ivy's lab. It appears there was a recent fight there, suggesting that Ivy may have been kidnapped. Suddenly, Batman is attacked by some giant vines.

The Dark Knight easily escapes the plants and then contacts Wonder Woman. The mighty Amazon, however, is unable to assist Batman, as she's busy tracking down Spellbinder and the Electrocutioner, who recently escaped from Arkham Asylum. Batman decides to continue to work his case alone, and searches Poison Ivy's lab for clues. He eventually finds a paper with a strange code on it.

Meanwhile, Jim Gordon tries to call Bruce Wayne and seems pathologically depressed when he doesn't answer.

Batman returns to the Batcave to crack Ivy's code, while Alfred serves him an ice cream cone. Apparently Alfred has ice cream all the time to help him concentrate. Batman cracks the code, which gives him access to a bio-electronic relay system, which he in turn uses to pinpoint Poison Ivy's chloro-pheromone signal on Harmon Island. So Batman takes off in the Bat-plane with his ice cream cone. As he flies toward the island, he worries about letting down his friends, like Alfred, Gordon, his new girlfriend, Jai, and the Flash.

The White Rabbit spotted the Bat-plane as it was taking off, and she may be responsible for the strange events that follow. First, Batman discovers a small present on the plane. He opens it to reveal a little green bottle, possibly an antidote. But before he can run it through his computer, he is attacked by Deathstroke. Batman realizes he is supercharged from the same drug that Two-Face was on (in issue #2, I guess) and Clayface. Deathstroke rips Batman out of the plane and tells him that he isn't working for anyone, but just really wanted to kill Batman. He then cuts the Bat-plane in half, just as Batman makes a narrow escape. He lands safely on the island and makes his way toward a run-down shack. Inside, he meets the Scarecrow.

The Good:

Nothing really. The art was decent, but nothing special. The story, itself, was seriously flawed.

The Bad:

No Flash. This is a Flash blog, so when we only get one panel of him, I'm going to hold it against the issue. Here, we only got a brief reminder that Flash is running nonstop for his life, which leads me into my next point.

Weird Wonder Woman appearance. Since Batman just sent Flash out on an endless run, he decided to try to get some extra help, which I think is a good idea. He can only get in touch with Wonder Woman, who basically just says, "You're on your own because I'm busy fighting your bad guys." Batman immediately agrees with her and decides to try to help Flash by himself. Um, doesn't Batman have tons more allies he can contact, like Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin, Catwoman, Red Hood and probably anybody else from DC? I mean, the Flash is dying! Get some help! Even if he couldn't have gotten anybody else there quick enough, it would have been nice to see him at least try.

Randomness bordering on the bizarre. I feel like there were a lot of things thrown in here just because the creators wanted to see them, regardless of how they fit with the story. First there was the obligatory and inconsequential plant attack in Poison Ivy's lab, even though Ivy herself wasn't present. Then there was Jim Gordon drinking his sorrows away because one of the richest, most powerful men in the world wouldn't answer a phone call. Then we had Alfred enter the Batcave with two ice cream cones in his hand. And then Deathstroke literally showing up out of nowhere for no reason. He lands on top of the Bat-plane, which at that point was at 4,000 feet in the air, then he cuts the plane in half with his sword. I don't care how strong that toxin made him, he should not be able to accomplish such a feat.

So much stuff in this issue makes you yell, "What?!" and "Why?!" Overall, it is quite dumb, but not overly painful. Possibly because this is still in the middle of the story, and there is a lingering sense of hope that things will resolve in the end. Also, there is always a fundamental aspect of excitement whenever Batman's villains start teaming up, no matter how poorly executed the story may be.

Final score: 2 out of 10

Next time: According to my research, the Flash doesn't appear in Batman: The Dark Knight #5, and I'm not quite willing to spend $2 on that yet. So, from what I've heard, Batman fights Scarecrow and gets doused with the toxin, but Superman shows up in time to save the day. Flash returns to the story in issue #6.

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