The Dark Knight #16
Touch of Crazy
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I've been a harsh on Gregg Hurwitz recently, the writer of The Dark Knight. He just concluded his previous arch on the Scarecrow, and though it wasn't awful, it also wasn't good. Apparently, many others share my dislike for the series since not one of twenty people thought he was the best current Batman writer on the BatWatch poll. Still, he has a chance to redeem himself now with his current arch. However, its going to be an uphill battle as he uses the Mad Hatter as the prime villain of the piece, a character some say has never had a good story. Does Hurwitz manage to prove his writing chops by making the Mad Hatter an A-list villain, or is this arch, much like Hatter, difficult to take seriously?
In this issue, Batman attempts to intervene with a rash of kidnappings.
I Don't Even Care
Maybe it is just because I am on testosterone withdraw, (I stopped producing testosterone a year or so ago. Nobody has no idea why, and now I've run out of testosterone ointment for a couple of days. It's a whole thing. Very weird. I'll stop oversharing now) but I just can't make myself give a crap about writing an in depth review of this one. However, I suspect it has less to do with the lack of testosterone and more to do with the lack of issue substance. Truly horrible issues are fun to mock while great issues usually have a lot to unpack, but this is just “meh” through and though.
The basic plot of the arch appears to be that Mad Hatter is kidnapping people who he will no doubt use for some twisted purpose relating to Wonder Land. As with the Scarecrow story, this seems like like a reimagining or expansion of the character than simply a rehash of past stories. The Mad Hatter only has two gimmicks; he can control minds with hats and he is obsessed with Wonderland. This story seems to be relying on those two tropes and nothing else.
There is a very entertaining concept for a set piece chase where Batman takes the Batplane on the streets of Gotham City, and I give Hurwitz big props for that imaginative concept, but I immediately deduct those props for the poor execution as Batman somehow rips the door off of the fan without any apparent action,(Batman is telekinetic now perhaps) explodes part of the fan in a way that would probably kill everybody inside, leaps through the van to rescue a victim, and then plows the Batplane into a building along with the van of bad guys who do not know how to use a break. Presumably, Batman's actions would have killed dozens between the bad guys and the destruction of the building.
(Spoiler) It also appears that the girl rescued by Batman was also being hypnotically controlled based on the hair matching the rescued girl containing a hidden chip. What could possibly be the motivation for faking a kidnapping? That plot element could actually develop into something, or maybe I am misunderstanding the scene.
Ethan Van Sciver
Ethan Van Sciver (former artist for Impulse) takes over the art for this issue, and I have to say, his style is not working for me. I hate to say that because I cannot identify what I dislike; it just rubs me the wrong way somehow. The only specific problem I can point out is that I dislike Batman's cape which, as drawn by Sciver, is much wider and bat like than usual. It does not look right to me, and it would drag on the ground, but that is just a nitpick. It is something about his work in general I do not like, but he definitely has skill, so this is just some odd hangup with me. Most readers might enjoy it.
Sciver did do a really cool layout during a conversation between Bruce and Natalya based off of a piano. Sciver also managed to make The Mad Hatter look truly menacing, so major props for that. The Mad Hatter is not a dude I would want to mess with in this issue.
Say Something Nice
There were some good things in this issue. The dialogue was strong. There was a cute scene featuring a grade schooler that was amusing despite the fact it was ripped off from The Dark Knight movie. The scene between Bruce and Natalya was interesting and could serve as either a conclusion to the relationship between the two or a springboard for something more.
Sadly though, I think that is about all I have to say on the positive side.
There is nothing major wrong with this issue, but it is just so generic. I can't really recommend buying it unless you have some major attachment to The Mad Hatter or some member of the creative team, but you might enjoy reading it in stores.