Comic Vine Review

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Batman: The Dark Knight #16 - Touch of Crazy

3

The Mad Hatter is leaving a trail of bodies with no rhyme or reason and it has Batman stumped.

The Good 

The new series artist is Ethan Van Sciver and I think he's good fit for the title. His work is highly detailed and seeing Batman in action is joyous. His Mad Hatter is... well, mad. The closer looks at his face are pleasantly twisted (distorted teeth and a crooked eye). I also appreciate the unique way they decided to layout the panels for Bruce's conversation with Natalya as she played the piano. It was used a little too much, but credit where it's due. 
  
The issue opens with one heck of a bang. It's an explosive action sequence that feels like it was made just for the big screen. There's plenty of huge panels with some solid impacts and motion (for example, Batman tossing batarangs) and it's a really, really fun scene. It isn't bloody when a man is shot numerous times, but it's quite gruesome when you observe the smaller details (like a finger being blown off). The way Batman saves a hostage is particularly awesome and you can just imagine how that would look if it played out on video. The art team did a great job piecing these moments together and making them feel fluid.

The Bad

This story is being heavily promoted as a unique case for the Mad Hatter, but this issue didn't do anything to grab or shock us. We know he's abducting people, but sadly nothing about it feels drastic or new. This first issue really should have done more with the character to really hit home the point that there's something diabolical around the corner. I mean, a villain killing his own goons is hardly shocking. In fact, I dare to say it's incredibly common. Because of this, I'm not sure why they opted to put such a strong focus on that moment. The way Hatter followed through with it was entertaining and Van Sciver did a great job with the closeups of his face, but it's a weak note to end with.
  
While the scene with the kid is pleasant, it's blatantly stripped from the tunnel moment in The Dark Knight.  It's quite literally the same thing there. A kid pretending to shoot a gun a few times and then boom, an actual explosion and they're amazed by it. Sure, you can view it as nod to the film, but it's seems a bit late for that, doesn't it? I imagine a The Dark knight Rises reference would be more fitting.  
 
Oh, and the GCPD really didn't find that device on the wig? Come on, you don't need to be the world's greatest detective to spot something that obvious.
  
I'm not the biggest fan of how Van Sciver illustrates Wayne's cape. It now looks far more like an actual bat's wings and even looks like there's veins in some of the areas. I know that's hardly a big complaint but it really stood out to me and I prefer the usual look. 

I can't help but wonder when this takes place, too. 'Death of the Family' is impacting all of the Bat books except for this one. It really takes me out of the moment and makes me think about if this whole ordeal comes before Joker's incident or after because Alfred is clearly alive and well.  I know I probably shouldn't think about it and just view it as a self-contained title, but that's tough considering the event has such a widespread impact right now. 
 

The Verdict 

This certainly isn't a bad issue, but it didn't really accomplish anything that makes it stand out from the other Batman titles. Its visuals are good and it's an amusing issue but nothing about this overall plot truly lures you into its world. I'm sure big fans of The Mad Hatter will want to see more, but right now I can't strongly recommend it to everyone else, especially when BATMAN and BATMAN AND ROBIN are both doing a great job with the character.

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xblah_blahx

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Edited By xblah_blahx

The way they were building this up I was expecting a little more. I do like how this bat book is pretty much separate from the rest. I was getting overloaded on Joker. Overall not a bad issue.

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doordoor123

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Edited By doordoor123

I don't like reviews based on "comic logic" so I disagree with your review.

It should be based on story, character, dialogue and art.

"comic logic" like the device in the wig had nothing to do with the issue. Sure, it might be a pet peeve of yours, but how does that have anything to do with the book? I don't think that should be a circumstance to knock a book down.

Just my opinion though; you can do whatever you want.

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jwalser3

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Edited By jwalser3

@Dark_Guyver said:

The way they were building this up I was expecting a little more. I do like how this bat book is pretty much separate from the rest. I was getting overloaded on Joker. Overall not a bad issue.

Same here!

I also like how crazy Mad Hatter looks in this! And that Batarang panel was just perfect.

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k4tzm4n

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Edited By k4tzm4n  Moderator
@doordoor123 said:

I don't like reviews based on "comic logic" so I disagree with your review.

It should be based on story, character, dialogue and art.

"comic logic" like the device in the wig had nothing to do with the issue. Sure, it might be a pet peeve of yours, but how does that have anything to do with the book? I don't think that should be a circumstance to knock a book down.

Just my opinion though; you can do whatever you want.

If something has nothing to do with the issue, then why is it in the issue? The GCPD clearly examined the scene (as visible by it being taped off and even having tabs where each bullet casing it), yet they blatantly left a piece of evidence sitting there or didn't even examine it? You're talking about story and character... so how does Gotham's Police Department not fall into that so they're a part of this fictional world? I don't expect them to be brilliant, but this would be beyond sloppy for them.
 
Additionally, that's what, two lines out of the entire "The Bad" section? That was hardly my key reason for the score, it was just something that I wanted to note.
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k4tzm4n

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Edited By k4tzm4n  Moderator
@jwalser3 said:

@Dark_Guyver said:

The way they were building this up I was expecting a little more. I do like how this bat book is pretty much separate from the rest. I was getting overloaded on Joker. Overall not a bad issue.

Same here!

I also like how crazy Mad Hatter looks in this! And that Batarang panel was just perfect.

Agreed.  The latter almost felt 3D.
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doordoor123

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Edited By doordoor123

@k4tzm4n said:

@doordoor123 said:

I don't like reviews based on "comic logic" so I disagree with your review.

It should be based on story, character, dialogue and art.

"comic logic" like the device in the wig had nothing to do with the issue. Sure, it might be a pet peeve of yours, but how does that have anything to do with the book? I don't think that should be a circumstance to knock a book down.

Just my opinion though; you can do whatever you want.

If something has nothing to do with the issue, then why is it in the issue? The GCPD clearly examined the scene (as visible by it being taped off), yet the blatantly left a piece of evidence sitting there or didn't examine it? You're talking about story and character... how does Gotham's Police Department not fall into that? Additionally, that's what, two lines out of the entire "The Bad" section? That was hardly my key reason for the score, it was just something that I wanted to note.

You aren't commenting on the fact that the device was a plot-point, but that the device was even there and by your rules, the police didn't see it. Your problem with that has nothing to do with the story or the issue overall. It is just something you decided to question. I could question every issue in the same way and say any issue is bad. Even some of the most critically-acclaimed comics.

I wasn't only talking about that though.

"I mean, a villain killing his own goons is hardly shocking. In fact, I dare to say it's incredibly common."

Why do you say that? Because you've seen it time and time again? Name one recent comic where this has happened. This is again based on your own logic.

And this too:

"I can't help but wonder when this takes place, too. 'Death of the Family' is impacting all of the Bat books except for this one. It really takes me out of the moment and makes me think about if this whole ordeal comes before Joker's incident or after because Alfred is clearly alive and well."

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the_stegman

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Edited By the_stegman  Moderator

I'mma stick with this book, I liked the Scarecrow arc.

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k4tzm4n

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Edited By k4tzm4n  Moderator
@doordoor123 said:

@k4tzm4n said:

@doordoor123 said:

I don't like reviews based on "comic logic" so I disagree with your review.

It should be based on story, character, dialogue and art.

"comic logic" like the device in the wig had nothing to do with the issue. Sure, it might be a pet peeve of yours, but how does that have anything to do with the book? I don't think that should be a circumstance to knock a book down.

Just my opinion though; you can do whatever you want.

If something has nothing to do with the issue, then why is it in the issue? The GCPD clearly examined the scene (as visible by it being taped off), yet the blatantly left a piece of evidence sitting there or didn't examine it? You're talking about story and character... how does Gotham's Police Department not fall into that? Additionally, that's what, two lines out of the entire "The Bad" section? That was hardly my key reason for the score, it was just something that I wanted to note.

You aren't commenting on the fact that the device was a plot-point, but that the device was even there and by your rules, the police didn't see it. Your problem with that has nothing to do with the story or the issue overall. It is just something you decided to question. I could question every issue in the same way and say any issue is bad. Even some of the most critically-acclaimed comics.

I wasn't only talking about that though.

"I mean, a villain killing his own goons is hardly shocking. In fact, I dare to say it's incredibly common."

Why do you say that? Because you've seen it time and time again? Name one recent comic where this has happened. This is again based on your own logic.

And this too:

"I can't help but wonder when this takes place, too. 'Death of the Family' is impacting all of the Bat books except for this one. It really takes me out of the moment and makes me think about if this whole ordeal comes before Joker's incident or after because Alfred is clearly alive and well."

 The police obviously didn't see it or they would have taken it back to examine it. The police were obviously there for an extended period of time because, like I've already said, they taped off the area and worked on the scene (they have markers where each bullet casing was).  It's blatantly pointed out in the book that yes, the police where there, and no, they didn't see the important piece of evidence.  If they did, they would take it. That's not "my rules," that's just basic common sense.It's like in the first episode of Arrow where the tracking arrow is right in the wall and even blinking, yet somehow authorities don't discover it. Stuff like that requires too much suspension of disbelief and is worth noting -- or at least I believe it is. 
 
I'm not going to spend my time listing off the times lead villains have killed off a minion in a display of dominance or authority because, frankly, I shouldn't even have to. 
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BatWatch

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Edited By BatWatch

I say Alfred lives. After all, there is something at the end of Teen Titans which indicates that it is not Alfred's head under that platter on any one person's for that matter.

I found this issue to be incredibly boring. Yawn, yawny yawn, yawn. The only cool thing was the Batplane car chase, and the action of that scene was still poorly conveyed (how did the van door get ripped off?) convoluted (if it could blow a hole through metal, wouldn't the blast have seriously injured those inside and lethal. (Bruce crashes his plane and the van into a building causing a fiery inferno?)

The BatWatch Review is up.

@doordoor123:

Katzman is right. You are wrong.

Oh, and recent issues where a villain killed off his or her own thugs, everything Talia has been in recently (which is a lot) and Paragon from Nightwing 12. Oh, also Joker King from Batman Beyond. Oh, and Father Lost in Batwing. Also, Ra's Al Ghul in Legends of the Dark Knight.

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k4tzm4n

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Edited By k4tzm4n  Moderator
@BatWatch said:

I say Alfred lives. After all, there is something at the end of Teen Titans which indicates that it is not Alfred's head under that platter on any one person's for that matter.

I found this issue to be incredibly boring. Yawn, yawny yawn, yawn. The only cool thing was the Batplane car chase, and the action of that scene was still poorly conveyed (how did the van door get ripped off?) convoluted (if it could blow a hole through metal, wouldn't the blast have seriously injured those inside and lethal. (Bruce crashes his plane and the van into a building causing a fiery inferno?)

The BatWatch Review is up.

@doordoor123:

Katzman is right. You are wrong.

Oh, and recent issues where a villain killed off his or her own thugs, everything Talia has been in recently (which is a lot) and Paragon from Nightwing 12. Oh, also Joker King from Batman Beyond. Oh, and Father Lost in Batwing. Also, Ra's Al Ghul in Legends of the Dark Knight.

I haven't read Teen Titans yet.  Hoping to get around to it after this PUNISHER review and updating the Superhero Super Bowl.  Glad to hear it's possibly not Alfred, though.   
 
I was also aleft  bit confused about the door getting blown off and how the explosion didn't hurt people, but I guess those memories eluded my brain while writing the review. It's possible the "Batman save" immediately after won me over.  Happy to know I wasn't alone on that one, though! 
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Edited By MuyJingo

I saw the door of the van being taking off as a pretty simple thing. Van doors often jar out a bit from the van, so as the batplane went by it forced it off...

The crime scene thing was kind of weird....I would guess they had not gotten around to examining the scene entirely yet, after dealing with bodies and such....it's not that much of a problem it took me out of the story...

I think they focused on the killing own goons thing, because it wasn't done in the cliched style of killing an underling to prove a point, which is what Katzman references, but it was done in desperation, to get to Batman.

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k4tzm4n

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Edited By k4tzm4n  Moderator
@MuyJingo said:

I saw the door of the van being taking off as a pretty simple thing. Van doors often jar out a bit from the van, so as the batplane went by it forced it off...

The crime scene thing was kind of weird....I would guess they had not gotten around to examining the scene entirely yet, after dealing with bodies and such....it's not that much of a problem it took me out of the story...

I think they focused on the killing own goons thing, because it wasn't done in the cliched style of killing an underling to prove a point, which is what Katzman references, but it was done in desperation, to get to Batman.

I'm talking about the final scene with Mad Hatter.
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Edited By entropy_aegis

Well I think this was vastly better than the boring Scarecrow arc,but then Hurwitz does start srong only to fizzle out.

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Edited By MuyJingo

@k4tzm4n: Oh, duh...that makes more sense. Not sure why I even considered you meant the bit at the beginning. I still didn't mind that though....just because something is a cliche doesn't mean it's bad, and I liked the way it was done this time.

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@k4tzm4n:

It's probably not Alfred. Also, a new arch just started in The Dark Knight which has Alfred strolling around. Of course, timelines can be all screwed up in comics, but I suspect we will find Alfred is A-Okay at the end of this arch. It never really made much sense to me for it to be Alfred since good stories provide surprises and people have been speculating on Alfred's death since before the arch even started. I guess you could say that the public just guessed Snyder's plans, but it still does not track. Snyder has said he wants the end to be surprising and that Alfred adds a lot to the universe, yet he made Alfred the obvious suspect at the end of the first issue. I'm ninety-five percent sure Alfred will be fine.

The Batman save hurt my head because of all the inconsistencies of the scene, but it was sort of a cool concept.

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k4tzm4n

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Edited By k4tzm4n  Moderator
@MuyJingo said:

@k4tzm4n: Oh, duh...that makes more sense. Not sure why I even considered you meant the bit at the beginning. I still didn't mind that though....just because something is a cliche doesn't mean it's bad, and I liked the way it was done this time.

It's not just a cliche (I even said it's entertaining in the review), it's the fact that this issue ends on that note. Nothing about this issue made me anxious for the next one or had it linger in my memory later on.  This was boosted as being a story we haven't seen before, but nothing about it gives that impression.  Could it change later on? Sure, but it didn't really do anything to drive that point home in this first issue. 
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Edited By KnightofSteel

Great art by Van Sciver, but this issue felt underwhelming to me. Too bad cause Hurwitz was showing promise the past couple of issues. Oh well, I hope it picks up soon as this series started off weak ..hate to see it improve only for a short time then fizzle out again.