Review: The Dark Knight #17

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Sweet Obsession

Yeah, so...here we are again. The Dark Knight may be an awesome movie, but it's a horrible comic. I don't hate this series, but I'm really disappointed in it pretty much every week. Gregg Hurwitz (former writer of Vengeance of the Moon Knight and Penguin: Pride and Prejudice and current writer of The Dark Knight) has failed, as the cheerleaders say, to bring it, and David Finch (former artist for Top Cow's Ascension and The Dark Knight and current artist for Justice League of America and cover artist for Vibe and Katana) has now left the series which means it pretty much has no redeeming factors in my book. I know most people like Ethan Van Sciver, (former artist of Impulse and Superman/Batman and current artist for The Dark Knight) but I don't for some reason, and I have never managed to pinpoint what about his art bugs me. I won't say its bad; it just does not work for me. On the plot front, we have a take on the Mad Hatter which makes him pretty much a sociopathic loon. Jervis Tetch has never been a particularly stimulating villain in my book, and in the last issue, he was portrayed fairly typically except he has a nastier than usual temper what with the gouging out of someone's eyes. He does look wicked creepy for whatever that is worth. I cannot say the cover inspires much confidence. It looks like what I suspect LSD would do to your perceptions of the world. I bet if you took LSD, you could stare at this cover for hours and be entertained.

Images will be added soon.

Well, that's enough stalling. It's time to bite the bullet. Does this issue surprise me with its profound take on The Mad Hatter, or is it just more of the same with a tad more gore?

In this issue, The Mad Hatter moves forwards his plan while remembering his past, and Batman and Commissioner Gordon try to capture the villain.

That Was Not Bad

I'm not ready to give the issue any awards or even my endorsement for the arc as a whole, but this issue was quite enjoyable. It started off really weird making me laugh several times in just the first few pages. I could explain the humorous moments, but that would ruin their poignancy. Let's just say that there were a couple little stabs at established Batman tropes which I enjoyed. Oh, and the actions of the Mad Hatter on page one were absolutely hilarious.

As far as the plot itself, Hatter seems to be building a production, and thought the obvious idea is that he is recreating a scene from Wonderland, I think that perhaps he is actually recreating a scene from his childhood. We get several glimpses of The Mad Hatter's childhood via flashback, and I kept waiting for it to become trite or predictable, but it never did. Granted, there is a big reveal coming which has not yet fully manifested, and that might fit neatly into the trite or predictable box, but just delaying the mystery a little longer was actually nice. We see touching moments from Tetch's childhood, and that is much nicer than cutting straight to the tragedy.

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The setting for the later scene, which I will not divulge, was also pretty cool, and it rather obviously played into The Mad Hatter's theme, but it made for some neat visuals, and I found that I did not dislike Van Sciver's art in this issue. I was not completely in love with it, but it looked nice, and whatever rubbed me the wrong way before seems to have passed. Perhaps I just needed some time to adjust from Finch's amazing visuals.

Typical

Every time I saw The Mad Hatter kill somebody, I mentally rolled my eyes. The whole, “I can't stand to be questioned. I'm crazy and I will kill anyone who stands in my way,” vibe is so stereotypically villainous that I simply cannot take it seriously anymore. There are better ways to show a character is evil than finding inventive ways to kill people. Similarly, the scene at the table was unnecessary. We get it;Hatter is crazy and evil. None of these scenes did anything but hurt the flow of the story in my view.

Also, Tweedledee and Tweedledum have not always been dumb characters, but they seem to be getting stupider with time. Personally, I would like to see them as people with average level intelligences, but here, they are so stupid as to talk like morons and drool on themselves. Do we really need that?

Finally, The Mad Hatter escaped Batman's grasp by having a secret, but this seems like a secret that Batman should know or be able to uncover pretty quickly, so this struck me as a tad off.

The Rescue Scene

This is towards the end of the story, so Spoilers on This Section.

Batman shows up and rescues the unnamed boy from Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and at first I did not understand the specific movements that accompanied the rescue, but I think I figured it out, and I thought I would mention it in case others missed it because it was actually a pretty sweet move. When I first read it, I just gathered that Batman grabs the kid, takes him somewhere else, leaves him, battles the brothers, and then takes the kid to safety in the Bat Plane. What I missed at first is that Bats parks the plane above the kid, swoops down on a line, grabs the kid, and then returns to the plane before swooping down to deal with the brothers. I think it is the portal of light that shines on the kid right before he disappears is the light from the Bat Plane's bottom hatch. Maybe everybody else got that on the first read through and I was being dense, but I thought it deserved a mention.

Conclusion 8/10

This is not a deep issue, but if you are looking for a decent standalone Batman comic with a fun vibe, or you are a big Mad Hatter fan, this issue is a safe purchase. I'm not sure if the rest of the arc will hold up, but this one was a good time which can be enjoyed independently.

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