Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #38

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I Hate It when He Does That...

I greatly enjoyed the last issue of Legends, so lets see what this issue holds in store. This arc is written by Joshua Williamson, former writer of DC's Voodoo and current writer for Monkeybrain's Masks and Mobsters. I can't say that Voodoo inspires much confidence considering it was canceled before it managed much of a run, but Masks and Mobsters sounds really cool for whatever that is worth. The art is handled by Wes Craig. (former artist for the 2008 volume of Guardians of the Galaxy and the '96 volume of Nightwing) Does this team deliver on Batman greatness, or is this a massive disappointment?

In this issue, Commissioner Gordon explains a recent theft to Batman in the present, while in the past, readers are treated to a view of Bruce and Alfred on an adventure where Bruce is still but a young teenager.

Alfred Is Off

I love the concept of this issue. In fact, I love most of the happenings in this issue, but I do not like the delivery.

I love the idea of Bruce and Alfred working together as Bruce trains to become the world's best crime fighter. I believer (and I could be wrong) that generally accepted cannon says Bruce was gone most of his formative years in boarding schools overseas where he trained himself away from Alfred. This has always bugged me for I feel that Alfred needs to be a part of Bruce's life, at least during his teen years, for their father/son bond to truly be established. Having been away from Alfred all that time and then returning and letting him be Bruce's most trusted confidant does not track.

However, I do not believe that Alfred would ever let a young Bruce run over him as he does in this issue. Alfred is letting thirteen year old Bruce go wild through through the streets of Thailand. Also, Alfred seems fully informed about Bruce's intentions to become a crime fighter, and again, I don't think Alfred would have let Bruce do that.

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I know what you are thinking, Alfred allowed the Robins to do that, but that was after Batman already proved that a human superhero could work, Batman sort of adopted the Robins without Alfred's approval (in many cases. It depends on the telling) and the Robins usually knew Batman's secret, so it sort of forced Alfred's hands. Even so, Alfred was reluctant in many tellings of the stories to allow such a young person to fight crime, so do I really think Alfred is going to let his semi-trained, freshly victimized, strangely obsessed charge enter the worst hives of scum and villainy to become a crime fighter? No! No, I do not.

I know this is a different universe, and I do like different interpretations of characters, but this one does not work for me.

Sadly, I have a least one more negative of the issue. The dialogue felt off to me. I can't put my finger one why, but page one struck me as wrong. “The Moon Diamond was one of the Museum's recent additions. Not to mention valuable.” I cannot pinpoint it, but those two sentences just do not feel like they should go back to back. Here is another one. “We just did this a couple days ago. You caught me, and I escaped. Doesn't this bore you?” That just feels wrong to me. None of these lines feel like something people would actually say.

Other Thoughts

On the positive side, the art looks really great. In addition to the pencils from Craig, Lee Loughridge (former colorer for Vertigo's Hellblazer and Batman: Gotham Adventures and current colorer for Vertigo's Fables) does a great job on the colors giving the book a very distinctive feel.

Like I said, I like the concept of this issue, and other than Alfred being too lenient with Bruce, I liked all the stuff that happened in this issue. It was fun other than the dialogue.

Another positive is that we get five extra pages in this issue which is a nice bonus.

Finally, it is painfully obvious that the thief will be the girl from Thailand.

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Conclusion 6/10

I'm being generous for the sake of my general enjoyment of this series, fondness for the basic concept of this arc, and the hope that it will develop nicely. Heck, if this arc will just explain how Bruce randomly disappears as the title kind of implies it will, then that would be worth a couple of points right there. However, the dialogue really hurts this issue, and I feel this is a poor portrayal of Alfred, so I can only suggest this issue for those who are big Legends fans and are not pinching pennies. Oh, and to be clear, this is just the first issue of a three parter, so you might want to wait until the final issue is in.

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Legends of the Dark Knight #38