Overview

Batman: Dark Detective #1

Review

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Batman: Dark Detective #1

Credits

  • Words: Steve Englehart
  • Art: Marshall Rogers
  • Inks: Terry Austin
  • Colors: Chris Chuckry
  • Story Title: Some Enchanted Evening
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: May 4, 2005

The famed Bat-team of Engleheart, Rogers, and Austin returns to Gotham City to tell a new Batman tale and it appears they’ll be pulling out all the stops.

The creative team for this book originally teamed up to tackle Batman in issues 471-476 of Detective Comics (a run now known as Strange Apparitions or  Dark Detective I) to deliver what is considered a landmark and defining run in the Batman mythos. Following their famous predecessors of O’Neil and Adams, they kept the themes dark and exciting. Considered major influences of Batman: The Animated Series (and most of the stories in their six issues together were directly translated to the small screen), it could be argued that much of the modern Batman was defined by these creators; and they come back now, years later, to put together a semblance of a sequel.

Now, having said that, no one should be scared away if they’ve never read the original stories. Aside from seeing them in The Animated Series, Englehart does a very good job of recapping important scenes from the past in here. In this first issue, we catch up with Batman, years after the events of the original saga, as he attends a fundraiser for a gubernatorial candidate. Little does he know that the fiancé and campaign manager of said candidate is his former lady love, Silver St. Cloud. So here we get Bruce Wayne and Silver seeing each other for the first time in years, figuring out how to deal with old feelings. That is, until the Joker shows up. Because we know that an Englehart and Rogers Batman story is nothing without the Joker. And as the cover insinuates, he has one crazy plan up his sleeve.

Honestly, with this book, it feels like Steve Englehart never even left Batman. His writing is concise and his pacing is quick. The dialogue of Batman, Bruce Wayne, Silver and everyone else remains solid and true. He never bogs down the pages with too many words and keeps everything moving. For those who haven’t read the old run, he recaps two important scenes from them (in fact, they’re lifted directly from the old issues panel for panel) to keep everyone up to date. Even better, he gets that out of the way early and moves quickly into the bulk of the book. The book’s writing walks a fine line between nostalgic corniness and modern day styles, and does so with great success. But the real star of the book is Englehart’s Joker. Under his pen, the Joker truly became the maniacal psychopath we know him to be today and it is with that same personality that the Joker shows up here.

Similarly, it almost seems as if Marshall Rogers never left Gotham City either. His panel design is good, and he matches the pacing of the book spectacularly. His work is never overly detailed, and he sometimes even drops backgrounds completely from the panels, but every time he does so it just proves to highlight the characters there even more. He draws his characters with an almost cartoonist pen, yet they all still come off as believable. And his action scenes certainly do shine. One particular between the Batman and Joker is something that every artist should study, because somehow he manages to draw a fight scene on top of a moving elevator that is absolutely astounding. If there were one complaint about the artwork, it would be with the coloring. The older series was very darkly colored; this one seems a little brighter and a lot cleaner. Whereas the writing and artwork capture the nostalgic feel of the old run, the coloring feels a little empty.

This is a book that needs to be read by anyone who is or ever was a Batman fan. Even if you don’t read the regular series, this story does not seem to exist in present day continuity, so you won’t feel lost at all. And I will say, that despite the glowing nature of this review, perhaps the best part of the book was looking at the credits and seeing the following…

"Julie Schwartz – Editor Eternally Emeritus."

-Sam Moyerman

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