When it comes to someone tackling the duties of both writer and artist, you have to respect whoever even attempts both duties from the outset. For some, those duties at the same time don’t manage to work very well, and for others, it works exceedingly well. Notable tacklers of both duties such as Frank Miller, Jack Kirby, George Perez along with more recent names like Darwyn Cooke, Tony Daniel, and Jeff Lemire have all managed to provide memorable stories while working their butts off in order to make their respective visions see print.
Now, we add renowned comic artist David Finch to that category, as he makes his first foray into both duties with Batman: The Dark Knight. One of the only two ongoing titles to currently feature the Bruce Wayne Batman (the others all feature Dick Grayson in the role), Dark Knight is the title of the original Dark Knight in Gotham City doing what he does best. The Incorporated story that’s going on across most of the Batman line has little to no bearing on this book, and Finch is crafting a Batman story that is very much trying to stand alone.
Finch’s first foray into the world of Batman arrived in comic shops a couple of months ago, when he penciled Grant Morrison’s Batman: The Return one-shot that brought Bruce Wayne back to full-time duty as Batman since his disappearance at the end of Final Crisis (You can check out my Batman-On-Film review of that book HERE). In that book, it was extremely apparent that David Finch’s artistic style fit Batman and his world like a proverbial glove: the darkness, the shadow, the formidable sense of power, and the coordination of deft action were all hyper-emphasized in Finch’s work on that book.
The story here on the art side is no different. Finch and Batman, and especially Gotham City, make it pretty clear that the man’s hands were made to render this character and his world. The level of detail is very, very strong, and it’ll be a great source for Bruce Wayne fans and DC fans to get stories featuring the Dark Knight in his natural environment.
The writing, on the other hand, tells a slightly different story. While it’s not particularly bad, the dialogue in a few places is a bit clunky and there are spots when certain characters just don’t sound right. The pacing is generally good, but the conversational stuff could use a little bit of work. It’s very easy to give the benefit of the doubt here, though, because this is Finch’s first issue as the writer of a very high profile title featuring (arguably) comics’ highest profile character. The stress for creating such a book must be immense, but it sounds as if Finch will have plenty of time to hone the writing side of his work here.
The story presents an interesting perspective of events surrounding some of the higher profile Batman rogues, and the strong artwork definitely make this a title not to miss. Because the artwork is so strong, it tends to distract away from some of the missteps in writing unless you’re specifically looking at that portion of the story. While that’s only a slight hiccup in the overall scheme of things, it’s pretty easy to say that it could go either way, but this first issue is definitely worth a read.
GRADE = B