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Comic Review: Batman: The Dark Knight #16

Batman: The Dark Knight #16 Ethan Van Sciver Gregg Hurwitz New 52

New artist.

New villian.

Same writer.

More problems.

Batman: The Dark Knight #16 is overwhelmingly flat in every way, as Gregg Hurwitz fails to build any measure of excitement or anticipation with the opening of his Mad Hatter storyline, and Ethan Van Sciver’s debut fails to impress.

In fact, Van Sciver’s only unique addition is an annoying stylistic change to Batman’s cape. Van Sciver has transformed it into something more like real wings, complete with ridges and hooks that look okay in some cases, but downright silly and awkward in others.

Van Sciver’s strongest moment is, coincidentally, Gregg Hurwitz’s weakest. Bruce and his Ukranian girlfriend Natalya part ways over a piano in Wayne Manor, and Van Sciver artfully arranges the panels to look like whitewashed piano keys. The scene looks beautiful, but sounds like a cat is rolling over the keys because Hurwitz’s dialogue is so poor.

After giving Bruce a nice tender moment with Natalya in issue #15, Hurwitz suddenly transforms her into a thoroughly unlikeable, self-important whiner and cliche Eastern European girl before marching her (mercifully) out of Bruce’s life.

The breakup is, quite honestly, the most memorable section of the comic. The rest is typical Mad Hatter fare: mind-controlled goons are abducting people across the city, and Batman is left struggling to find what connects their disappearances.

B-list villains like the Mad Hatter can be fertile ground for new, inventive writing, but they can also be a tired amalgam of cliches and unoriginal ideas. Sadly, Hurwitz seems firmly planted in the latter approach to the character. His Hatter is an irritating, cockeyed little troll made all the more annoying by the fact he needs a stepladder to get up in people’s faces. As ever, Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum are in tow, and mind control hats abound.

After reading the first issue in this new arc, the direction for Batman: The Dark Knight is certainly clear.

This baby’s going nowhere but down.

5 out of 10

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