Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Vol. 4

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Vol. 4Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Vol. 4 by Charles Soule
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Definitely not required reading.
Legends of the Dark Knight 4 is just a mish-mosh of Batman tales by different authors. A few are decent, some are just trippy, and a few downright suck.
But none of them are great.

I Hate it When He Does That tells how (a much too) young Bruce Wayne learns the art of fading into the shadows. He and Alfred find a girl in Thailand, help rescue her from corrupt government official, and she teaches him the Ways of the Force.
Why did Alfred ever agree to any of this bullshit? Toss that kid on a plane, and get the hell out of that cesspool!

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Riddler in the Dark is a decent story by Charles Soule. Unsurprisingly, Soule has written one of the better issues.
Riddler needs Batman to help him, but just can’t bring himself to ask the nice way.

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The Pain Cellar is about a childhood memory of Bruce’s that resurfaces, Arm Candy is about another new girlfriend, and The Notebook is about a reporter who’s shadowing Bruce for the day.
All of these are written by Frank Hannah, only a few pages long, and all make one (issue?) interconnecting story arc together.

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The Beautiful Ugly is a dark and depressing Two-Face story.
No redemption for you! <—That was me doing my Soup Nazi voice, btw.

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Review: Batman, Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo (Illustrations)

Batman, Vol. 6: Graveyard ShiftBatman, Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift by Scott Snyder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I would have preferred a long story arc, but dreams don’t always come true. This is a bunch of leftover stories from random times and places.
Yeah, I know Suck it up, Buttercup!
I will say that they were all consistently good, even if the timelines were all over the map.

It starts off with a prequel to Zero Year that was maybe not necessary, but interesting anyway. It showed Bruce trying to clean up the city before he put on the mask.

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Also included was a look at Tim, Jason, Dick, & Barbara’s first peek at the Batsymbol in the sky, which coincided with (varying degrees of) turning points in their lives.

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Harper (Bluebird) and her brother Cullen feature in this one twice. The first time Harper is determined to help Batman deal with his rage after Damien’s death.

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I’m not sure how much I’m actually enjoying this Death of Damien storyline. It rankles my nerves a bit, and I wish they’d just dip his ass in a Lazarus pit already and be done with it. It’s a personal preference, but I just don’t like watching the writers try to decide how Batman should act while in the throes of grief over his dead child.
There was this story on the news the other day about this woman who lost everything because she started smoking crack. Turns out, her kid had died a few years beforehand. Now, I don’t think smoking crack is a good idea under any circumstances, but she gets a pass in my book. If there was ever one excuse to be a crackhead, that’s the one.
My point is, I just don’t enjoy the dead kid angle. I believe the writers are trying to convey Bruce’s deep emotions, but (to me) it feels hollow and cheap.
And the longer it drags out, the more annoyed I get.

Love this piece of art, though.
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In the issue called Ghost Lights, Superman pops in to check on Bruce, and they end up taking on an evil spirit who has been summoned by some stupid kids.

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I enjoyed the Superman/Batman team-up. Always nice to see those two together!

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Clayface shows up in this sucker and makes quite an impression. Snyder played up how dangerous a villain he could be if he totally went off the rails.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story!

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The story set in Arkham with the character
Anchoress
was a bit of an iffy one for me. It was different enough to keep me interested, though.
It’s basically a tale about a not-bad-but-bad-anyway nutter in the loony bin.

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Creepy serial killer tale ahead! Unless it somehow plays into the Joker mythos, this one is a throwaway. Again, not bad storytelling, but I’m burned out on the subject matter. I simply prefer Batman to take on ‘villains’ and not real-life psychos.
*shrugs*

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The last one is a tie-in with the Batman Eternal stuff.
Spoiler below!

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Get it?! Spoiler?
{insert knee-slapping here}
Hyuck, hyuck!

*cough*
Yes, so…anyway. It’s a random collection of stories, but it’s a solid random collection of stories. I think this volume is a nice addition to Snyder’s Batman run.

Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a digital copy to read and review.

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Review: The Dark Knight Vol. 4 – Clay; by Gregg Hurwitz (end of series)

Batman: The Dark Knight, Vol. 4: ClayBatman: The Dark Knight, Vol. 4: Clay by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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This book is choc-full of evil villains. (It’s BATMAN! Duh…)

So anyhow, The Dark Knight has been one of the 4 main Batman titles, (Batman, Detective Comics, Batman and Robin) yet it’s probably the least known one. It made the mistake of having Gregg Hurwitz not write the first volume, he just drew it. Once he took over, things got better. Most of the Dark Knight seems to focus on villains and their origins (Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and this one…Clayface) and that’s a cool thing to do when Joker and Riddler (and Penguin to a lesser extent) dominate the rest of the Bat world.

I’m happy to see they’ve decided to go with the “original” Clayface, Basil Karlo, a very plain man who wanted to be an actor, but just didn’t have “it” to get noticed. Eventually he goes to Penguin to get help, and Penguin gives him some native thingy that turns his face to clay like malleability, so he can be a great facial actor. He in turn ends up doing things for Penguin, but things go wrong and he soon becomes all clay, but can become anyone he touches.

We see here that he’s taken as a very dangerous, almost invulnerable force. Arkham needs a special containment unit for him. We also see that he needs people to like him, as he stays calm in Arkham because his neighbour in the cells is a fan and they talk…only when he dies does Clayface go nuts. He takes it to another level, going after Penguin and taking him out, then seeks out the Joker to give him some Joker Gas/Serum. He then rampages thru town and takes people hostage to get an audience who he pumps full of Joker toxin so they laugh at his work non-stop.

What’s different here, is that Batman is written with just the slightest sense of humour…he and Alfred trade wits and barbs, and he even jokes around with Gordon (announces his arrival before he scares the shit out of Gordon in the dark.) The best part is when Clayface impersonates Gordon at the start of the book and kills a bunch of people…then later on, Gordon uses the Bat Signal, Batman appears and bitchslaps him…(sorry Jim, just had to make sure it was you)….HAHAHA effective but funny.

In addition, Batman actually listens to Alfred who tells him to get some help, and we get brief appearances of Black Canary and Condor (who? ya, no, this guy looks like a twat). Eventually Clayface is secured, and the sad chapter closes.

The next 2 books arc is called Voiceless, and is done entirely without dialogue. Alberto Ponticelli takes over the art here from Alex Maleev (who did a very good job with the Clayface arc, very dark muted tones and great use of browns). Alberto does different work, with good facial and body language artwork, but his is even more important in a wordless story.
The story is about a family of Mexicans, the mother works in a sweatshop, and when she accidentally breaks one of the angel figures she’s making, she is fired on the spot. She goes home and her young son is quite ill, she runs to the drugstore, which is closed, offers all her money to the pharmacist, who just drives off…you can figure out what happens next, since this is Batman…
They see advertisments for Gotham, and get into trucks to go there, but are separated. (Granny and young daughter in one, mom in the other) The Daughter and Granny are working in a Gotham sweatshop making Christmas ornaments, when Granny sees that granddaughter is alive, she decides to break out…but one of the captors sees her sneaking out a window, and well…that’s that.
Batman comes upon Granny’s body, and the art on this page is superb.

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It gets down to the very essence of what Batman is all about, and even now, looking at it for like the 10th time in the last 18hrs, the raw emotions just hit me very hard.

Well, long story short, Batman kicks the everloving shit out of the sweatshop folks, who of course, report to the Penguin…he rescues mom, has her reunite with the daughter in the hospital (cue more tears, Anne, you better take a box of hankies) and then throws down furious vengeance. Because this is still Batman, we see the Penguin get out of jail due to his many lawyers. Wayne Enterprises attempts to employ many of the workers, and we see the mother has a job there, as Bruce Wayne walks by and smiles at her in one panel.

The last page has Batman checking in on the family, and he smiles and waves to the little girl who waves back to him, then we see the final image…the broken angel on top of the Christmas tree, made up to look like Batman.

The final story is about the evilest villain of all: Abraham Langstrom, father of Kirk Langstrom, and new Man-Bat. Langstrom Senior is a corporate raider, who buys up companies and strips them for parts in a very ruthless manner, we also see that he owns pharmaceuticals and has no problem sending defective medicine to Africa to be used there because “It’s Africa.”. Yup, easy to dislike him. We also see he’s bullied his son, and is obsessed with being the Man-Bat and feasting on Flesh…well there’s a showdown with Batman of course, and the manner in which Batman takes him out eventually is draining…
(And thankfully, even in the midst of this, there’s a couple of jokes! Alfred makes fun of Bruce for saying Ouch while getting stitched up, and Gordon tells Batman people need to stop “Vigilante-ING” to which Bats replies “I don’t think that’s a verb”).

So all in all, a strong collection of 3 different stories, all relating to Batman, and giving us a nice connection to him and deeper understanding, all without extremely long and drawn out storylines. The Dark Knight is a great title to read if you like Batman but only want to dabble, or you want to jump in somewhere.

Sadly, this last volume marks the end of the series…I suppose it wasn’t feasible to carry this many Bat-titles, so we should be glad that this was around while it was. It’s also easy enough to read through separate from the major storylines, and good for filling your Bat-diction.


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