Review: Batman: Dark Age #1

Batman: Dark Age #1
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Michael Allred
Color Artist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Review by Carl Bryan

Welcome to Batman: Dark Age #1. Meet Bruce Wayne, Gotham’s favorite delinquent son. In an origin story like no other, witness the boy become a dark knight shaped by a city in turmoil as it marches towards its prophesied doom.

Set against the backdrop of actual historical events, Gotham comes alive, filled with iconic characters who have loved and hated Batman over the years like you’ve never seen them before. Spinning out of the Eisner-nominated Superman: Space Age, Mark Russell, and Mike Allred return to give audiences a look at Batman as a figure in American history fighting for justice in a world gone mad.

Dad…we don’t live in Gotham – Bruce Wayne

No we don’t live in Gotham. Gotham lives in us!  – Thomas Wayne”

Here We Go Again…

As a Batman fan, I’ve been terribly frustrated ever since DC killed Alfred. Yet every time I read a recent batch of comics, I see all these flashbacks of Mr. Pennyworth peppered through and he’s like a bookmark of what could have been and what could have continued to be.

I do get that this is a reminiscing story, in that Bruce is collecting his memories on paper while he can; after all, he’s in a long-term care facility, so we as readers are supposed to buy into that this may be a gap in his memory of how things really went down.

I know that Russell and Allred worked hard on this book, but as a reviewer, it is not my cup of “Bat Tea’!  It’s hard for a reviewer to read something that they imagine a creative team has spent an enormous amount of time working on, in both script and art.  However, it’s also my job to render an opinion on a comic whether it is solicited or not. Thus my huge exhale…”Here we go again.”

I Liked the Fish!

Russell plays with the origin in a myriad of ways… taking Bruce away from the Alley and making him less focused on the shock of seeing his parents gunned down. That nuance is supposed to really have a tremendous impact on his character but if Russell wanted to portray a spoiled and entitled brat who takes Alfred for granted… he succeeded.

There’s an old joke about a fraternity that has a file of term papers to turn in for particular classes. Each year one of them will turn in the same paper about a fish which has the same picture of the fish.  Each paper, year after year, then earns an “A’ from the professor.

However, one year later, a fraternity member turns in the paper without the picture of the fish.  He figures that the professor was on to the fraternity’s hijinks and needed the look to be fresh. The student received a “C-” with the note from the professor “I liked the picture of the fish!”

Mark Russell – I liked that Bruce was in the Alley, I liked the role that Alfred played in his life, and I liked that Selina or some of the other characters came into his life at a later date… I liked the fish!

Art

The feel of this book is very 1960s and it lacks sharp lines.  Gotham’s images when Thomas Wayne is alive are akin to a Metropolis or a very shiny beacon of hope.

Sometimes the faces, the looks, the lines, and the intricacies we typically see are not there. It takes a LOT to create a comic book but, again, for me, this isn’t a style I’m fond of. Maybe I’m stuck in some other Frank Miller or Todd McFarlane era of drawings, but the art doesn’t hit with this character in this book. Just my opinion.

Conclusion

No spoilers, as you should judge Batman: Dark Age #1 for yourself, but Bruce is in a pickle. We get a new character to work with in this incarnation of Batman’s origin, which should have been left alone. This reboot’s enough to make me turn off my computer and wait ten minutes to turn it back on to see if Superman lands in North Carolina this time instead of Kansas, or if Batman’s parents live and he turns out to be a real playboy! One ripple affects everything….sigh!

I liked the fish!

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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