Current Reviews


Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #175

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2004
By: Ray Tate

"Testament: Vulnerable"

Writer: John Wagner
Artists: Chris Brunner, James Sinclair(c)
Publisher: DC

Batman hasn't been this scary to criminals for a long time in the continuity books, and Mr. Wagner, Mr. Brunner and Mr. Sinclair provide ample examples that will make the reader grin as the criminal screams. These scenes keep Batman viciously dark while at the same time leave the reader no doubt that most of Batman's bite is pure bark. Batman does not kill. This does not mean that he will not break bones and terrorize. These two aspects separate Batman from other heroes and also explain why he should always be portrayed as perfectly sane.

Simply put if you are Superman, you do not let a psychopath even if he claims to be on your side run amok. If Batman were not more about bluff, then Superman would have no choice but to stick him into Arkham. For this reason alone an insane Batman makes no sense in a shared universe. Ironically, Alfred's attempt to protect the perception of Batman's sanity creates a problem from what at best was a minor nuisance. These actions incidentally could only work in the type of setting Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight creates.

The title gives the game away. Legends. These stories, with respect to the post-Crisis DC universe, may have actually occurred. These stories, with respect to the post-Crisis DC universe, may not have actually occurred. Likewise, the presence of a Batman in the book does not mean the existence of a Metropolis or a Superman. Alfred cannot immediately take for granted that becoming a super-hero for whatever the reason is a valid career choice. For this reason, his actions make sense. If this tale had occurred in the DCU, then it would not have a solid premise or poetry. Alfred by attempting to protect his master from exposure brings to light his greatest secrets to an opportunistic enemy.

Less interesting to the story is a Gotham City Detective's pursuit of Lonnie, the repentant member of the gang of Hillbillies who are metaphorically blasting shoguns in Gotham's streets. Wagner bestows to his detective an above average intelligence, but these scenes while offering the well drawn cleavage of Lonnie's friend and while well choreographed just seem formulaic and unenergetic when compared to the evocative moments of Batman ripping through Gotham's seedy side to find a lead on Rough Justice.

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