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Batman: Dark Detective #1

Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2005
By: Shawn Hill



“Some Enchanted Evening”

Writer: Steve Englehart
Art: Marshall Rogers (p), Terry Austin (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Plot: Bruce is in favor of Gotham’s new gubernatorial candidate, Evan Gregory, but not too fond of his opponent.
Comments: They should have gone with the Joker’s poster as the issue title. “Vote For Me – Or I’ll Kill You” is some campaign slogan. That’s the dark, psycho tone that spices up a good Batman story for me: when the psycho is the villain, not gruff and asocial Bruce himself. Just a little neurosis is plenty for Bruce, sneaky perfectionist that he is. This is the only Batman story I’ve been interested in (outside of Catwoman) since DK2, and so far it’s much more entertaining.

I bought the Strange Apparitions trade (reprinting the classic 70s Detective shorts) on the same day, and this issue is a seamless follow-up to the work of the same creative team, so perfectly poised and competent that the intervening years simply vanish.

As the cover makes clear, this is a brighter, though no less deadly, Bat-world than we’re used to. Rogers manages to capture the verve of the 60s TV show, while Austin’s still sprightly inking leaves plenty of room for Chris Chuckry to shine Gotham up with some garish primary colors. None of this gets in the way of Englehart’s excellent handle on Bruce the man, or of the exciting battle scenes with a crafty but not apocalyptically over-charged Joker.
It’s a fun story that hits all the right beats, and promises to make the six promised issues as much of a jewel in the Batman crown as the old stories were. Like JLA Classified, this is another creator-driven product that serves as an antidote to the current state of the DCU.

Sexism watch: Well, you know when you’ve got a social and talkative Bruce Wayne, you’ve got to have a sexy babe on his arm. Many of these have been as interchangeable as the latest Bond girl, with only a few having any sort of resonance. So why is Silver St. Cloud one of the memorable ones?

Looking at the old story and this one, it seems simple. She’s poised. She’s nice. She’s gorgeous. And she’s smart. We get that rarity in today’s comics world (though, to be fair, Omac #1 and Manhunter both have been using the same technique recently) from Silver, a look into her thoughts and feelings that lets us see the Bat through her insightful eyes. She figured out his identity all those years ago based on perception alone, and Rogers recreates almost panel for panel their goodbye scene, so we’ll know the choice Silver made even with her knowledge, and how much this reunion now might mean to both of them.

Of course, we got that insight into her mind while Batman had intruded upon her boudoir, with Silver clad only in a towel for the whole sequence, so that might have something to do with her lasting allure, too.



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