Writer: Matt Wayne
Artists: Steven Cummings, Mike Atiyeh (colors)
Publisher: DC Comics
For the penultimate issue of this long running but soon to end DC title (in its 17th year), this issue was a..., well..., to be blunt, a disappointment. On their own, both the story and the art might have worked…for a different character, but here, and at this point in this series, this isn’t quite a Bat-level story. Started with the same purpose that its successor Batman Confidential is going to work under, Legends of the Dark Knight was supposed to and did exactly what its title says: tell stories of the Legend that is Batman, the Dark Knight of Gotham. In that regard, we have had many a great story, quite a few of them written in the 5-issue arc format. However, after the ending of the last multi issue arc (the five issue long "Darker Than Death" by Bruce Jones and Ariel Olivetti), the remaining three issues are done-in-one stories.
While last month’s "A Legend of the Dark Knight" was an interesting take on the "Legend of the Bat" (even more so when compared to a similar one a few years back as also the episode from the Batman: The Animated Series), this month’s "Otaku" is as I said, not a story worthy of the Bat. No, that would be too harsh. It is worthy, but of a younger Bat or rather a younger bird, a Robin. Even though the story revolves around the celebrity memorabilia Black Market (with the Batman being the celebrity here), it is not a deep enough of a mystery.
The start is intriguing enough one, as is the fight scene that follows. Writer Matt Wayne seems to hit all the right checkpoints with the Bat in disguise, the dangerous beauty, and even a Gordon appearance. It all worked, right until the main plot opened up, and then everything went to the dogs. Even if the trip to Japan manages to hold its own, the going undercover in whatever twisted progeny of Japanese mob and fanatic geek, Rentaro Hara, the Otaku came up with is just too…, too…, campy to be taken seriously. As for the final fight, somehow seeing Batman leave knowing fully well that the man he left would be killed, it did not sit well with me. It seems that along with making him a brighter Batman, DC has made the Bat so bright, so light, that even letting a man die, even a guilty one, doesn’t perturb him in the least. Y’know, call him dark, foreboding, crazy with a god complex, call him whatever you will, the Pre-IC Batman would not have let this happen, not even to his most hated enemy, the Joker (which has been proven time and again.)
Even the artwork, though not having anything inherently wrong with it, came across as too young, too anime-ish to work with the Batman. Not only does Bruce Wayne not look his age, he looks years younger than even his sons, yes, even Tim (in a few panels). On the plus side, the action scenes are good, better than the rest of the panels, maybe because they focus more on the complete body of the character and less on their faces.
Conclusion: If done with more detail, this story could have worked well in the new Batman Confidential series, with the younger Bruce Wayne working as a better protagonist than the more than a decade older one here.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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