The Freaks and the Mobsters have a turf war, a serial killer stalks Gotham City (What? Again?), and Batman meets a recent orphan.

Title: Batman: Dark Victory
Writing: Jeph Loeb.
Art: Tim Sales

ISBN: 1563898683

Available from Amazon.com and
Amazon.ca

Premise:

Gotham’s Grotesques band together and wage war against the traditional underworld, while a serial killer stalks the city. Against this background, Batman acquires his partner, Robin.

High Point

1. The conflicts between the mobsters and the “freaks” make for surreal conflict. Loeb and Sale demonstrate just how entirely bizarre it would be to live in this world.

2. We see Wayne’s isolation, and why his traditional sidekick makes a warped kind of sense.

Low Point

Loeb and Sale had started to explore the change in Gotham’s underworld from Year One‘s traditional mobsters to Batman’s familiar Rogues’ Gallery in The Long Halloween. It’s a great notion, and one that merited further exploration. The rehash of Long Halloween‘s serial killer plot feels like a failure of imagination, and it detracts from two more interesting stories. The change of power and the appearance of Robin could have been developed into better stories without the “Hangman” at work.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6 This is derivative, even where it does not need to be.

Artwork: 5/6 Sale’s art is good, but not as consistently good as his work in The Long Halloween. The development of Batman and Robin’s friendship has been illustrated effectively. Dark Victory contains a number of great touches, such as a scene in a cop bar on St. Patrick’s Day.

Story: 4/6

Characterization: 4/6. Loeb has a good take on Robin, though he’s been drawn rather small. As with some of their earlier gangsters, the Maroni Brothers seem to be an experiment to see if even comic-book characters can be written too stereotypically. They can.

Emotional Response: 4/6.

Flow 5/6

Overall: 4/6 Dark Victory, like its predecessor, works better as a year’s worth of comic books than as a “graphic novel.”

In total, Batman: Dark Victory receives a score of 28/42.

Tune in next week, same battime, same batchannel, for Catwoman: When in Rome, the recent, amusing third part to Loeb and Sale’s trilogy on Batman’s early years, and the conclusion to this review series.