Ricky Church reviews Batman: One Dark Knight #1…
It is without a doubt Jock is one of the best comic book artists in the business, especially when it comes to DC’s dark corner of Gotham City. Jock has had plenty of experience drawing Batman in stories such as Batman: The Black Mirror and The Batman Who Laughs, but in his latest project for DC’s Black Label miniseries Batman: One Dark Knight Jock takes up both art and writing duties for the first time. One Dark Knight #1 is a very well illustrated issue, but Jock’s writing makes for a compelling story as Batman faces a very tough challenge.
One Dark Knight sees Batman helping with the transfer of a powerful metahuman named E.M.P. who is able to charge up on electricity so much that he could knock out the city’s power grid. When their convoy is ambushed, Batman tries to capture him before he can reach full charge but by the end of the chase every light in the city is out, Batman is left without communications to either Alfred or the GCPD and he’s stuck miles away from Blackgate Prison with nearly every gang in Gotham converging on his and E.M.P’s location with the intention to either free or kill the villain.
Jock captures the characterizations of the cast pretty well. Batman and Alfred have good banter with each other while making it clear the two are quite intelligent and adaptable to the situation. The newly introduced Rita Vasquez, Gotham’s Prison Bureau chief, gets plenty of time throughout the issue to stamp her place in the story as she’s very against Commissioner Gordon’s – and by extension, Batman’s – current method of handling villains. She doesn’t believe in putting the supervillains and other criminals away in Arkham, but in harsher punishments and incarceration in Blackgate, which is why she was so adamant E.M.P get transferred from Arkham to a newly secure cell in Blackgate. E.M.P. doesn’t get much characterization in the issue as he mostly stays locked in a truck and then runs aways, but he does seem like an interesting new villain and, from what little he actually said, doesn’t seem as outwardly evil as the other rogues and Jock does tease there is more to him than we or the other characters know. Hopefully he’ll get more development to set him apart from other villains in the further issues.
It goes without saying the artwork is fantastic. Jock’s imagery is great, from the way Batman jumps across rooftops to E.M.P. gaining more power. Even the way Vasquez gets in Gordon’s face and they argue is dynamic with a lot of energy from the characters. Jock’s artwork flows easily from page to page and the facial expressions are nicely detailed as is his colour work with the way the sun slowly goes down until complete darkness overtakes the city. One of the best aspects to the issue though is the inclusion of several maps of Gotham City, showing the transfer route from Arkham to Blackgate with listings for each district and where the gangs reside. Jock does well depicting the great scale of the city with its various neghbourhoods and other landmarks (a few of which are cleverly named after prominent Batman writers or artists). Once the power goes out at the issue’s conclusion and the final map is shown with Batman’s location and the routes Gotham’s gangs are taking to trap him, it becomes clearer than ever just how tough this night really will be for Batman and his unconscious prisoner.
While Batman: One Dark Knight #1 served mostly as set up for the following issues, the way Jock introduces the story and its new characters never feels like it’s a slow pace to get to the story’s inciting moment. It builds nicely as the stakes become clear and Jock’s take on the characters feel well within their typical characterizations while his art and colour work set the tone very well. The anticipation for what Jock will do next on Batman’s journey across Gotham in this night is already high and exciting for his very first written issue.
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