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Batman: Dark Detective Paperback – April 12, 2006
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Englehart and Rogers' mid-1970s stint on Batman was the basis for the 1989 film Batman, the one with Jack Nicholson, and is fondly remembered by fans. They reunite for a new story, reprising what made their fan favorite so popular: an updating of primal elements of the Batman legend. They revisit the tragic murder of young Bruce Wayne's parents; field revitalized versions of Joker, Two-Face, and Scarecrow; and revive Silver St. Cloud, the most memorable of Wayne's many girlfriends. As the new story opens, Silver is engaged to a gubernatorial candidate whose campaign is derailed by a sudden dark horse: Joker, whose slogan is "Vote for me or I'll kill you." The Englehart-(Marshall) Rogers approach hasn't changed much. Writer Englehart presents a more human version of the Dark Knight than has been seen recently, and Rogers' architecturally precise illustration style has loosened up a bit. Their now old-school version is refreshing after the morbidly grim realizations of Batman during the years since their first go-round with him. Gordon Flagg
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I think this writing team has put forth some of the best Batman stories ever made. The 1970's was a good decade for the Batman character. Many of the writers had gotten sick of all the campiness of the TV Batman, and returned the character to his dark, mysterious, gothic roots.
This team also knows how to write a good Joker story. I believe these are the same guys that wrote "The Laughing Fish" story, an infamous Batman tale. The characters are all pretty accurately done, and the mysterious "Joker house" laden with death traps is a sinister twist at the end of the story. This is a good story.
One criticism was that the lettering was done by hand. Well, back in those days, it was done that way. You could tell back then just by looking at a word balloon or caption who did the lettering. It was distinctive, unlike generic lettering done by computer.
If you liked the classic stories from the '70s, this is a fine reprise of that period's storytelling conventions (thought balloons, expository captions, etc). If you are looking for a modern approach to the Batman, there are several alternatives that can be found here.
Enjoy this story for what is - a fun, colorful revival of a great period in comics storytelling by the people who were there in the first place.
Suffice it to say that Rogers' run on "Detective Comics" stands as one of the most beautiful examples of comic book art of its time (and, I would argue, of any time). Not only are his drawings first rate, but the use of color in those issues-- for which Rogers is also responsible-- is almost without peer. This book, on the other hand, deserves to go out of print and quickly so as not to tarnish the memory of this once great artist.
If you would like to catch a glimpse of Rogers'(and to a slightly lesser extent, Englehart's) work at its finest, pick up the original stories which are currently collected under the title of "Strange Apparitions." If, on the other hand, you would like to see why it's rarely a good idea to try-- years after the fact-- to revisit a story which is rightly considered a classic, then pick up this book (see also the "Star Wars" prequels).
Well, 25 years later, and here they come again! BATMAN: DARK DETECTIVE reunites that amazing creative team, reprinting the 6-issue miniseries which features Batman battling the Joker, Two-Face, and Scarecrow, and all while having to deal with the return of his old flame Silver St. Cloud. Silver is now the fiancee of Evan Gregory, a US senator now compaigning for governor. But even though she once left Bruce, due to her not being able to handle his dual identity, the attraction is still there, and it gets her up to her neck in the Joker's deathtraps.
It's great to see that these guys are at the top of their game, maybe even better than they were on the original stories. Englehart's writing portrays Batman as an even-tempered super sleuth, instead of the arrogant, belligerent sociopath with whom we've had to suffer for the past 20-odd years. And his Joker is not just a deadly criminal, but a true madman - he's seldom written better. Rogers' art has become even better over the years, if that's possible: his masterful use of panel layouts, perspective, and action shots really help to convey exactly what the script called for. And with Austin's stellar inking, it is pure beauty. The only problem I can see with it is that the end is a bit of an abrupt letdown. Of course, those familiar with the history of Bruce and Silver likely know it can end no other way, but more would have been better. Still, no overt complaints here - buy this book!!!