The New 52 (are we still calling it that?) Mad Hatter origin story is finally complete this week! This six part story has been a long trip, and heck, it might have been made better with double shipping, but its final chapter is here this week with the tantalizingly great Ethan Van Sciver back on art, but is it good?
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Batman: The Dark Knight (2011-) #21 (DC Comics)
If you’re familiar with comics you know 6 is the magic number when it comes to trade paperbacks and collected editions. In some cases a story needs 6 issues to be told, in others it’s clear the story wasn’t even plotted to last 6 issues but was just cut up to fit the mold with 22 page installments. In the latter cases the single issues can be up and down in quality but when read as a whole read incredibly well.
And then there are stories like this one, that had good moments, but others where you wonder why things couldn’t have been wrapped up in three, two or even one issue. I sometimes think a writer might pitch a story as 6 issues, but then when they sit down to write it quickly realize the best beats really only fit in 3. Then you’ve got yourself a pickle to write yourself out of. I’m not sure if that was the case here with writer Gregg Hurwitz — but at times it feels like it.
Everyone listen up! If you roll your eyes at once we can stop stupid lines like this from ever happening again! Just believe!
Last issue, Batman’s girlfriend was thrown from a helicopter onto the Bat Signal and became very dead as a result. Batman got some good leads as to where Mad Hatter’s secret lair was located, but aside from that Hatter has been able to get away with hundreds of murders. These murders were seen in #18 as they floated into Gotham harbor. All those deaths, including a very personal one to Bruce, have made Batman a bit angry to say the least; which makes for a Batman who revels in his rage while he’s on the prowl in this issue.
Van Sciver kills it here and there in this issue.
Unfortunately Hurwitz doesn’t have anything to say in this issue. Mad Hatter’s backstory is covered and Batman’s girlfriend is dead. That only leaves Batman to punch the lies out of Mad Hatter. In fact, when Batman shows up to the lair there’s nearly nothing in his way to pummel the drug addled idiot. We finally get to see Mad Hatter’s tea drugs at work outside of his own usage and Van Sciver does a good job showing Batman trip out. But for what point is any of this? Sadly it all comes off as cursory and pointless because we all know Batman won’t kill.
I don’t think there will be any moment in this issue that you’ll think he’ll kill the Mad Hatter, even though that seems to be the entire point of this series. Hurwitz seems to have setup all the cards to produce a murdering Batman. I mean, the guy has every right to here, but its just not going to happen. We know it, Batman knows it, but I guess Hurwitz thinks he’s convinced us enough.
That’s pretty badass.
- Looks great with some inventive art
- Van Sciver doesn’t have more than 3 pages of interesting things to draw
- Melodramatic unsatisfying ending
What an incredible let down this issue was. The amount of time spent on the Mad Hatter was reduced to a few punches from Batman. Bruce’s girlfriend was flung out of a helicopter with about as much care as this story has had with its characters.
If you look back at my previous reviews you’ll note how my rating started low, then went up and down throughout its run. Sadly its gone even lower with the final issue of the story arc.
Overall though, I think there’s a good story within this 6 issue story arc, but they should have either filled only 3 issues, or something else should have been added. As it stands this story wasted time and some interesting ideas and became yet another comic solved by punching.
Is It Good?
No. The worst was left for last as nothing important is said or done besides the usual superhero punching his way to victory.