Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BATMAN: DARK VICTORY by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

Batman: Dark Victory, written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale, was originally published as a miniseries in 1999 and 2000. It is a sequel to Batman: The Long Halloween. It takes place early in Batman’s career, and focuses on a serial cop killer, the Hangman, who murders on holidays. Meanwhile Harvey Dent has escaped from Arkham and is waging war on Gotham’s organized crime families. This story also retells the origin of Robin.

Loeb, as usual, tells an engaging story. He does a good job balancing a fairly large cast of characters, although he waters down Batman’s rogues gallery by cramming virtually all of them into this story, then making them incredibly easy to defeat.

Sale’s art is stylized and exaggerated. There are often vast differences in the sizes of characters, and his sewers are like cathedrals. But overall, the art works.

There are a few grievous plot holes here. The Hangman is killing cops on holidays, and the cops know this, yet most every protagonist in the book has trouble keeping abreast of upcoming holidays. Batman knows that Harvey Dent and his minions are using the sewers to hide out and move around, yet he can never find them. Nor is he aware that the sewers conveniently lead right into the Batcave. The mind fairly boggles.

Overall, though, Batman: Dark Victory is interesting enough to overcome its flaws, and, while not as good as The Long Halloween, is entertaining enough. Read The Long Halloween first, as Dark Victory relies heavily on it.