At last, we have a solid, nearly flawless issue of our dear Dark Knight. Batman is still fresh from the damage The Hatter inflicted, yet he is motivated by his passion to keep battling against his struggles. This issue was a joy to read. You can feel every blood drop, listen to the mumbling crowd and perceive every slow footstep. The night oozes through the pages and temporarily occupies the space where you are reading this issue. The noir setting is brought to brilliant life through the art, which compliments the writing. Gregg Hurwitz returns as a writer while a new artist, Alex Maleev is on the drawing board.
Gregg Hurwitz seems to be more focused and direct in his approach this issue. Yet Maleev’s work flawlessly compliments the writing. One can believe the weight of burden and duty these characters have simply by looking at them.
The formless nature of Clayface is one of the character’s main attributes. Hiding in plain sight; he is every one and no one, making him a very formidable foe. One cannot predict where he is until it’s too late. This issue plays with that notion very well and he plays a parallel with Batman’s ways from the shadows.
Clayface is also a reflection of Batman’s own psychosis in relation to Natalya’s death. He wasn’t there for her, either as Batman or as Bruce Wayne. Batman, in those moments of her loss, was as formless as Clayface himself. Maybe this is why Batman goes out every night, to find a form after his identity was shattered after his parents’ death and each subsequent loss.
The main character, as hinted at by the cover, is Commissioner Gordon. Maleev drew him in such a way that you can feel every passing thought from within. Gordon’s struggle is not only well written by Hurwitz, but hinted at in a more subtle way from the mannerisms Maleev ingeniously crafted in drawing.
I struggled to find actual problems with this issue. Mainly because I felt that something lacked in the middle section, yet I could not put my finger on it. I felt that the pace dwindled and old familiar territory was being addressed again. Yet, it is perfectly understandable that certain traumas cannot be easily forgotten by “not talking about them”. So, the past inevitably drags on towards this issue like normal human memories.
Apart from this rather slow part the issue also suffers a bit from being hasty and too convenient during a certain particular moment with Gordon. The suspense of disbelief, in a world of creatures such as Clayface, had to be geared up a couple of notches to be entirely absorbing.
Mentioning Clayface, the usage of the character is more on the surface level at the moment. While not necessarily a negative per se, it sometimes felt a bit lacking in substance. The trick with Clayface in this issue is that the writer hints that his presence could be everywhere. However, while narrowing this abstract notion to the actual character per se, at the moment, we don’t really have anything tangible.
There are moments scattered in which Clayface felt absolutely terrifying. Yet, at other times he felt weak and not entirely present. However, I’m sure (while also hoping) that the following issues will deal with his presence a bit better.
It’s been a while since I’ve been as excited for the next issue of a comic book. We are left with lots of questions, which will hopefully be answered without any long-winded finales (as in previous TDK issues).
The story’s second act weak, but the intro is memorable and the ending is strong, and riddled with a series of intriguing loose ends.