Wednesday, July 22, 2015

[Best of Batman] Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb

So, okay then. This is the sequel to The Long Halloween which I was not the biggest fan of to begin with. Still, on the enjoyment scale, this one was better. That was until I got to the last two issues. Ironically enough, while The Long Halloween had a rough start but a nonetheless merciful albeit incomplete resolution, Dark Victory managed to get a stronger and more concise beginning but a more frustrating and pointless ending. I don't understand this travesty. The Knightfall series is honestly more better written. Well, Loeb's stories should be fundamentally incomparable to Knightfall since the latter after all was written by multiple writers across different Bat-titles. The sole reason I compare them is becauase I was also quite lukewarm towards Knightfall but I would pick the omnibus series over either of Loeb's work any day.

I don't want to get into details about Dark Victory. Ultimately it's a Batman story that brought no joy or appreciation for me. I thought I could like any kind of Bat-story out there (I eventually did warm up to Greg Hurwitz in his writing for New 52 The Dark Knight run) but Jeph Loeb had officially made me question that reality. I can state from here on out that I don't enjoy the way he writes Batman. There were a few areas that have potentials, most notably for Dark Victory. The central murder mystery story had a better foundation; a series of cop kilings with the murderer pinning notes on the corpses depicting the child's game Hangman as secret messages. At least the victims were sympathetic people and not criminals who are a tad more irredeemable. But the holiday-themed murders were needlessly overplayed like the torture horror of the SAW franchise.

Next, both Batman and Commissioner Gordon show remorse and guilt over the loss of Harvey Dent. Batman spent most of the time blaming himself in his inner monologues about Dent's transformation to Two Face. This would have been acceptable except that I never really saw a friendship developed in the prequel among these three to make the drama and internal conflict believable enough for me to care about. And then there's the women. The female characterizations were easily  appalling and cheap as far as stereotypes and pigeonholing goes. Every woman is given the roles among grieving spouses, easily manipulated girlfriends and whimsical seductresses--and with little to no clarification for motivation or pay-off to their arcs whatsoever.  I love Bruce and Selina's relationship in general but Loeb had accomplished the impossible feat: he made me hate them together. I couldn't stand their stupid dance of coquettish nonsense, especially so in Dark Victory. Aside from the badly drawn costume, Catwoman had a weak arc for both Loeb stories and therefore her usual morally ambiguous actions were not as promising or as riveting to see unfold. The only two women who are at least trying to break the mold were gangster Sofia Falcone and possible sociopath Gilda Dent who have interesting characterizations from the start but were sadly overlooked and underdeveloped midway through both stories.

I don't even want to acknowledge the wasteful space female District Attorney Porter took up for Dark Victory. What a pathetic and unbelievable character. And goddamn Dick Grayson who is featured in the Absolute Dark Victory cover prominently doesn't even have a major contribution to the storyline. All he did here was sulk and look morose. He isn't Jason Todd or Damian Wayne, dammit. Where's the sparkling personality I've always loved about the first Boy Wonder? Overall--yeah, fuck it. I don't have any parting words. But I will rate this one star higher than fucking Long Halloween just because.


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