Review by Frank Plowright
To all intents and purposes this continues from The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn, but between volumes DC rebranded, so this becomes volume one of the New 52 continuity.
David Finch is now co-plotting with Paul Jenkins, who also provides the script, while Finch delivers the pencil art. The front cover quote promises “the architects of Batman: The Dark Knight have put their full efforts into creating a title full of blockbuster content”, which is far from the truth. What’s actually inside, for the opening half dozen chapters, is stitched together portions of multiple plots seen before that say nothing new about Batman, his world or his enemies.
Once again, there’s mass breakout at Arkham Asylum, home of Batman’s more deranged foes. Once again Batman has to round them up. Once again a glamorous woman comes on to Bruce Wayne, but is she more than she seems? When Batman learns early on that the bloodstream of his foes is contaminated with a substance that simultaneously distorts their physique and removes all traces of fear, which of his regular foes come to mind? Sure enough, they turn up. Scratching for any novelty here supplies Batman actually calling on his Justice League colleagues for help.
Finch supplies suitably gruesome, steroid-infused versions of Batman’s regular foes, and he returns to illustrate a Judd Winick tale returning to the topic of overcoming fear, although in a different context. The Court of Owls Talon is prominent here.
The final tale picks up on another earlier theme, as the Mad Hatter unites with Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Joe Harris and Ed Benes cooked this up together, and following the pattern of the first arc Harris scripts and Benes draws. It’s lifeless stuff that fills the pages, but no more.
Matters improve greatly with volume two, Cycle of Violence.