BATMAN: ONE DARK KNIGHT REVIEW
Updated: Dec 10, 2022
I bought the miniseries because I heard this was Jock's debut as an illustrator and writer. I always prefer buying books where the artists does it all because it feels like I'm getting their complete vision. Jock's envisioning of the Dark Knight's world is complete. His rugged inkwork depicts Gotham in complete urban decay, the same one that gave birth to gritty vigilantes like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Paul Kersey in Death Wish. Here, Gotham gives birth to the legendary Dark Knight, who Jock portrays in grounded fashion as a lethal tactical brawler. Yet, he isn't afraid to showcase the more pulpy whimsical nature of Batman as he illustrates the vigilante moving with supernatural grace in his bold, loose, expressive ink style.
Art aside, I wish the book had more time to explore the story's central characters. As an action story aficionado, I also wished the action scenes were a little more fleshed out. One of the issues I've always had with American comics is that action is treated as a by-product of the story instead of part of the story itself. Batman's fights with street thugs in the book shouldn't be treated as an appendix, but a device that highlights the danger he's in as he's devoid of any gadgets or weapons to use. The story concept centers around Batman's arduous duty of transporting a metahuman villain on foot during a big black out in Gotham where every street thug wants to take him out. Jock, I assume, is trying to showcase the mental and physical prowess of Batman without his utility belt, but limited by the amount of pages he can use, that we only get a glimpse of that. As a result these story beats in the fights are missing and the fights themselves feel rush. For example, in the second image below in panel 1, is Batman throwing his bat stars at the thug at point blank range? The movements would be better highlighted if there were a couple more panels and at least one more page added to let the action breathe.
I enjoy the stand alone structure of DC's Black Label series, as I've long ran out of stamina to read any long story arcs. The last time I did that was Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal, and by Trickster, book 15, I was exhausted and ready to move on to another book. Does One Dark Knight rise above the pile? Where does it rank with classic Batman stories like The Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Long Halloween? If you're interested in a tale that grows the Batman lore, this book is a disappointment, but if you're a fan of Jock's work and his debut as an auteur excites you, then One Dark Knight deserves a place on your shelf.