BATMAN: ONE DARK KNIGHT #1/ Written and Drawn by JOCK/ Letters by CLEM ROBINS/ Covers by JOCK, CLIFF CHIANG & LEE GARBETT/ Published by DC BLACK LABEL
Edward Pressler may not be the most famous of Arkham Asylum’s residents, but he is potentially the most dangerous. A metahuman with unstable energy powers, Pressler is known on the street as EMP, due to the effect his presence has on nearby electronics. This leads to a city-wide blackout after the convoy carrying Pressler to a special new cell at Blackgate Prison is attacked by gang-bangers after the bounty on his head.
Now, Batman is trapped in the middle of a city gone mad, due to the lethal combination of the loss of electricity and the worst heatwave in Gotham’s history. It will be up to the detective to find and escort EMP through five miles of hostile terrain, as every gang in the city hunts for them both. It’s going to be a long, dark night…
Jock is likely best known to Batman fans for his work on The Black Mirror and various covers. I’ve personally been a fan since Green Arrow: Year One and the Hellblazer: Pandemonium graphic novel. It would be fair to say that Jock is a well respected artist, but this first issue of Batman: One Dark Knight proves that he’s also a damn fine writer.
The plot is fairly basic, but Jock does a fantastic job of ratcheting up the tension as this first issue builds to the ballyhooed blackout. The most interesting angle is a new Prison Bureau Director, Rita Vasquez, who is responsible for moving EMP from Arkham to Blackgate, as part of a new initiative that promises to be tougher on convicted criminals. This leads to tensions with Jim Gordon, as Vasquez is the sort to shoot first and ask questions never. This will likely lead to Batman having to fight the prison personnel under Vasquez’s control in future issues, along with the criminals.
The artwork, unsurprisingly, is fantastic. Jock manipulates shadows like few others can, but the earlier, brighter scenes show some surprising color contrasts. Warm orange fires clash with the sickly green glow of the technology used to contain EMP before his Faraday cage is fried. The neon shades of Gotham’s nightlife shine all the brighter for the shadows that enhance them, making it all the more stunning when they disappear and all is almost pitch black. The lettering by frequent Jock collaborator Clem Robins is also amazing.
While even the most dedicated Bat-fans may feel burned out with all the Black Label offerings of late, Batman: One Dark Knight is a must-read. The writing and the artwork are top-notch and there’s a variety of covers for the collectors to consider. You won’t want to miss this!