I love it when Batman is stripped back to his absolute core – a detective on the mean streets of Gotham.
While there’s still a lot of stuff in this volume that takes the Caped Crusader in totally different directions, the majority of the stories rely heavily on the gritty Gotham streets in which Batman uses his intellect to conquer crime. The absolutely stellar opener, Ted McKeever’s “Perpetual Morning”, is flat out one of the best Batman tales I’ve ever read. Nominated for an Eisner Award, The Dark Knight conducts an autopsy on a murder victim, internally narrating why he does what he does and how those he had failed live on within him.
Other standouts include Bruce Timm’s “Two of a Kind”, a tale of Harvey Dent’s attempt at redemption, Neil Gaiman’s amazing “A Black and White World” in which Batman and Joker are actors inside the comic, breaking the fourth wall Deadpool style. There’s also Bill Sienkiewicz’s strange “Bent Twigs” wherein Batman plays family counselor for a strained father/son relationship. It’s a strange premise but for whatever reason, it works.
There’s a few duds but the good definitely outweighs the bad here. I can see why people may have initially been hesitant about the style but it ultimately works when you apply the kind of storytelling that they all seem to share.