Recently my local libraries had a massive upgrade as to what books they carry graphic novel/tpb wise. I found a diverse and downright impressive collection of books. Hence starting a new series for me here on the blog. As I got a massive pile of books the first one I decided to read was Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2: Cycle of Violence. I read the first volume of this ages ago and it was okay. Outside of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman I’ve not read a lot of Batman’s New 52 adventures. Hence why I decided to grab Vol. 2 with Vol. 3 to see more of what I missed from Gregg Hurwitz on this series. Hurwitz’s run has gotten a bit of acclaim so as it is the library, why not give it a go? There is nothing wrong in life with taking a chance on reading more of a series; especially from your local library. Anyway enough of the intro, let’s start up this Bat-tacular and see where it takes me.
Now Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2: Cycle of Violence is mostly stand alone from everything else. If you aren’t up to date on the Bat-Universe, this would be a story up your alley. I can appreciate the way Hurwitz did this story as it does require little to no previous Batman knowledge. Take note before diving into this, this is almost borderline mature readers territory. If you have a kid who may be wanting to read Batman, I wouldn’t recommend this. I give Hurwitz credit here as he pulled no punches with this story so for a teenager and on up; this is a perfect story. Hurwitz manages to write one of the creepier Scarecrow stories out there. There’s even rare moments where you can actually understand the Scarecrow. Hurwitz dives into the backstory of Scarecrow and managed to terrify me a couple times. Not easy to do by the way to actually make my eyes widen in shock, Hurwitz did this.
The Bruce Wayne segments with Natalya, Bruce’s girlfriend in this story, slow down the story a touch but they’re not bad either. They lead off to strong moments later on but they’re mostly tension break moments to balance the story. I do like the payoff of those scenes as they all contribute further into the focus of the story, fear in multiple forms. It’s a pretty multifaceted story diving into the fears of Batman and everyone in his life. Now that being said the fear exploration worked and didn’t work depending on the phase of the story.It’s also a vivid way to explore the Scarecrow and his alter ego Jonathan Crane. By the end of this story you’re going to understand the fears of our characters in ways you wish you didn’t know. As I said some fall flat but when they work, they’re haunting and beautifully done.
Here’s where things get more hit or miss with me, David Finch’s artwork here. In any sections where there was action involved, he was spot on. He’s great at translating the mood of Hurwitz’s scripts too. I loved his art on the Scarecrow, that was terrifying and the imagery involved won’t leave my head anytime soon. Overall Finch’s storytelling for The Dark Knight was solid. Just I learned that I am not big on how Finch draws his faces. If it’s Bruce Wayne, Batman, Gordon, and Scarecrow, the faces and designs look amazing. A lot of other characters suffer from stiff face syndrome as it looks as though all the life was drained from them. That bugged me more than anything else. Everything else art wise from Richard Friend’s inking to Sonia Obach’s coloring looks good overall. The curse of David Finch’s artwork as it does suffer from uneven moments but when it’s on, it looks great.
The #0 issue in the Cycle Violence collection is a different take on the Joe Chill and Bruce Wayne’s parents death story. It was a good way to place this story as it expands upon concepts Hurwitz brings up in his story. I found myself liking this story way more than I thought I would. The death of Bruce Wayne’s parents is one that’s been retold by many creators, this one is good though. Heartbreaking on the levels of Bruce Wayne’s suffering and also why their deaths happened in the first place. Hurwitz did a nice job conveying the absolute pain Bruce Wayne went through. I almost call it a mini version of Batman Begins. It didn’t hurt that Mico Suayan and Juan Jose Ryp did a good job art wise on this story. I would say #0 was a perfect way to close out this collection.
Now if Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 was in front of me to buy would I buy it? This would be one I could buy if it was at a discount somewhere. It was a good story but not so much that I’d go out of my way to own this collection. I will say if you’re huge into Batman, you may want to give this a shot. Especially if you’re curious about this take on the Scarecrow, it’s unlike anything else out there. If you’re at your local library and see this on your shelf, check it out. Uneven at times but I must say that this was a solid read.