It might be because I’ve read a lot of early 1990s Spider-Man books lately, but David Finch really reminds me of a modern Todd McFarlane, as far as being a superstar artist who gets to write his books as well as dark, more horror-tinged artistic stylings. Not to mention, they’re both Canadian. That said, Batman The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn really reminded me of something that McFarlane might have done.
The main story in this collection is from Batman: The Dark Knight #1-5 and focuses on a new character named Dawn Golden (which if you flip her name around, becomes a really cool title for the story…get it?). Bruce was friends with her as a child and has turned up missing. Anyway, her disappearance was due for her jilting the affection of the Penguin who with the help of Killer Croc has her kidnapped. It read like there was some sort of ‘dinner with schmucks’ kind of a thing between Dawn and the Penguin. This part I get and then it becomes really confusing.
It turns out that Dawn’s father was a longtime occultist who for some reason needed to kill Dawn so he could open the gates of hell as part of a plan to demonically rule the earth. He’s come back from the dead to murder her. Somehow Ragman gets possessed twice in this story; the first time by underworld queen Lady Blaze to recruit Etrigan the Demon to her side. Batman wounds up talking Etrigan out of this, and the two are in a race to stop Dawn’s father Aleister (who is using Ragman as a conduit to return to the Earth and kill his daughter in part of some sort of demonic ritual). Dawn gets killed as part of this but Aleister doesn’t succeed in bringing hell to earth and Batman is sad that Dawn is dead. Not to mention there was some other subplots going on, including Commissioner Gordon dealing with an upstart detective, as well as another with a child named Mira who was trying to steal the Batmobile as collateral to rescue her father.
So what did I think?
Well on the art side of things, Finch is great at drawing the more supernatural/horror style super hero comics. He draws monsters, demons and even Killer Croc in a monstrous way. At times his depictions of Lady Blaze and Dawn veered to far into the cheesecake realm. But on a whole, he knows how to render a dark and scary world for Batman to explore.
On the writing side, I’m pretty sure that this was Finch’s first project. His concepts made sense, but I really think he needed a co-writer for this. At times, the pacing was off and felt like he was trying to have too much going on. I guess the good thing about him writing and drawing the book is that he knows what to script to play to his artistic strengths. I wonder if his future projects involve in that regard.
Since this was a collected volume, they threw in some extras. Finch teamed up with Grant Morrison for Batman: The Return which is a great story of Batman setting up his Batman, Inc. super hero franchise. Now that I think about it, I would really like to see more Morrison/Finch Batman stuff. The final extra is a two-page story from Superman/Batman #75 with Conner Kent and Daman Wayne in the future paying tribute to the men who preceded them as Superman and Batman.
Golden Dawn is beautifully rendered; there is no questioning that. But I think the audience of this is a little narrow, mostly to Finch fans. So if you’re one of his fans–or appreciate dark, horror comic art you will love this.
Agreed the plot here was a little thin, but I think this is an instance where the images really sell the story, good story or not. Finch uses a bunch of great characters, including Blaze and Ragman, and even that Commissioner Gordon subplot had a little energy to it (this continues into the first DC New 52 Dark Knight collection, though I don’t know if it goes on after that). That New 52 collection too had some great depictions of the guest stars even if the story falls apart. I’ve kind of resigned myself not to expect much from this title except a well-drawn story, and in that way I’m not disappointed.