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COMIC BOOK REVIEW

BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #22

Author: John Bierly
Saturday, October 11, 2008

FROM DC COMICS: "What happened the first time Batman hauled The Joker into the Gotham City Police Department? Find out here in part one of the time-lost 4-part arc titled "Do You Understand These Rights?" as the ramifications of the "new kind of criminal" emerging in Gotham are felt with deadly consequence! Hollywood producer and writer Andrew Kreisberg (Justice League, The Simpsons, Eli Stone) joins artist Scott McDaniel (NIGHTWING, GREEN ARROW) for a look at what severe changes Batman's presence in Gotham City had on the face of crime."

The Batgirl/Catwoman arc just ended and we've already got another issue of BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL. Issue #22 begins a brand new arc by writer Andrew Kreisberg and a pencils/inks team that's well known to fans of the Bat Family: Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens.

Let's just begin the review with the part where I always gripe about how you're stuck with four to six months of an expensive hole in your wallet (or a big gap in your collection) if a multi-issue arc isn't exactly aces.

Like this one.

"You Have the Right to Remain Silent" is part one of the four-part "Do You Understand These Rights?" arc, which is about the first time Batman hauls The Joker into police custody.

One thing working against Kreisberg's story is the fact that we saw a version of The Joker's first appearance at a Gotham precinct this summer in a little movie called THE DARK KNIGHT, which a few of you might have gone to a time or two. From Gordon's puzzlement over The Joker's creepily mysterious origins to that supremely bad-ass interrogation scene between Batman and The Joker to The Joker's ruthless, infinitely clever escape, THE DARK KNIGHT gave us a series of images and words that's impossible to top.

The second thing working against Kreisberg, unfortunately, is himself.

We immediately begin with a cop talking to his partner about how he just got back from his honeymoon with his beautiful new wife and how she saved him from a downward spiral of booze and whoring around, etc.

Are you kidding me? We all know what happens in movies when a guy starts talking about all the amazing things he has to live for. Either a) he's doing to die or b) the things he has to live for are about to stop living.

And then Batman busts in and drops off The Joker.

And then leaves, only to be seen moping every few pages about how he holds himself responsible for creating The Joker in the first place.

Things aren't much better back at the precinct.

The Joker makes silly faces and picks his nose for his mugshot photo.

Contrast this to how damn scary it was to watch Heath Ledger just sit there and stare with those crafty eyes and carved-in grin, flicking his fingertips together.

Here, we get The Joker bragging about how he burned off his finger prints with acid. Contrast this to how massively scary it was when Gordon and his team couldn't find ANYTHING on the Nolan/Ledger Joker. Who was he? Where did he come from? Not knowing turned out to be the only thing we needed to know.

Here, when The Joker repeats everything Officer Just-Back-From-Honeymoon says, it's just annoying.

In THE DARK KNIGHT, when you can hear The Joker repeating the words he's forcing a kidnapped Mike Engel to speak into the camera, it's both funny and scary.

Now, I realize it's not fair to compare the comic to the movie. However. The movie raised the bar on The Joker, and subsequent stories had better have something pretty interesting and awesome to say about the character.

You won't find it here.

I appreciate what Grant Morrison is doing even though I don't particularly like it, but you've got to admit he's going to some crazy places with The Joker in BATMAN right now. And The Joker's brief cameo in the current issue (#849) of DETECTIVE COMICS says more about the character than all 22 pages of this issue of CONFIDENTIAL.

Most disappointing of all is the ending, which is a massively ridiculous take on the old "the killer can still kill from behind bars" theme, which is of course initiated by The Joker asking for his one phone call, which he did in a much cooler way in THE DARK KNIGHT.

The ending is absolutely preposterous. Let's just say it's very, very predictable. No one would believe the contents of The Joker's phone call in the first place, and even if someone did, that someone's personal recent personal life would have had to have perfectly followed every variable in The Joker's assumption to get the result The Joker gets here.

And we have to read three more issues of this?

Scott McDaniel was an interesting choice for the artist for this; his kinetic style is best suited to comics with lots of movement, and it served him well in the pages of BATMAN and NIGHTWING over the years. Here, his best stuff involves The Joker's physical movements, such as the scene where The Joker does something silly to try to keep the other thugs in the holding cell from accosting him.

Coming back to my original point, Heath's Joker could have given them one look and they'd have fled to their corners and wept.

I don't think Kreisberg gets The Joker. And I'll only be getting the remaining issues of this arc because of my responsibility to all of you out there reading BOF.

Thanks again to Jett for the opportunity! We'll continue the discussion when the next issue arrives on November 12th. - John Bierly

Indiana native John Bierly started writing for publications when he was 17 and never stopped.
His favorite things in life are family and friends, concerts, burgers, Mountain Dew, and, of course...
...THE BATMAN!
You can read his blog at JOHNBIERLY.COM.

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