Coming off the certified Bat-high provided by scribes Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis in its previous three issues, BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL
slips back into some of its old habits with "Good Cop ..." in issue #29. It's part one of the new two-part "Bad Cop" storyline by writer Andrew Kreisberg and artist Scott McDaniel.
This is a direct sequel to "Do You Understand These Rights?" (in issues 22-25), which was Kreisberg's take on the first time Batman dragged The Joker to a Gotham jail. Compared to the other memorable Jokers at the time, including the Grant Morrison/Tony Daniel snake-tongued super-psycho, the vile and gritty gangster in Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo's critically acclaimed and commercially successful JOKER graphic novel, the Nolan/Ledger cinematic Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT, and Kevin Smith's very Kevin-Smithic prankster in BATMAN: CACOPHONY, I felt that Kreisberg's Joker (and for that matter, the entire story) relied too heavily on silly conveniences and preposterous contrivances. Batman spent too much time moping and brooding, cracking a smile only at the end when Bruce Wayne and Alfred laughed about Batman being the world's richest garbage man. The story made me actually dislike Bruce and Batman (but only in the context of that particular story, of course).
I feel bad for how hard I was on the story at the time, and I apologize to Mr. Kreisberg for how harsh those reviews were. If I wrote a Batman story, it would be something like, "Batman punched the guy, and the guy fell down, and then he drove the Batmobile home and ate a sandwich that Alfred made." So I'm not saying I could do better. But I do know that the story didn't work for me, and that nothing about it felt right, and that the issues I had with it then are still just as clear and as problematic to me now.
Right off the bat, "Good Cop ..." makes some of the same old mistakes. Geoff Shancoe, the Gotham cop The Joker drove to madness and attempted murder, is still locked up in Arkham Asylum IN A CELL BESIDE THE JOKER (!), which allows The Joker to viciously tease and taunt the man about every good thing he's taken away from him and every bad thing he's driven him to do. What kind of asylum would allow that to go on all day, every day? Shancoe's former partner, now confined to a wheelchair after Shancoe shot him, visits Shancoe to try to remind him of the good cop he used to be. Nothing gets through Shancoe's new case of crazy, however, and off he's carted back to his cell for more taunting from his green-haired neighbor (including some foreshadowing to one of The Joker's most awful atrocities that occurs after this story takes place).
Meanwhile, at Wayne Manor, a scowling Bruce Wayne sees The Batsignal and wordlessly abandons a woman he's just had sex with. Couldn't he at least have faked the need to attend to an important business matter or something?
Anyway, The Joker has convinced Shancoe to escape and exact revenge on Batman and the Gotham City Police Department for his wife's death, even though The Joker spends all day every day reminding Shancoe that he's the person who talked Shancoe's wife into killing herself in one of those ridiculously preposterous kills in "Do You Understand These Rights?"
And before it's all over, Shancoe's murderous rampage as the new villain Bad Cop will bring him face-to-face with a rookie destined to become one of Gotham's most important officers of the law.
Cue “To be concluded.”
It's better than "Do You Understand These Rights?" -- but that's not saying much. McDaniel's strong, dynamic lines make the art really pop off the page, especially in panels that involve The Joker's posture and facial expressions or any kind of physical action from Batman.
But with Bruce Wayne missing from the DC Universe and soon to be just as absent from the massive re-launch of new and old Bat-books in June that aren't even going to feature the real Batman, BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL remains one of the few places to find a new story about the one and only Dark Knight. From the "world's richest garbage man" joke in Mr. Kreisberg's original storyline to Bruce's cruel, cold abandoning of a sexual conquest in this one, I just can't find anything about this Batman to like.
With respect to Mr. Kreisberg, this isn't the kind of Batman story I like to read (and I wouldn't have spent three bucks on it if I hadn't told Jett I'd review it).
Part two is due to arrive in a comic shop near you on June 10, and if the cover is any indication, Barbara Gordon is about to get dragged into all of this, too.
Swell. - John Bierly