A young Bruce Wayne embraces the darkness and tracks down a wealthy serial killer with the help of cat burglar Lucie and the mysterious Henri Ducard, who has also been hired by Alfred Pennyworth to find Bruce. Chip Zdarsky, Carmine Di Giandomenico, and atmospheric colorist Ivan Plascencia continue to lay the foundation for Wayne’s transformation in Batman along with the growth in his detective and criminal profiling skills as he kind of, sort of tracks down his first criminal. Glonet, the serial killer, is yet another twisted mirror of Bruce Wayne and takes out the loss of parents on the people of Paris in a violent, yet methodical way, but Zdarsky’s strongest writing comes in the characterization of Lucie and Ducard, who are two very different mentors for Bruce.
From its first page, Batman: The Knight #3 features layers of storytelling voices from Chip Zdarsky’s narrative boxes for Glonet and Bruce to his more straightforward police procedural dialogue and finally the visuals of Di Giandomenico and Plascencia. Like many of Batman’s future rogues, Glonet looks sick and twisted, and later, Ivan Plascencia goes operatic with swatches of black when he gets desperate after the police and media catch onto his serial killer pattern. A guy who removes people’s finger nails after slashing them to death has serious issues, and this is Bruce’s first taste of the kind of utterly depraved villain he’ll have to face when he becomes Batman. The 12 issue length of Batman: The Knight gives Zdarsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico room to breathe, develop Bruce’s arc, and not pull a Jeph Loeb and introduce the big, twist-y bad guy towards the beginning of the series. (His anti-Asian racism aside, Long Halloween and Hush are pretty great especially on the art side.)
No story of Bruce Wayne’s training to become a creature of the night is complete without checking in with Henri Ducard. Wisely, Chip Zdarsky doesn’t put all his cards on the table in regards to the character, but shows his cunning and that he always gets his many as he easily finds Bruce for Alfred. However, he and Di Giandomenico aren’t afraid to show Ducard’s vulnerable side with a big image of him getting shot in the gut by Lucie’s fence for the jewelry box in Glonet’s safe. Carmine Di Giandomenico takes a moment to show the pure terror on Bruce’s face when he thinks that he is responsible for yet another person’s death. The sequence also shows Bruce’s awkwardness and lack of savvy around criminals and shady folks with his gaze lingering on the man that Lucie is about to sell the jewelry box to. He’s all rage and raw ideology with some acrobatics and fighting skills and is light years away from Matches Malone.
I was initially skeptical of yet another comic set in Batman’s past, but Batman: The Knight #3 continues to plead its case through its focus on character development and Bruce’s relationship with his mentors. Alfred Pennyworth doesn’t appear in the book that much, but every panel he appears in is charged with emotion with Zdarsky going silent and letting Carmine Di Giandomenico just having him react to the fact that Bruce is alive and that maybe his dangerous trip is a passing phase. We know it’s not, but it’s nice to see a character that has been missing from the present day Batman comics for a couple years and showing someone who 100% has Bruce’s back unlike Lucie and Ducard, who deep down just care about money although Lucie has more of nurturing relationship with Bruce as evidenced by her cheek kiss and calling him “little knight”.
Batman: The Knight #3 comes across as a rough draft version of one of Batman’s great mysteries and villain fights, but Chip Zdarsky, Di Giandomenico, and Ivan Plascencia masterfully show Bruce’s flaws while hinting at the darkness and obsession that would make him a legendary crime fighter.
Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors: Ivan Plascencia Letters: Pat Brosseau
Story: 8.3 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review