Batman: Dark Victory

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Batman: Dark Victory
Trade paperback cover. Art by Tim Sale.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Limited series
Genre
Publication date November 1999 - December 2000
Number of issues 14
Main character(s) Batman
The Hangman
Two-Face
Robin
Catwoman
Creative team
Writer(s) Jeph Loeb
Artist(s) Tim Sale

Batman: Dark Victory is a 14-part comic book limited series (including a #0 issue) written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Tim Sale. The series is a sequel to Batman: The Long Halloween and was originally published from 1999 to 2000 by DC Comics.[1] The series takes place primarily during the third/fourth year of Batman's career. The plot centers on a series of murders involving Gotham City police officers by a mysterious serial killer only known as The Hangman. Central to the storyline is a territory war between Two-Face and the remnants of the Falcone mob, led by Sofia Falcone.

The story is also a re-telling of the origins of Batman's sidekick Robin and his adoption by Bruce Wayne. The story brings closure to many characters introduced in Frank Miller's Batman: Year One.

There is also a sequel, Robin: Year One by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty.

In 2004, Loeb and Sale produced a follow-up titled Catwoman: When in Rome, focusing on Catwoman's movements in Italy. The story takes place during the events of Dark Victory, between Valentine's Day (when Catwoman leaves Gotham) and Thanksgiving.

Plot Summary[edit]

It has been several months after the killer known as "Holiday" was apprehended. "Holiday" was actually Alberto Falcone, attempting to one-up his father, and prove he is more than capable of handling the family business. Janice Porter has replaced Harvey Dent as Gotham City's District Attorney and despises Batman's methods, although Commissioner Gordon tries to sway her opinion.

Bruce blames himself for letting Harvey go beyond saving and become a villain himself, serving time in Arkham, like many of the people Dent put there. Batman becomes even more of a loner, refusing Gordon's assistance, and Catwoman's. During a visit to Dent's cell, there is a large breakout of most of the inmates of Arkham. Alberto is not one of them. Batman insists Sofia Gigante had some hand in the breakout, but she assures him she does not, as since their last visit she now uses a wheelchair and has a brace on her head.

Janice Porter allows the release of Alberto, as long as he is to be in his brother Mario's custody and stay within their father's old cabin. Shortly after his release, Clancy O'Hara's body is found hanged from the Gotham city bridge, his old patrol. Taped to his chest is a newspaper clipping, headlined "Holiday goes free", with a hangman riddle written on it.

Batman interrogates the Riddler, the only man who Holiday did not kill, but he assures Batman that he has not the faintest idea as to why Holiday did not kill him. In the Falcone estate, Alberto begins to hear his father's voice, telling him to continue his work as the Holiday Killer. Soon after the Riddler meets with Batman, saying that the killer assumes that another person is playing their twisted game, the corrupt ex-commissioner Gil Loeb is found hanged from his stairs in his mansion, another riddle is on his chest.

Later, another hanging, another corrupt officer, Detective Flass is found hanged outside his strip club. Batman believes that Alberto is the newly dubbed "Hangman" killer, or knows who the person is. He interrogates him, but learns nothing and leaves to search for Harvey Dent.

Entering the sewers, Batman fights Solomon Grundy, and he leads Batman to Harvey's new office. Searching his office, there is an explosion and Batman loses Two-Face underground. In Gordon's office, he is talking and trying to persuade Janice to accept Batman, and she agrees, as long as he follows the law.

Another hanging, Sgt. Pratt with another note on his chest. All the notes have come from Harvey's old desk as the DA, all the evidence suggests he is the killer.

During the "Hangman" killings, Bruce is also struggling with his relationship with Selina Kyle, so much so that she eventually leaves Gotham and only left him a note.

Janice Porter has been shown meeting a mysterious man several times throughout the investigation, and it is eventually revealed to be Harvey. Another hanging is found, this time in front of Harvey's old house. Officer Merkel is found with another note on his chest. Harvey, now completely taken over by his darker side, conducts his own investigation throughout the escaped criminals, questioning all of them as to the identity of the "Hangman" killer. Gordon is almost hanged on the roof of the precinct, but is saved by Two-Face who assures the men that he is not the Hangman killer.

Multiple attacks on organized crime by the Joker are perpetrated, and he eventually assaults the Falcone estate, attacking the members of the family before being apprehended by Batman. Another hanging is found inside the garage of the precinct. Batman adopts a young Dick Grayson as his family is killed during a mob sabotage, and he begins his training to be his partner.

During a police raid on the underground hideout of Two-Face, Batman assists Gordon and they eventually catch him. During all of which, Alberto is still hearing his father's voice telling him to continue his work. He is eventually pushed to the point of almost committing the murder of his sister, but resists the temptation. Two-Face is put on trial, but escapes when the other criminals assault the court.

Another hanging of a police officer, and Two-Face is still the prime suspect. Janice is kidnapped by The Joker and Scarecrow, and when she argues with Two-Face, he kills her. They dump the body into Alberto Falcone's bed, to convince him he killed her. Finally, he breaks the facade and it is revealed the Calendar Man had secretly placed microphones all over the house and manipulated him.

Batman investigates Mario Falcone's penthouse, and is almost hanged but frees himself due to metal braces to protect his neck, and attacks Catwoman. She reveals that she investigated Sofia Gigante, and that she could find no record of her visiting a physical therapist, despite the fact she uses a wheelchair. After escaping the estate, Sofia and Alberto meet inside the family mausoleum, she smothers him, telling him he is not a real Falcone.

At the Batcave, Dick correctly translates the clues left behind that they refer to protecting the Falcone Crime Family, and Batman scrambles to leave. At his hideout, Two-Face is attacked when several explosions rip through his lair, the criminals attempt to escape when Two-Face is attacked. Finally, the Hangman Killer is revealed as Sofia Gigante. She had killed everyone who had helped Harvey to become the District Attorney and further his career, and left clues to make it look like it was him all along. Her final ploy was to pretend to be a full-time wheelchair user, leaving her as the last suspect. During the ensuing fight, Sofia is shot by Two-Face and Batman gives chase.

Dick intervenes, now wearing a uniform as "Robin", and he assists Batman in the recapture of the criminals. Joker shoots Two-Face, and he falls presumably to his death. Mario Falcone, now a broken man, torches his family's estate, leaving his family destroyed. Selina Kyle arrives at Carmine's grave, and confesses the truth that she knows he was her father, but cannot prove it yet. Two-Face is revealed to have Carmine Falcone's body, and it was frozen presumably by Mr. Freeze. Dick takes an oath with Batman in the Batcave to help him in his crusade against crime.

Themes[edit]

In the introduction to the trade paperback, Tim Sale states that he was hesitant to join with Jeph Loeb on the project as he did not care for Robin, given his stark contrast to Sale's interpretation of Batman. Loeb, however, insisted that the teaming of the two characters was essential to the story. A major theme of the story concerns how the three protagonists of The Long Halloween now feel alone. Throughout the book Batman struggles with this, his refusal to accept help from Commissioner Gordon, as well as with his fear of being wrong, a side-effect of the Scarecrow's fear gas. Catwoman even slaps Batman when he shows no interest in what might happen to Two-Face. Dick Grayson is depicted in the story as one of Bruce Wayne's only anchors left to humanity.

Critical reaction[edit]

Critical reaction to Dark Victory has been mostly positive.

Hilary Goldstein of IGN Comics said that "Dark Victory is not quite as good as The Long Halloween" and added that "it's too heavily dependent on the original to stand on its own", but praised how Dark Victory "uses the events of The Long Halloween" to further explore the psychological makeup of the Dark Knight" and "add[s] new context to the Batman we all know and love."[2] Goldstein later ranked Dark Victory #10 on a list of the 25 best Batman graphic novels, but the list has been updated since its release in 2005 and is now ranked at #7.[3]

Dave Wallace of Comics Bulletin said that Dark Victory "doesn't quite live up to the high standards set by The Long Halloween" but praised "Loeb's note-perfect understanding of what makes the Batman tick" and added that "Tim Sale's artwork also keeps on hitting new highs." Wallace concluded that Dark Victory is "definitely worthy of your attention and a place on your bookshelf."[4]

Sion Smith of Counter Culture said that "where Dark Victory really works is in its patience. Its willingness to let the story go where it needs to in its own time is a godsend", and added that "Tim Sale's depiction of a city at war with itself is one of the freshest views of Gotham we've seen in a long time, while Loeb's storytelling is as fluent as I've come to expect from him."[5]

Dark Victory, along with its predecessor The Long Halloween, are personal favorites of Dark Knight Trilogy star Christian Bale, and served as prime inspirations for his take on playing Bruce Wayne/Batman.[6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 289. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "The superstar team of writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale was back, and just as dark as ever. In this thirteen-issue sequel to the pair's acclaimed Batman: The Long Halloween maxiseries, the creative team picked up right where they left off during Batman's early years." 
  2. ^ Batman: Dark Victory review, Hilary Goldstein, IGN, June 1, 2005
  3. ^ The 25 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels, Hilary Goldstein, IGN, June 13, 2005
  4. ^ Batman: Dark Victory review, Dave Wallace, Comics Bulletin
  5. ^ Batman: Dark Victory review, Sion Smith, Counter Culture
  6. ^ "UGO's World of Batman - Christian Bale Interview - Batman Begins". Batman.Ugo.Com. 1974-01-30. Retrieved 2010-12-30.