I promised I’d review Batman: The Dark Knight #17, partly because the Mad Hatter is getting a New 52 origin story, but also because artist Ethan Van Sciver called me out. Don’t believe me? Check out his comments in the review of the last issue here. So was he right, does the story get better… Is it good?
Batman: The Dark Knight (2011-) #17 (DC Comics)
The Mad Hatter has been a rather vapid villain over the years with any semblance of characterization done in the animated series. Last issue only gave us a taste of the new version and he’s a lot more sick and a lot more dangerous. This issue is going to be remembered for the flashbacks to his youth and how it may or may not have changed him into the villain he is today. We don’t actually get that far into the story however, but at the very least readers will see he was once a normal little boy with no evil intentions.
Mad Hatter: Making kids punch themselves in the face since 2013.
It’s nice to see writer Gregg Hurwitz spending so much time on this villain, particularly because he’s been such a throwaway character in the past. His connection to Alice in Wonderland is particularly interesting as we learn he enjoyed an Alice in Wonderland amusement park as a young lad. It’s also neat to see he has a bonafide connection to hat makers. But this is a Batman book after all, so how’s his part in the tale? Frankly it’s not bad at all. There are character tinges that’ll make you smirk and enjoy the character for what he is… namely a workaholic superhero.
That’s pretty funny.
In the present however, the characterization of Mad Hatter still leaves a lot to be desired. Basically put, the man is a madman and we really don’t know why. He also seems to have some kind of super strength. I’m pretty sure you can’t snap a guys neck as easily as he does in this issue.
Awww but now his head is crooked!
Sciver‘s pencils still amaze when it comes to composition and technology. There’s a weight and realism he brings to the tech in particular that make you want to oogle the pages for hours.
Look at that bat plane!
You might be asking yourself why the cover is all psychedelic and freaky. The answer is…I’m not sure yet. The final page of this issue seems to suggest Hatter has some kind of involvement with drugs; I’m leaning towards a Carlos Castaneda peyote connection, but it’s still too early to tell.
But what happened next?!
- More great art from Sciver
- The story is starting to click
- The story is too slow
Now that Hurwitz has had two issues to flesh out the backstory I’m liking where he’s taking it. So far though, we need more to really understand the point of this new story arc. The story is going a little too slow for my tastes. We get a full flashback but very few answers. This might be the case where the story shines in the collected format. It also might be the case where the big reveal of what made the Mad Hatter… well mad, is what is going to really make the fans love this story.
Is It Good?
Yes. Mad Hatter is starting to look like a well balanced villain for once.