Legends of the Dark Knight: The Crime Never Committed
Batman is a very concise character, he cuts straight to the point and more than any other this comic reflects that, for both better and worse. Like the two previous issues before it The Crime Never Committed is a very cleverly written piece, intricate and interesting but with some very specific pacing. See, by their very nature issues of this new digital Dark Knight series must be swift in both setting the scene and then telling their story – because their unique single-panel page structure leaves them seeming so short – and with this third attempt at Bat-based brevity local writer Tom Taylor proves himself more than capable of handling that challenge, but i might just mean that as a criticism.
Overcompensating, it’s not something that you ever want to accuse another man of but unfourtunately I have to here. In his attempt to squeeze this story into the new structure Taylor overshot the mark and too efficiently condensed his content. Firstly the comic is so tightly constructed that there is no room left for it to move and so the momentum is missing from the second half. It seemed like we have gotten both the point and the entirety of the plot pages before the book had ended and yet the pages kept turning and points that had been so perfectly made within earlier action are then echoed out loud in static panels; wasted panels when space is so precious. In this way Taylor needed to be more like his lead character and let us readers simply “Work it out,” as it were.
On a whole though this effectiveness is to be praised, many writers would struggle to so concisely tell a tale ( of which I am one) without sacrificing cohesion or complexity but I still can’t help but think the book would have been better had Tom had a little more freedom on this front; to either cut out couple of pages or decompress into a few more. At worst the latter would have meant getting more of Scott’s clean, colossal panels and that, of course, is actually a best case scenario. Though I think perhaps I have gotten a little out of order now myself, muttering obtusely about pacing when I’m yet to mention the plot.
As a pleasant change after the psych and power centric plots of the past two weeks The Crime Never Committed provides an aquatic themed ( Batman has no faith in the fishes)Person of Interest style tech-based Batman story; meaning that LotDK has now basically covered all the bases of Batman books, bar the badfellas. Similar to how last week’s issue answered an unasked question many fans must have about Bats being on the Justice League the story here addresses a complaint that we have all heard made about many superheroes: that they don’t really do all that much good, attacking as they often are the symptoms of crime instead of the cause. I can’t say too much more without spoiling things but the biggest shock of this book is that it plays out in a positive and, dare I say it, optimistic way, which is not what we’ve grown to expect from Gotham.
More important than the story itself though is the way in which Scott and Taylor tell it and, fittingly, you need only look at a few panels To find out how that is. The second panel ( pictured above ) is a clear exemplar of the comics cleverness: we, the audience, are looking at a screen and seeing in that space a shot from within the screen of Batman’s own terminal; it’s taking comics to a whole new level of digital. They didn’t need to put this much thought into the shot: an on screen search result or the spouting of a line like “Found One” would probably have sufficed but the pair care more than that and it shows. Another telling trait is that the book closes with a caption that reads “Fin”; this is the sign of a classy comic and the punch line perched up above simply confirms that.
While it won’t rock your world watching Batman play the long game always gives us fans a good, quick fix and on that level The Crime Never Committed certainly never disappoints. It’s just that when the work is this good you can’t help but want more than that, a stronger dose. The issue spends a lot of its time imagining hypotheticals and after reading it i couldn’t help but do the same, thinking of a Deep sized trade of Taylor’s Bat work and after that thought settling for only a few pages seems a stark sacrifice. Though if the worst thing that you have to say about a book is that you want more, well I dare say that speaks for itself.