Top critical review
Great Artwork, but Lame and Outright Goofy Villains Derails the Three Disparate Story Arcs
Reviewed in the United States on February 23, 2017
As much as I adore the Dick Grayson-era Batman books I never actually got into Grant Morrison's Batman & Robin series, though I often see it widely praised. I think this stems from the fact that I'm not a big fan of Grant Morrison's writing style in general and though he doesn't write this volume of the series, his presence and influence can be felt throughout the book. Dark Knight vs White Knight collects three disparate story arcs that form the final run of the Batman & Robin series before the New 52 reboot. At this point in the timeline, Bruce Wayne has returned from the dead but is off traveling the world setting up his Batman Inc initiative (putting a new Batman in every country). Dick still serves as the Batman of Gotham with Damien as his Robin and this book sees them up against a variety of bizarre and kind of goofy villains. The first arc sees them come up against Absence: a former, vindictive girlfriend of Bruce Wayne's who was shot in the head but survived. When Bruce never came to her funeral (due to his being lost in time and presumed dead) she grows jealous and starts committing crimes to seek his attention, all as an elaborate cover for her plan to execute the men who shot her. Oh and she also has a massive hole in her head because she apparently has a medical condition where her skull is mostly empty... which looks stupid as all hell. For a lame vindictive ex story-line, she sure gets the drop on Batman and Robin throughout her arc.
Next up is the titular Dark Knight vs White Knight arc wherein a new villain (the White Knight) starts targeting the family members of any former Arkham patients. It is an intriguing idea and the villain's design is otherworldly and cool, but the arc never really explains him that well and it is the shortest arc of the book. How he tracked down the identities of all of Arkham's families or why he seems to a being made of light is all summed up in a few off hand expository lines. The final arc sees Jason Todd return as the Red Hood only to be arrested and sentenced to a general population prison where he beings murdering the inmates. Batman and Robin arrive to try and get a handle on the situation only for Todd to be broken out by a group of mercenaries who are all (sigh) half human and half animals. This arc is arguably the best of the book thanks to its exploration of Jason's fractured relationship with Bruce and Dick, but the goofy villains derails it a bit. Overall the book does have tremendous artwork throughout, but the lackluster villains and the fact that Dick and Damien continually get one-upped and out maneuvered by the likes of Absence makes this one of the weaker books from the Batman Reborn era in my opinion.