Comic Book Review: "Batman: The Dark Knight #8: The Madness"
The darker side of the Dark Knight continues in the pages of “Batman: The Dark Knight” by David Finch, Joe Harris, Richard Friend, and written by Paul Jenkins. In this issue, “The Madness”, the streets of Gotham City are being plagued by random acts of violence and citizens killing each other apparently for no reason. Batman is called in to investigate. Although it seems that senseless violence can happen anytime and anywhere, the Dark Knight believes something, or someone, more sinister is at work. His investigation leads him into the bowels of the city and into the twisted Wonderland of the Mad Hatter.
Issue 8, “The Madness”, begin with Commissioner Gordon showing Batman the aftermath of a subway massacre. Although it is a bloody scene, the victims weren’t attacked by assailants—they attacked each other. Batman isn’t convinced that it was as simple as that. At the Batcave, Batman is looking at the architecture of the West Harlow Station, built 100 years ago. He believes that something down in the tunnels made the people kill each other.
At Gotham City Police Department, Commissioner Gordon and Lieutenant Forbes of Internal Affairs are arguing. Forbes is still breathing down his back; he’s sure Gordon is his GCPD connection to Batman. Forbes got approval from the mayor to have Gordon take a psychological evaluation. He thinks Gordon has gone off the deep end.
Batman is searching the tunnels under Gotham. Alfred is giving him directions via the Batcave computer. Batman thinks he hears a train, but it is Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee (the cousins Dumpson and Deever Tweed). They attack him. He believes they’re under some kind of mind control; perhaps the same kind that affected the subway victims. He fights them off and they flee. He chases them through a tunnel. The Tweeds set off an explosion that collapses a section of the tunnel separating Batman from them, allowing the duo to escape.
Alfred is watching the news. Senator Toomey is announcing his bid for the presidency and then shoots himself in head. The random attacks of violence appear to be escalating.
Gordon is at his psychiatrist appointment. He tells her he doesn’t think it’s good for him to be there. She asks him if there’s anything he would think to talk about. He asks her how much he’d need to tell her to get Forbes off his back. He say that he has a lot of issues that he could complain about: He could tell her about his ex-wife who is suddenly back in town after years away, his daughter crippled and then suddenly healed before he even noticed, or his son locked away in Arkham Asylum. He has a lot of problems, but he’s not crazy.
Alfred tells Batman that there are more and more reports around Gotham of people doing irrational things. Batman has tracked down the Tweed cousins. His convinced that they are working for someone and he is sure they’ve returned to whoever it is. That person, Batman bets, is responsible for the mind-controlled violence going on around Gotham City. He tells Alfred to call Gordon and meet him at the scene.
He finds the Tweeds working on top of a building installing a satellite dish for the Mad Hatter (Jervis Teach). They turn the dish on. It disorientates Batman and they attack him. Teach explains that his device will create madness throughout the city and he can rule over the anarchy. Gordon arrives in a helicopter with the police. He tells the sniper to shoot Teach if he has to. Batman knocks Tweedle Dee into the satellite and destroys it. Jervis tries to shoot Gordon, but Batman knocks him over and he falls through a glass ceiling. With the mind control dish destroyed and the criminals defeated Batman stands triumphant over the scene. Gordon and the police arrive to arrest Teach and the Tweeds.
This eighth outing of “The Dark Knight” is a clever story that evaluates the psychology the characters and the concept of self-control. The story questions sanity and mental control. It contains a surreal quality of contrasting moods of the characters. The victims of Teach’s mind-control device are sane people who are made to do insane things against their will. Gordon, having been forced into a therapy session, explains how he has many things that could make he go crazy, but he still is in control. The two antagonists (Forbes and Teach) parallel each other in how they wish to control others and ultimately destroy them. The story shows the correlation between free will, self-control, anger and madness. There are passive people are forced into violent behavior, but also those, who have reasons for anger (Gordon), can control it. This plot device adds to the eeriness of the series. The characters of Tweedledum, Tweedledee and the Mad Hatter (characters named and based on those created by Lewis Carroll), continue the surreal “Alice in Wonderland” motif of this series. It will be interesting to see how far down the rabbit hole the Dark Knight will go.
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