It’s been a while since we checked in on Gregg Hurwitz and “Batman: The Dark Knight”. His work on this series is vastly underrated. Introducing us to the colorful nemeses of Batman is a daunting task. He’s brought us maybe the definitive origin stories of the Penguin, Scarecrow, and now the Mad Hatter. Hurwitz gives readers insight into the childhood scars and turmoils that made these villains what they are. He provides the background of how they became the dark mirrors of the Dark Knight. You almost feel sorry for them until you see the atrocities they commit.
Now with Hurwitz teamed with Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern: Rebirth), this series hits its apex with this arc. These guys play for keeps. The Mad Hatter was always B-list as far as Batman’s rogues gallery but he is a breakout star here. We learn about young Jervis Tetch and his growth deficiency. The treatment causes fits of rage. He is ridiculed and bullied and has his love unceremoniously rejected. This all bleeds through his criminal pathology.
Tetch is depicted as more vicious than he has ever been seen before. He pushes Batman to emotional breakdown. The Mad Hatter’s lack of respect for human life is shown through his complete indifference to his victims. They are, literally, just dolls for him to play with. He is trying to create his own ideal wonderland through caustic measures.
The only problem with what Hurwitz does on these stories is that they take a little bit to get going and the endings play as rushed. The guts of these stories are nearly flawless. There are so many moments of utterly macabre depravity. The suspense is thick and delicious. Maybe the problem is that the reader knows that Batman has to defeat the villain eventually. The rogue’s journey is so fascinating that you just don’t want it to end. All you can do is enjoy it while it lasts.
Included is “The Dark Knight” Annual, a devilishly funny story featuring the three aforementioned villains with fantastic art from Szymon Kudranski.
Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 3 – Mad will be released Jan 21 from DC Comics.