Issue #7: You know, it’s really odd that Loeb keeps trying to treat Calendar Man as a Hannibal Lecter type when he doesn’t have a history of killing people. Oh, and we finally get a reference to Haly’s Circus, which seems to come out of nowhere.
Issue #8: Ah, Joker. Thank you for mocking all the other characters and their constant mobster movie quotes. Also, if I didn’t know Dick’s origin story, I’d probably be scratching my head right now about this left turn into circus shenanigans. It just doesn’t feel like a natural extension of the story.
Issue #9: Yeah, as a Dick Grayson origin story, this issue leaves something to be desired. It’s really not interested in him beyond his role as a doppelganger for young Bruce. I’d say that we could just read Year Three, LOTDK #100, or Robin Annual #4 to fill in the characterization gaps, but Dark Victory contradicts all of them, so…
Issue #10: We’re getting “angry Dick” here, which may have been an influence on DCU’s Titans. He still feels like he’s getting a little shortchanged. The action scene in the sewer was okay, though. And it’s worth mentioning again that Dark Victory feels far less padded than The Long Halloween. Something notable happens in every issue.
Issue #11: Wow. In one scene, Loeb manages to contradict both Year 2 and Year 3 in no uncertain terms. Just as Zucco dies, Batman remarks that he hasn’t found his parents’ killer. Considering that Year 3 is directly intertwined with Tim Drake’s origin story, I’m tempted to slap an Elseworlds label on Loeb’s stories and leave it at that.
Issue #12: I think that Batman’s constant narration contributes to my feeling that TLH and DV are lackluster origin stories for Two-Face and Robin, respectively. It’s hard to feel like it’s THEIR story when Bruce makes it all about himself. (And don’t even get me started on this comic’s explanation for the “Robin” name.) Oh, and the Porter character really went nowhere, didn’t she? (Well, I guess she existed for yet another Godfather reference. Wasn’t Loeb just lampshading this a few issues ago?) Unfortunately, the revelations in this issue just make me go, “Meh.”
Issue #13: Please, Bruce, don’t ask where Catwoman has been. Trust me, the answer is not worth your time. Now, the Bat-Mite reference is worth our time! More of that! On another note, if the rogues gallery found the Batcave in Year 5, then why doesn’t that point come up again? (Surely the villains will have a ballpark idea of where to find it even if Batman does blow up the sewer tunnels.) I do like Sale’s take on the Robin costume, though. And you can’t go wrong with a callback to the Golden Age candlelight vow. We also learn who the Hangman is. shrug
Overall, it’s not a great series, but it’s serviceable enough. It doesn’t grate on me to the degree that its predecessor does, but it never feels as inspired as TLH, either. The murders carry more weight this time since they’re established characters from previous Batman stories, yet it’s such a copy of the previous miniseries’s formula that it starts to feel monotonous when I read them both back to back. Dick Grayson gets the short end of the bo staff, but I actually think that Harvey Dent benefits from some added characterization here.