That is the question brought to mind by this final issue of The Dark Knight preceding the reboot. After four meandering, incomprehensible, and sometimes downright awful installments of this series, we see Jason Fabok pick up the artistic slack while writer/artist David Finch finally sets his sights on wrapping up his critically-panned Batman title in an acceptable manner. The result is simultaneously surprising and infuriating.
After rescuing Dawn Golden from a preposterous scheme hatched by the Penguin, Batman is out of the frying pan and into Dante's Inferno as a legion of demons unleashed by Blaze, aided by Etrigan and a possessed Ragman, attempt to take Dawn back. Most of the developments in this chapter are absolutely inexplicable, but Finch takes that fact in stride. It's obvious that he's not so concerned with getting this story told anymore, just getting it finished. Honestly, this book is all the better for it. If taken as a stand alone issue, the lack of cohesion is almost permissible. Finch even waxes poetic, though his work borders on derivative. It's still interesting to finally see him spread his wings as a scribe.
I'm reminded of an interview Finch did before this series began, in which he talked about drawing the interiors to each issue first and then scripting them afterward. That immediately sent up warning flags, warning flags which were later justified by the awful creative mess that Finch's Dark Knight embodied. With Fabok on pencils, we see David Finch settle into a more traditional writing role, one that plots the book's course in an intelligible way, even if just for a single issue. So, what could this title have been if Finch had approached it from this direction from the very beginning? As I mentioned previously, it's infuriating to think that The Dark Knight could have actually been something readable, even interesting, if Finch had taken it somewhat seriously from the start.
Jason Fabok's art is refreshing. He plays fast and loose with Finch/Lee/McFarlane styles, evoking the detail that was missing from Finch's interiors earlier in the book's development, all the while keeping his work fluid and interesting. It's not perfect, and his consistency leaves something to be desired, but some of his panels are just cool enough to disarm your misgivings about this series.