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Legends of the Dark Knight [Archive] - DVD Talk Forum
 
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DVD Reviews

View Full Version : Legends of the Dark Knight


Travis McClain
07-20-10, 01:12 PM
My local Half Price Books has a section of comic books, and about a month ago I took the time to browse. On a whim, I bought a few back issues of Legends of the Dark Knight that I never owned, and that kind of got me re-energized about that series. Since then, I've bought probably 30 or so back issues, sometimes replacing issues I used to own but mostly acquiring issues I've never had.

It's a shame that DC abandoned the title, because it's perfect for a reader like me that's grown tired of the multi-title crossover epics. Any given story in this title is self-contained (with the rare exception) and any references to other story elements are made clear enough that the uninformed can follow easily. I'm not going to spend the kind of money on back issues that I would have back in my collecting days, but I have to say it's been fun so far to track down these older issues--many of them 15-20 years old now. I even have a memo on my phone that lists the issues I'm looking for, and I haven't carried a "to buy" list in ages.

Spinning off from this, I've also re-bought the issues of Shadow of the Bat I used to own (I stopped reading after "Zero Hour"). I always liked that title, but it never quite eclipsed the artistic quality of LotDK.

madcougar
07-20-10, 03:14 PM
I think that the book started out strong with a really interesting premise. Get great creators to tell Batman stories out of continuity. For me it lost it's charm pretty quickly as 1. it went from great creators to no so great, and the stories for me were not as interesting as I would hope considering that the creators had carte blanc and did not have to stay within continuity.

dx23
07-20-10, 09:09 PM
What a coincidence, since I was revisiting this series a couple of days ago and was wondering why did it get canceled. This series was great in terms of artistic quality and story wise. It's sad that DC decided to refocus almost all their superhero comics to mostly crossovers.

stingermck
07-20-10, 11:44 PM
What a coincidence, since I was revisiting this series a couple of days ago and was wondering why did it get canceled.

The title was discontinued with issue #214, in January 2007, to make way for a new Batman anthology series, Batman Confidential, which focuses on more personal events in Batman's life (first encounters, building of new technology etc.), rather than early crime-fighting tales.

Travis McClain
07-21-10, 12:08 AM
I always felt when reading LotDK that I was reading a more advanced level of Batman story. Maybe I wasn't, but the fact that it wasn't sold at gas stations or grocery stores, carried that higher price tag and not a CCA approval all told me it wasn't "off-the-rack" Batman. And I always liked that it wasn't linked to Batman or Detective Comics at all. Maybe that was part of the appeal; it spoke to my inner snob, that wanted to be part of a more exclusive readership. I know admitting that makes me pretty shallow and petty, but in my defense I was an adolescent at the time (which is to say, my entire world was pretty shallow and petty).

I also liked that stories could be Elseworlds-type tales from time to time, showing us Batman in different time periods and such. I wasn't a huge fan of those kinds of stories as a rule, but every now and again it was nice to break away from "Year One"-era Gotham, or even away from modern times at all. The only thing I wish they'd have done more of with that title would be the occasional Golden or Silver Age style goofy tale. I know it would have been incongruous with the more sophisticated nature of the title, but it always seemed to me that Batman is the one character that can be interpreted in any fashion and still work. That there are still ardent fans of the Adam West era in the Christopher Nolan era is proof positive of this to my mind, and I would have liked to have seen some of those more lighthearted takes on Batman. Maybe that's why I always appreciated the appearances of Bat-Mite.

The other thing that always kind of stuck with me about this title was how rarely big name villains appeared. It seemed (at least during the first 100 or so issues, when I was a regular reader) that virtually none of the Rogues Gallery appeared in those pages. I still recall issue #50, "Images," depicting Batman's first encounter with The Joker, and that was preceded by one of my favorite Bat-stories of all time, the four-part "Heat" in which Catwoman figured prominently, but I can't say I recall Riddler, Penguin, Scarecrow or Ra's al Ghul at all. There was a two-parter with Poison Ivy, and I seem to recall Harvey Dent appeared maybe, but of course not as Two-Face.

And it worked because it pitted Batman against more plausible enemies; thugs working for organized crime bosses, corrupt cops, etc. And, I think the absence of those villains helped set the title apart from the more mainstream Bat-titles; the implication being that this was a title that didn't rely on stunt appearances to sustain readership. Hell, the series opened with a five-parter called "Shaman" in which we see Bruce Wayne caught in a mess involving a shaman from Alaska he met during his pre-Batman training period. Think about this for a second. They launched the series in 1989 to cash in on the buzz from the release of Tim Burton's movie and the first five issues feature not The Joker, or someone comparable, but...an Indian shaman and a sniper. It seems so anti-climactic that I have to admire the audacity of the launch. Can you imagine an idea like that being approved in the era where comic books have become a peripheral element of the circus that is San Diego Comic-Con?

TheMadFapper
07-24-10, 10:50 AM
You guys have it wrong about LOTDK not being in continuity being Elseworld's stories and such. When it first came out it was made clear in numerous interviews that the stories in LOTDK were all in continuity, but had all happened in Bruce Wayne's/Batman's past. Of course that led to some problems with the usual crowd of spazzoids whing and trying to fit said stories into an actual timeline. LOTDK did set up the qwhole KnightsEnd/KnightQuest storyline a few years in advance with 5 issue venom storyline, which did not feature Bane at all. What was intriguing about the series intiially was that it was set up to have self contained 5 issue storylines/arcs with continuity within those five issues but no further. Much much later, the series started to be tied in with present day Batman storylines.

Travis McClain
07-24-10, 03:10 PM
You guys have it wrong about LOTDK not being in continuity being Elseworld's stories and such. When it first came out it was made clear in numerous interviews that the stories in LOTDK were all in continuity, but had all happened in Bruce Wayne's/Batman's past. Of course that led to some problems with the usual crowd of spazzoids whing and trying to fit said stories into an actual timeline. LOTDK did set up the qwhole KnightsEnd/KnightQuest storyline a few years in advance with 5 issue venom storyline, which did not feature Bane at all. What was intriguing about the series intiially was that it was set up to have self contained 5 issue storylines/arcs with continuity within those five issues but no further. Much much later, the series started to be tied in with present day Batman storylines.

No one ever said the entire series was out of continuity, or that it was one big "Elseworlds." What I said was that I enjoyed that the series's structure allowed for stories to be told that were out of continuity, or from time to time included some "Elseworlds" type tales. That the stories were part of the main continuity was never in dispute, and I'm well aware of the role "Venom" played in the overall mythos. Part of the "KnightQuest" and "KnightsEnd" stories were told in LotDK. It was a big deal at the time because until those stories, the title had been distinctly segregated from the rest of the Bat-books. Go back and read the letters columns and you should find some apprehension being expressed about the effect that might have on the book, longterm.

Afterwards, yes, it became increasingly common that the setting for LotDK stories became the "present" day. This was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, DC did it because it was felt that newer readers neglected the title because they didn't feel it was necessary; that its early years setting made it expendable on their shopping list. On the other hand, once stories became more regularly set alongside the other Bat-books, longtime readers like myself felt it had abandoned its roots and no longer offered us what we once valued in it.

I can tell you, I stopped reading every mainstream DC book after "Zero Hour." I felt their "jumping on" event was my "jumping off" point. I kept up with Green Lantern, because I'd just had the chance to meet Kyle Rayner and liked the kid and what Ron Mars was doing with him. I also kept reading Legends of the Dark Knight because it wasn't affected by "Zero Hour" in the same way at all. In fact, its general post-"Year One" setting allowed writers to entirely ignore that anything had happened...because it hadn't happened yet. It was business as usual in those pages, and that's why I kept reading. Until, eventually, business as usual began to resemble the usual business of the other books I'd already abandoned.

In fact, I think the big warning sign came for me when they changed the font to reflect that used in the live action movies directed by Joel Schumacher. I don't bring this up to knock on those movies, which has been done do death and back, but rather to note that someone at DC felt the title needed a bit of a makeover to show that it, too, was a relevant Bat-book and not some kind of anthology of apocrypha. Those changes were more than superficial, though, and that's when I stopped reading. I know from conversations I've had over the years that I wasn't alone in making that decision at that time for that reason.

Welcome to the forum.

TheMadFapper
07-27-10, 09:35 AM
No one ever said the entire series was out of continuity, or that it was one big "Elseworlds." What I said was that I enjoyed that the series's structure allowed for stories to be told that were out of continuity, or from time to time included some "Elseworlds" type tales. That the stories were part of the main continuity was never in dispute, and I'm well aware of the role "Venom" played in the overall mythos. Part of the "KnightQuest" and "KnightsEnd" stories were told in LotDK. It was a big deal at the time because until those stories, the title had been distinctly segregated from the rest of the Bat-books. Go back and read the letters columns and you should find some apprehension being expressed about the effect that might have on the book, longterm.

Afterwards, yes, it became increasingly common that the setting for LotDK stories became the "present" day. This was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, DC did it because it was felt that newer readers neglected the title because they didn't feel it was necessary; that its early years setting made it expendable on their shopping list. On the other hand, once stories became more regularly set alongside the other Bat-books, longtime readers like myself felt it had abandoned its roots and no longer offered us what we once valued in it.

I can tell you, I stopped reading every mainstream DC book after "Zero Hour." I felt their "jumping on" event was my "jumping off" point. I kept up with Green Lantern, because I'd just had the chance to meet Kyle Rayner and liked the kid and what Ron Mars was doing with him. I also kept reading Legends of the Dark Knight because it wasn't affected by "Zero Hour" in the same way at all. In fact, its general post-"Year One" setting allowed writers to entirely ignore that anything had happened...because it hadn't happened yet. It was business as usual in those pages, and that's why I kept reading. Until, eventually, business as usual began to resemble the usual business of the other books I'd already abandoned.

In fact, I think the big warning sign came for me when they changed the font to reflect that used in the live action movies directed by Joel Schumacher. I don't bring this up to knock on those movies, which has been done do death and back, but rather to note that someone at DC felt the title needed a bit of a makeover to show that it, too, was a relevant Bat-book and not some kind of anthology of apocrypha. Those changes were more than superficial, though, and that's when I stopped reading. I know from conversations I've had over the years that I wasn't alone in making that decision at that time for that reason.

Welcome to the forum.

Thanks for the welcome and I apologize if I seemed to come off a bit harsh. As for your stopping simply because the logo of the book changed and in your eyes became more superficial, isn't that a bit superficial on your own part? It's not like the change in logo meant that the stories inside were vetted by Schumaker or folks out in Hollywood.

Travis McClain
07-27-10, 12:59 PM
As for your stopping simply because the logo of the book changed and in your eyes became more superficial, isn't that a bit superficial on your own part? It's not like the change in logo meant that the stories inside were vetted by Schumaker or folks out in Hollywood.

Those changes were more than superficial, though, and that's when I stopped reading.

Not sure I could have said it any more clearly than that, and I'm loathe to defend myself against an accusation of being superficial, but since you brought it up, here you go:

It wasn't that I expected the title was somehow an extension of those films, but rather that it reflected an editorial change in the title to make it more like the rest of the Bat-books. The stories became more frequently set in the "present day," and big name supervillains became more prominent. The logo change was superficial, yes, but it was part and parcel of this change in direction. Effectively, it quit being the book I loved and became just another Bat-book on the market. To borrow from President Reagan, "I didn't leave Legends of the Dark Knight. Legends of the Dark Knight left me."