There've been many complaints from comic book fans over DC's New 52 reboot. It's been proven time and again nobody likes change. However, one thing I've noticed with the Bat-Family books is a newfound dedication to fleshing out the villains and making them more menacing and disturbing than ever before. "Batman: The Dark Knight Volume 2: Cycle of Violence" is a perfect example.
"Batman: The Dark Knight Volume 2: Cycle of Violence" collects issues #10 through #15 and #0 of the series. It's made up of one story-arc and a quick look into Bruce Wayne's past. I would say this is probably one of the most focused graphic novel collections I've read in a while.
Issues #10 through #15 find Batman facing his own fears as the Scarecrow returns to Gotham City to wreak havoc. The psychotic super-villain refines his fear toxin using kidnapped children and is ready to unleash it upon the people of Gotham. The Dark Knight must simultaneously find the missing captives and save the city from sinking further into madness.
Issue #0 gives readers more of Bruce Wayne's origin story. "Chill in the Air" awards us insight into the investigation of the man who killed his parents. Our hero suspects his parents' death was not just a random mugging. There must be a more sinister motive behind it. Bruce scours Gotham City in search of the truth and may not like what he finds.
Writer Greg Hurwitz pens both stories for "Batman: The Dark Knight Volume 2: Cycle of Violence." He digs deep into the origin of the Scarecrow and gives the character deeper emotional depth. While not justifying the atrocities the criminal commits, Hurwitz adds a sympathetic layer to him. He also shows a vulnerable and softer side of Batman we don't get to see often.
David Finch skillfully handles the art for the Scarecrow story-arc. His image of the demented Dr. Jonathan Crane adds a whole new level of terror to the character. It borders on something you see in contemporary horror comics.
Artists Mico Suayan and Juan Jose Ryp illustrate issue #0. It feels as if this was split evenly between the two. The first portion of the book shows the artist's taste for shadowing and a noir flavor. The second half is more precise and not as grim. The contrast between Suayan and Ryp's styles keeps things interesting instead of acting as a distraction.
"Batman: The Dark Knight Volume 2: Cycle of Violence" is rated "T" for teens. Basically, it's the equivalent of a PG-13 rating for a movie. There're some adult situations, violence, and gruesome images.
We're treated to five pages of David Finch's penciled pages as bonus material for "Batman: The Dark Knight Volume 2: Cycle of Violence." It's always interesting to see the different levels of the creative process that go into making a comic book. These stripped down illustrations give us a glimpse at Finch's magnificent talent before color and narrative is added.
"Batman: The Dark Knight Volume 2: Cycle of Violence" is an exciting addition to the library of any fan of the Caped Crusader. If possible, it's a darker descent into the world of one of DC's greatest super heroes than we've seen before. It's a must-own graphic novel packed full of action, drama, terror, and emotion.