By: David Finch (writer, artist), Scott Williams (inker), Alex Sinclair (colorist)

The Story: The Golden Dawn, Part One: Dawn Golden, a childhood friend, if not a childhood fascination, of Bruce Wayne’s, has disappeared. Gotham’s finest aren’t getting anywhere with the case and Batman puts off a lot of other important Bat-work to embark on this personal quest.

What’s Good: David Finch’s visuals were stunning. The level of detail in background (check out the broken glass on Croc’s head), the gadgets (check out the Bat-Cave) and people (throughout the whole book) was right up there, while the dynamism of posture and panel layout made the whole issue feel like it was in movement (even though there was only one fight scene). Finch’s Gotham is dark and worn down, but real, unlike the psychologically-disturbed Gotham we’d find through Frazer Irving. The grit, realism and lack of exaggeration in the art tells us that this is a hard-boiled, noir crime story with the cowled detective in his element and his obsession. I have to say that I also really liked Finch’s take on Killer Croc and Penguin. Neither has ever looked better or more menacing to me.

On the writing side, Finch did everything he needs to do to propel a new mini-series into action. He set up the deep and personal relationship between the detective and the victim, he put society and its pressures into play, added mysterious opponents and traps, and ended on a cliffhanger. While I thought yet-another-personally-connected-damsel-in-distress (you’ll recall we’ve got the Cornell’s Absence arc happening in Batman and Robin at the same time) to be a bit tired, Finch made it work to really drive up Bruce’s normally obsessive personality and make the reader *really* want the bad guy. I bought into the knight-errant-on-a-quest story. The repulsiveness of some of the details (I can’t give spoilers) of the crime raised the stakes and had me wanting more.

What’s Not So Good: There were a few places where the action was a bit hard to follow, as if the camera had zoomed in too close, but this may be Finch exploiting the hard-boiled form where a certain amount of chaos in the story and confusion on the part of the reader are essential to the experience. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the issue.

Conclusion: I’m more of a Grayson-Batman fan than a Wayne-Batman fan, but Finch hooked me very personally to Bruce’s newest quest and I’m signing on for the whole ride. Pick it up. The art alone is worth the price of admission.

Grade: A

-DS Arsenault