Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No Substance, No Character, The Batman/Daredevil Adventure King Of New York Is Just Pointless.

The Good: Fair artwork
The Bad: Pointless story, No character development, Alludes to events not in book, Reads like an advertisement.
The Basics: Daredevil makes a trip to Gotham City and Batman journeys to New York City in a pointless crossover event that is King Of New York.

In theory, I see it, of course. I see what the appeal of a Batman/Daredevil crossover would be to the respective fan bases. Both characters are dark vigilantes, both survive on their wits and both are protectors of their respective cities. But the crossover event King Of New York fails so spectacularly that neither DC nor Marvel Comics fans are likely to come away satisfied. As part of my Daredevil Year, I came across King Of New York and I was initially excited. Having just finished the pathetic 48-page comic book, I have very little to say about it.

Told in four chapters, King Of New York is a crossover event which has Daredevil making a trip to Gotham City and Batman making a trip back to New York City with Daredevil. The premise is shaky, but what is more annoying is the dialogue between the two heroes which continually alludes to the fact that this is not the first time they met. Whatever the circumstances of their first meeting were, I've not yet read that story, so in that regard, King Of New York is very off-putting.

When Catwoman steals the legal files Matt Murdock has assembled on the operations of the Kingpin, Daredevil rushes to Gotham City to try to recover them. After a brief tousle with Batman, Daredevil and Batman work together to try to track down the files. Misdirected by Catwoman, it is only Batman's detective work and scientific acumen which allow the pair to track the files successfully to the Scarecrow. But by the time they learn that the Scarecrow was the recipient of the files on Kingpin, he has skipped town to Manhattan.

In New York City, the Scarecrow betrays the Kingpin, whom he had been running weapons into New York City for. Poisoned by the weapons Scarecrow smuggled, all of the Kingpin's minions become slaves of the Scarecrow, doing his bidding and putting the squeeze on the Kingpin's operations. When Batman and Daredevil arrive, they find New York City to be a bloodbath where fear is growing and they turn to an unlikely source to aid them in stopping the Scarecrow.

The fundamental problem with King Of New York is that it entirely lacks subtlety. The story is so straightforward as to lose any chance of being rereadable and its simplicity does no great service to fans of either Daredevil or Batman. The dialogue between Batman and Daredevil reads like a series of talking points for the press about either of the two series' and that only enhances the sense that this short book was a marketing gimmick on the part of DC and Marvel. So, both men claiming their city is tougher reads as stupid bravado not worthy of a genius criminologist or a street-hardened vigilante lawyer.

Add to that, there is no character development in King Of New York. No one learns anything, there are no deeper truths revealed, there is no theme or message to this book. Instead, it is a pretty bland chase that pits a combination of DC and Marvel heroes and villains against one another. Nothing changes in either universe (which is why "King Of New York" is a pretty ridiculous title - Batman was always going to return to Gotham City, so it's clearly not a reference to him!) and readers gain no insight into either character. Even the villains are monolithic and flat.

Ultimately, this book is only saved from the absolute bottom of the rating scale by the fact that the artwork is passably good. The characters are all recognizable and the colors are bright and vividly rendered. Despite some places - like all of page fifteen - where Eduardo Barreto cheaps out on the details, most of the artwork in King Of New York is pretty good. Alan Grant could have done quite a bit more while writing the book, but King Of New York flounders because he didn't.

For other Daredevil books, please check out my reviews of:
The Essential Daredevil Volume 1
Typhoid Mary
Guardian Devil


For other comic book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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