Batman (2016-) #67
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Lee Weeks, Jorge Fornes
Batman #67 is a tough book to pin down. Rarely have I ever felt so conflicted about an issue that I would consider technically perfect. In a vacuum, this is a wonderful single issue. One that I could find myself coming back to in the future to remind myself of what a master of comic book storytelling looks like. However, as a piece of a whole whose goal should be to push the story forward, either thematically or literally, it fails. That’s because this issue is, as far as I can tell, an art showcase. It is not a story.
Okay, technically it does qualify as a story. That story, however, is this: bad guy run, Batman chase, Punchline. This very thin concept is stretched across twenty pages, and I just can’t figure out why. Obviously, it serves as a build-up to a joke. But why? The entirety of the Knightmare arc’s story is about Batman’s unstable psychological state and the nightmares that supposedly contribute to it. Yet, unlike those issues, this one doesn’t even contribute to that idea. Instead, it’s purpose is simple; to draw a parallel between Batman and a classic cartoon character. This is a fine idea that’s executed well, but why now? You could argue that Knightmares as a whole slows the pacing of the plot to a snail’s pace, and this issue doesn’t even attempt to connect itself. So, we’re left with an issue that is sandwiched in the midst an arc that already feels unnecessary.
What makes things more confusing is how enjoyable it is despite that. Sometimes when you pick up an issue that has artists with as much talent as Lee Weeks and Jorge Fornes, the story’s intent is solely to showcase their talents. They often feel like excuses to have these artists draw something amazing, yet this issue makes no such excuse. It is a gorgeous demonstration of the abilities of these artists, and it makes no attempt to hide its intentions. It presents us with minimal word balloons and instead has Weeks and Fornes going absolutely nuts. This is one of those issues that is so well-crafted it could be used as a tool for teaching sequential art. It is genuinely perfect in terms of comics storytelling.
Something that stands out to me about the art is that there are two artists working on this book. I know that because of the cover, but if I hadn’t known that I would have never realized it myself. Weeks and Fornes’ style compliment each other so perfectly that I barely notice the transition between the two of them. Both styles are so full of Cooke and Mazzucchelli influence that they fit together perfectly. The flow of the chase remains uninterrupted despite the transition between artists. That is no simple task.
While I don’t know If I can say I liked Batman #67, I can’t say that I didn’t, either. Instead, it perplexes me. There is no doubt that from a craft standpoint this is an amazing issue. At the same time, it does absolutely nothing in terms of plot or character. It makes no attempt to connect itself to the overall run, or even the story arc it’s a part of. This outstanding action sequence stretches across twenty pages, and it leaves you empty. This is an issue I won’t soon forget, and that is equal parts due to my frustration and my adoration.
Batman (2016-) #67
This outstanding action sequence stretches across twenty pages, and it leaves you empty. This is an issue I won’t soon forget, and that is equal parts due to my frustration and my adoration.