Writer: Tom King
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Tom King’s ‘Knightmares’ arc – a mixed bag of somewhat standalone issues – finally comes to its conclusion. Issue #69 mostly explains what we’ve suspected from the start, that Batman’s enemies have trapped him in his mind using a variant of Scarecrow’s fear toxin. It also retroactively ties all the (k)nightmares in a more coherent and meaningful way. But more on that later.
The artist of choice for this issue is Yanick Paquette, most recently known for his work on Wonder Woman: Earth One with Grant Morrison. One of the main selling points of ‘Knightmares’ has been the collaboration with various veteran and well-known artist, and Paquette is definitely one of the better active artists. The majority of the issue sees Batman and Catwoman sharing a dance through various locales from their long history, donning many of their historic costumes. It’s a treat to look at and it flows beautifully. Nathan Fairbairn’s colour work adds to the overall dreamy atmosphere and greatly compliments the look and feel of the dance.
However, the secondary plotline is a bit lacking. This issue offers a look at bare-naked Bane and a somewhat clothed Thomas Wayne (!) sparring in Arkham Asylum, discussing their masterplan. The fight looks clunky, the characters have some weird faces and the exchange isn’t that interesting. It’s just a dull scene through and through. It’s especially baffling when you take into consideration just how amazing the dance is.
Now, let’s take a look at how the issue concludes the ‘Knightmares’ story arc. There are some spoiler ahead so just skip to the end of the review if you want to avoid them.
I have warned you.
So like I said, the majority of the issue is Bruce and Selina sharing their wedding dance that never was while having a dialogue about the events that unfolded during this arc. Basically, Batman got dosed with Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Now, early in his career, Bruce realized that the only way to escape its effects is to embrace the fear and confront it head-on. What this means is you have to find your biggest fear and tackle it. So, each chapter was just Bruce trying to find his biggest fear, but not having success. Or being successful, but getting a bigger dosage of the toxin, so he had to deal with another fear? I’m not sure, it’s all kinda left in the air, which I don’t really mind.
Anyway, the biggest fear ends up being that the only thing that he can ever truly love is his vow. His vow and his suicide – being Batman and fighting crime. This is not a novel idea, King isn’t walking some new and unexplored grounds. But it is a nice execution, especially when you consider the overarching plot he has been building to during the majority of his run.
And speaking of the overarching plot – the ‘Knightmares’ arc finally makes some sense. I reviewed the first chapter of the arc back in January, issue #62, and I concluded that it wasn’t a good issue on its own, but it might end up being relevant in the bigger picture. And it (kinda) did. Like the complete arc, it definitely makes way more sense after reading the conclusion. But that still doesn’t change the fact that the arc is dragged out and could have been much more dynamic and interesting if it was trimmed down to just a couple of issues.
In conclusion, issue #69 ended up somewhat justifying the last four months of the main Batman book. It made the arc not be a complete waste of everyone’s time. King reminds us that he has a story worth telling, and he does so while backed by some great artwork.
Now let’s see what the hell is going on with Thomas Wayne running around Gotham, operating from Arkham Asylum. Still can’t wrap my mind around that. Hope it’s good.
Batman (2016-) #69
Despite some serious hiccups in the overall story arc, King reminds us that he has a story worth telling, and he does so backed up by some great artwork.