Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mikel Janin & Jorge Fornes
While Knightmares wasn’t my favorite arc, I’m happy to say that it all feels worth it now. Batman #70 begins a new arc, but one that holds a heavy influence from what came before. It makes Knightmares feel justified. On top of that, it’s just a very strong issue on its own.
This issue picks up immediately after the end of #69, with Batman breaking free of the nightmares that have held him captive for so many issues. What ensues is something not at all dissimilar to Knightfall and I am Bane. Batman busts his way through Arkham Asylum, taking down a large chunk of his rogues gallery along the way. On the surface, it’s a relatively simple premise. Batman makes a real effort to demonstrate just how unfazed he is by Bane’s attempt to break him. Yet, in doing so he demonstrates that Bane was more successful than Bruce himself realizes.
Bruce seems more unhinged and brutal but doesn’t even seem to know it. Or, perhaps he does, and this whole display is more to strike fear in his enemies and put up a façade. Because we don’t go inside Bruce’s head much, it allows the reader to see things from a few different perspectives. This is what makes you want to keep reading, to find out how much is Bruce showboating, and how much Bruce has been genuinely affected by Bane’s plans.
Admittedly though, I’ve grown tired of King’s tendency to implement poetry into his stories. It’s not an inherent flaw, but it doesn’t work for me. The first and last pages are essentially just recited poetry over some great looking pages, but I find those to be the low points of the issue. It takes me out of the story, and I don’t feel like anyone just recites poetry unprompted as some of King’s characters tend to do. Granted, I can’t even tell what character is reciting said poetry in this issue, so perhaps it’s perfectly in character.
So much of why this issue works is due to the art team. Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes share the pencils, with Janin doing the majority of the pages. Each encounter with the different villains feels memorable due to Janin’s pencils. He and King throw in little touches onto each one that makes them feel distinct and interesting, despite Batman pretty much just pounding all the bad guys with his fists. The fights tend to play out in a way that you don’t exactly expect, keeping the issue feeling exciting.
Though, the switch to Fornes’ pages towards the end is a bit jarring due to the artists incredibly different styles. Despite that, the Fornes pages on their own are as gorgeous as we’ve come to expect from him. He has, in such a short time, become one of my favorite artists in the business. His eye for storytelling is nearly unrivaled, on top of just being marvelous to look at.
This issue feels like a return to form for Batman. While Knightmares had good individual issues, it ultimately felt like it killed the pacing of the book. This issue makes it all feel worth it though, by focusing on what King does best. He says a lot with a little and gives you something to think about rather than handing you all the answers on a platter. Plus, it’s fun to watch Batman punch people.
Batman (2016-) #70
This issue feels like a return to form for Batman. While Knightmares had good individual issues, it ultimately felt like it killed the pacing of the book. This issue makes it all feel worth it though, by focusing on what King does best. He says a lot with a little and gives you something to think about rather than handing you all the answers on a platter. Plus, it's fun to watch Batman punch people.