Batman: Kings of Fear #1
We open on Joker talking to a room full of goons, he knows Batman is there, if he won't come out, Joker will have to do something drastic. Suddenly Joker grabs one of his own goons, slashing his throat! Out of the shadows like a panther the Batman leaps into the group, fighting them all down in a truly spectacular progressive panel that has to be seen to be believed:
After the bad guys are vanquished, Batman helps the downed man, saving his life, but still taking the time to capture Joker. Later Batman and Joker sit in the car, Joker babbling away, much to Batman's annoyance. He uses some knockout gas on Joker and heads to the Asylum.
After they reach the Asylum, Batman is chastised for not doing more to heal the inmates, and often making their psychosis worse by enabling their worldviews by playing into their fantasies. Suddenly a clanking fills the room, Joker has opened all the cells!
Man, I wasn’t even going to buy this series, much less review it! But after a quick flip through at the LCS on NCBD (my shop dude Jeremy saved my a Sienkiewicz cover, he gets me), I knew this love letter to the 90s was my kind of book. Scott Peterson and Kelley Jones have helmed the perfect counterpoint to last years OTHER love letter to the 90s, Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan’s Bane Conquest. Enough fanboying on my part though…
The opening with Batman and Joker was very strong, partially because I haven’t been super impressed with recent portrayals of either character in Batman’s solo title or Justice League. It’s always funny when Batman and Joker get a chance to talk, and the awkward car ride is a time-honored tradition for the pair.
Interestingly Kelley Jones is not my favorite Bat artist, and the droopy long ears Batsuit is by far my least favorite of the many suits over the years. That said the long ears are fairly manageable here and he only seems to sag in a panel or two. Far more impressive than the batsuit is the rogue’s gallery, in all their 90’s regalia! (Strange that they’re in the Asylum in full costume…) I was a bit put out seeing characters like Bane and Penguin, who aren’t technically insane and haven’t been in Arkham that I can recall. Scarecrow on the last page is truly spectacular, and should just be his default suit from now on, too dang good!
I did notice a couple panels that seem weirdly unfinished I wanted to point out, I assume they’re typos? The words Batman White Knight seem to randomly appear in a completely out of place typeface at one point, and a newscast looks like a little kid drew it, I can’t tell if it’s intentional or a temp placeholder that made it into the final book for some reason.
Bottom Middle of the right-hand panel
There are several parallels between this issue and the opening scene of the video game Batman Arkham Asylum, including the talking during the car ride, Joker being taken easily, and Joker releasing all the prisoners. Every villain other than Mr Freeze, Two Face and Penguin appear in that game, although all appear in its sequels at on point or another.
It was also interesting that the Batmobile wasn’t shown in close detail, and was often seemingly intentionally obscured. I’m curious if this holds any significance, we’ll see I guess.
This mini seems to fall in the same category as Bane Conquest, taking place in post-crisis continuity possibly, which practically makes it an elseworld at this point…
A great miniseries for fans of Batman in the 90s, or new fans curious what a good Batman book looks like. I can't wait for next issue and couldn't recommend it more!
Batman: Kings of Fear #1; The Dark Knight Returns Once Again!
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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