The Once and Future King part 6
It's all come down to this! Scarecrow has steadily broken Batman down psychologically, bit by bit, until finally making him question everything he holds dear. The Dark Knight wins the day, of course, but is it at the cost of the self-confidence necessary to wage his nightly war on crime?
After the last three issues spun their wheels, navel-gazed, and generally could have been condensed down in a major way, Batman: Kings of Fear comes to a surprisingly quiet, somber, and thought-provoking conclusion. All of the Scarecrow’s mindgames finally affect Batman in a major way after he becomes convinced that his presence in Gotham has been more detrimental than helpful:
The issue is full of wonderful, character-driven moments not only for Batman, but for supporting cast members such as Jim Gordon (above) and stalwart butler Alfred:
Heck, even a couple of minor supporting characters get some great moments that serve to bolster Batman’s crisis of confidence. And it never feels self-indulgent.
The premise, of course, requires suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Of course Batman will regain his confidence by the end, and continue his war on criminals. It’s what he does, so naturally the ending is never in question. But what writer Scott Peterson deftly asks the reader is to do is bear witness to Batman not only having a moment of crushing self-doubt, but to being – dare I say it? – human in the process. It’s a bold move, and I’m happy to say, Peterson succeeds with aplomb.
But let’s be honest: the most applause should be reserved for the one and only Kelley Jones, who, after several years of less-than-he’s-capable-of art, returns to absolute top form for this project (which, let’s face it, was stretched to six issues for the sole purpose of highlighting that art, but I digress). It cannot be overstated, though, just how unique a talent he is, and any comic lucky enough to have him is worth a look. (For the sake of fairness, I’ll concede that his art isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but to each their own.)
For its finale, Kings of Fear looked inwardly, and turned out one of the most fulfilling finales to a Batman story in recent memory. It may have meandered a bit along the way, but in the end, much like Batman's Quixotic quest itself, it was worth it the journey.
Batman: Kings of Fear #6 (of 6) – What Nightmares May Come
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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