Review – Batman: Kings of Fear #1: The Horrors of Gotham

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Batman: Kings of Fear #1 variant cover, credit to DC Comics.

Batman: Kings of Fear #1 – Scott Peterson, Writer; Kelley Jones, Artist; Michelle Madsen, Colorist

Ray – 7/10

Ray: Because Batman hasn’t gotten enough attention from DC lately, it’s time for a new stand-alone Batman miniseries! This six-issue series is written by former DC and Wildstorm editor Scott Peterson and drawn by legendary Batman artist Kelley Jones. Jones’ uniquely horror-influenced, stylized art has always been divisive, but his unmistakable style on Batman is among his most popular work. While he delivers some standout work here, this first issue has a pretty big vibe of been there, done that. It opens with yet another Batman vs. Joker battle, as Joker and his minions hold an innocent warehouse worker hostage to get Batman’s attention. When he briefly gets bored, he slits the man’s throat just before Batman arrives. One beating and a hasty save later, Batman is transporting Joker to Arkham Asylum while Joker lays a manipulative trip on him. This seems to be coming back to the common idea that Batman and Joker have some sort of weird bond, which I’ve never quite bought into.

Eye to eye with the Joker. Credit to DC Comics.

Eventually, Batman gets tired of Joker’s rambling and knocks him out with sleeping gas before they get to Arkham Asylum. Kelley Jones’ Arkham is incredibly distinctive, with some of the creepiest architecture I’ve seen in these books. I’m a little less interested in the fact that there’s a new doctor at Arkham who seems to hold Batman responsible for the fact that there’s so many costumed villains in Gotham. We’ve been through this debate before – the majority of them don’t have any ties to Batman and have their own obsessions and compulsions. There isn’t too long to debate before a massive breakout happens and Batman winds up battling Bane, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, and Killer Croc. Clearly based on a lot of those alone, this is out of continuity. However, none of them are actually the big bad of the series, which is given away in the title – this is a Scarecrow story, and once the real villain appears, Jones is able to cut loose with his art. This first issue’s story didn’t do too much for me, but I’m looking forward to seeing this creative team do something terrifying with Scarecrow.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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