Review – Batman #55: Countdown to Tragedy

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Batman #55 variant cover, credit to DC Comics.

Batman #55 – Tom King, Writer; Tony Daniel, Penciller; Danny Miki, Inker; Tomeu Morey, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Predictable

Ray: Batman #55 is a high-quality comic where not much happens, all leading up to a shocking moment that’s been spoiled six ways from Sunday weeks before the issue comes out. That’s the problem here – DC and unrelated sources essentially stepped on everything this issue was building towards, and that changes the way the story is read. It opens with the main villain of the arc, KGBeast (likely working on behalf of Bane), entering the country on false pretenses. The one-armed assassin, last seen in Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman, slowly goes about his business in Gotham, checking into a hotel, watching TV, and purchasing a high-powered sniper rifle. It’s clear that he’s building towards shooting someone, but the taciturn villain doesn’t give away who his target is. King, as always, is very good at calling our attention towards the little things – a scene of KGBeast at a diner, surrounded by countless little bits of dialogue, is one of the issue’s best scenes. That’s one half of the issue, splitting its attention every page or two with the other side of the story.

That other half would be Batman and Nightwing on patrol, continuing from the new dynamic we saw between the two of them in last issue’s done-in-one. King has a very good handle on the father-son relationship, and his Nightwing dialogue is excellent – it doesn’t hurt that he was one of the character’s most memorable writers in his run on Grayson. The two of them are having a standard night of fights, including a battle with what appears to be an army of mummies. It’s been spoiled that King is doing a King Tut story in a few issues, and I can’t wait to see how he handles the campy Batman ‘66 villain.

But the fun dialogue and action are leading to an inevitably tragic conclusion, as Batman and Nightwing answer a call from Commissioner Gordon – and mid-quip, Dick is shot in the head by the KGBeast’s sniper rifle in the cliffhanger. We know Dick is going to survive, but he’s not going to be the same, so this is likely the last we’ll see of this dynamic for a while. We also know that this status quo change has likely caused Ben Percy to leave Nightwing and be replaced by Scott Lobdell. Given that, this issue feels high-quality but somewhat disappointing.

Father and son. Credit to DC Comics.

Corrina: Once upon a time, when Identity Crisis #1 was released, I gave it to my 12-year-old daughter to read. She read it, tossed it aside, and said “My God, Mom, could that be any more obvious about what’s going to happen?” Meaning, the story was absolutely predictable in that Sue would be dead by issue’s end.

That’s what reading this issue felt like.

Even without the spoilers, with Batman and Nightwing acting all happy and friendly and even making jokes together? It’s a blinking neon sign that something horrible is going to happen. The only difference with the spoilers is that they erase the chance of the victim being Batman. There are little touches with KGBeast, true, that are nice, but it’s not enough to hide my distaste for how predictable this is plotted or for the developments with Dick Grayson.

And now a very changed Dick will be in the hands of writer Scott Lobdell, who is used to writing darker Bat-themes in Red Hood & the Outlaws, a book I can’t abide because Lobdell can’t seem to write female characters well. I won’t be reviewing his run on Nightwing because of his history of harassing a fellow panelist at a con.

We’re definitely back in Identity Crisis/New 52 darkness at DC. Don’t expect any heroes to be happy for a long time, readers.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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