Batman: Kings of Fear #2 – Scott Peterson, Writer; Kelley Jones, Artist; Michelle Madsen, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Fantastic. This Is the Batman I Want
Ray: Scott Peterson and Kelley Jones’ new Batman miniseries feels more like an art book spotlighting Jones’ unique versions of the Gotham villains than anything else, as two issues in the art is incredible but the plot is VERY thin.
When we last left off, Batman had battled his way out of an Arkham breakout and taken down most of his villains – only to be met by the mastermind behind the breakout, Scarecrow. When the issue begins, Scarecrow forces Batman to face his darkest memories from his past, including the death of Robin and his injuries at Bane’s hands. Nothing, though, is scarier than the way Jones draws Scarecrow – an inhuman horror made of straw. Batman is so entrapped by the visions that he nearly attacks Jim Gordon when he tries to restrain him, but stops just short. He then chases after Scarecrow’s hostage, an Arkham employee named Kenneth Rhee. The dialogue is sparse, but the few lines make it clear just how much Scarecrow has gotten under Batman’s skin.
The second half of the issue doesn’t have quite the same punch for most of it. Batman breaks into an apartment building in search of Rhee but nearly winds up assaulting the landlord instead. This version of Batman sure seems to punch first and ask questions later. I do like Batman interacting with random civilians and seeing how they view him. However, the issue’s real highlight comes near the end, when Batman – still under Scarecrow’s influence – hallucinates a building coming to life as some sort of massive specter. The problem is, that visual is also replicated on the cover, ruining the issue’s impact. That’s a consistent issue with DC spoiling the best moments of issues on the cover. By the end of the issue, Batman’s face to face with Scarecrow again, ready to engage him in battle – and maybe, face some of his own demons. It’s a great-looking comic, but we’re a third of the way through the series and it really feels like almost nothing has happened.
Corrina: This story is a classic example of a writer allowing the artist to display all their storytelling talents. Jones has long been a premier talent and Peterson seems to know exactly how much room he needs to display those skills. There are numerous silent panels, making this almost read like an animated adventure (save Jones’ art is far different stylistically than Batman: The Animated Series.)
That focus pulls the reader into the images makes it immersive.
That is what makes this a great classic Batman story. This is a better, more surreal use of Scarecrow than in Batman Beyond’s most recent issue, and it’s a more atmospheric mystery than what Robinson is trying to do right now in Detective Comics.
For example, take the conversation and almost confrontation between Gordon and Batman. It ends with a close-up of Gordon’s face, and that panel conveys so much of Gordon’s concern and wariness regarding the Caped Crusader. I’ve never seen a close-up of Gordon in that manner before. Similarly, the conversation between Batman and the building superintendent in which Batman is fired upon is about a page, but in that quick appearance, the superintendent becomes a full person and not simply an obstacle to Batman’s quest.
I loved everything about this issue.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.