Batman: The Knight #5 – Chip Zdarsky, Writer; Carmine Di Giandomenico, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: If Tom Taylor is DC’s hottest writer at the moment, Chip Zdarsky could be the one next in line for that title, as he takes over Batman in a few months. We’re getting a preview of his run in this flashback series, and it’s setting up one for the ages. Fresh off his encounter with a malevolent Martial arts master in the mountains, Bruce and his enigmatic new ally Anton have found themselves in even worse straits. In search of a mysterious ex-KGB master of disguise named Avery, the two have been captured by the Russian special forces and are being subjected to brutal tortures and threats to see who breaks first. This is an incredibly tense segment—and one with a brilliant twist ending that reveals just how good Avery is at what she does, and how far she’ll go to test someone’s loyalty before she gives them her secrets. And so begins the best training adventure of Bruce’s life so far.
We’ve seen Bruce make use of disguises over his tenure—usually the hilarious “Matches Malone”—and this is a great origin story for those tools. With the story being set in Russia, the stakes are higher than usual, as one wrong move for Bruce or Anton could end with them back in a Russian prison—and Avery doesn’t play nice with her proteges. The centerpiece of the issue is a tense, competitive battle between the two trainees amid a Russian society party, with a book containing information on vulnerable Russian agents at risk. Anton is smoother, but Bruce may be more ruthless, and the two of them make both great rivals and great allies. And maybe more, if a brief segment before the ending is to be believed. This is another fantastic installment that takes Bruce a little closer to being Batman, and it’s great that Zdarsky is setting up his own take on Batman long before he gets to write his main title.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.