Writer(s): Tom King.
Illustrator(s): Travis Moore, Mitch Gerads, Mikel Janín, Jorge Fornes, Lee Weeks, Amanda Conner, Dan Panosia, John Timms and Yanick Paquette.
Colourist(s): Tamra Bonvillain, Mitch Gerads, Jordie Bellaire, Dave Stewart, Lovern Kindzierski, Paul Mounts, John Timms and Nathan Fairbairn.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Paperback (Read in Single Issues).
Release Date: September 17th 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆.
Previously on DC Universe Rebirth’s Batman:
Batman (Vol. 1) I Am Gotham by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 1.5.) Night of the Monster Men by Steve Orlando
Batman (Vol. 2) I Am Suicide by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 3) I Am Bane by Tom King
Batman/The Flash (Vol. 3.5) The Button by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 4) The War of Jokes and Riddles by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 5) Rules of Engagement by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 6) Bride or Burglar by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 7) The Wedding by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 8) Cold Days by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 9) The Tyrant Wings by Tom King
Following the recent announcement that Tom King will be handing over the reins of the canonical Batman comic book series to writer James Tynion IV, artist Tony S. Daniel, inker Danny Miki, and colourist Tomeu Morey, as of issue #86, the grand finale to his tumultuous run will soon come to an end and every story arc going forward will be just as important as those he has given fans so far. With the past couple of volumes, especially those that came after the tragic wedding story arc that launched Batman into a spiral of madness, have been a bit messy with short stories being collected without any sense of elaborating a coherent trade paperback. It’s now only a matter of time before Tom King finally delivers something substantial but, unfortunately, Knightmares continues down a path that is a bit alarming but hopefully rewarding in the long run.
What is Batman: Knightmares about? Collecting Batman issues #61-63 and 66-69, this story arc is a set of short stories that explores Bruce Wayne’s recent tragedies, tough decisions, and mistakes. Featuring a different artist with each issue, Tom King looks into bringing a scalpel to Batman’s mind as Gotham’s Dark Knight fights off the intangible forces at work and tries to grasp the reality he’s in. With no way to understand what he’s going through, he’s forced to live in the moment and ultimately accept the impending defeat. From encountering Pyg to confronting Constantine, this wild ride is one that he will have to embrace by asking the questions that he has never dared to bring up.
I tried really hard to appreciate the direction Tom King wanted to take this story arc but I couldn’t settle for what ended up being a story with poor execution but a good idea at its foundation. With the recent tragedies that Bruce Wayne has been through, it is a fantastic idea to slowly break the Bat after having him invest in people that he normally would never allow himself to attach himself to. With this story arc, Tom King tried to explore different nightmares that are somewhat connected to him but not sufficiently explicit for readers to understand the underlying guideline. In fact, for stories that are supposed to be the worse nightmares lived by Bruce Wayne, these felt so much more tamed, controlled and manipulated—which might have been the intent but who knows—to the point where they felt like alternate universes with a moral, whereas Bruce Wayne’s nightmare should be more in the field of horror, fear, and insanity. if you ask me. Not to mention that some of the stories (nightmares) featured here are irrelevant and superficial.
Then comes the issue with the artwork. Deep down, I saw where the intention was by bringing in different artists for each issue, as each issue depicts a different nightmare, it is reasonable to change the tone and atmosphere with each. Unfortunately, half of the visual styles employed were unimpressive and barely had any apprehension of what constructions of the mind, such as dreams and nightmares, actually were. My favourite of all of these was probably the work accomplished by artist Mitch Gerads whose style works accordingly with Tom King’s ideas and was the closest of all the nightmares to be both incomprehensible and fundamental to understanding the confusion and chaos in Bruce’s mind.
I think this story arc could only be seen as a setup to what’s to come. After all, the reason why issues #64-65 were excluded was because Tom King had to give those to Joshua Williamson for tie-in stories for his controversial Heroes in Crisis mini-series. Maybe now that he’s back from this short break, things might finally get interesting.
Batman: Knightmares is a choppy and lacunary collection of nightmares, exploring Bruce Wayne’s psyche following recent tragedies.