Batman #55 Review

Written by Tom King
Pencils by Tony S. Daniel
Inks by Danny Miki
Colors by Tomeu Morey

For the avid Batman reader, saying that Tom King likes his WOW moments is like saying water is wet. Issue #55 is no different, there is a big wow moment, and it’s a whopper, but take it away and what’s left? The easy answer on a setup like that is nothing, but it’s not nothing, it’s something, but is that something enough?

The KGBeast returns to Gotham in this issue as Tom King puts together a story that follows him from the moment he lands at the airport until he gets to his target by the end of the issue. Spliced in between is the dynamic duo back in action on the rooftops of Gotham as Dick continues his attempts to recreate their old day shtick where he would crack wise at any opportunity and try to turn all the physical parts of their jobs into a competition, all for the unsolicited amusement of Bruce.

In these exchanges King attempts to dissect some of the historical discourse between the two zeroing in on the use of puns by both of them in eras such as 1966 Batman where the phrase chum was used all too often by Batman to refer to his sidekick and an observation in battle by Robin would serve as an on-the-nose play on words that was a necessary evil of the campy Batman of the swinging sixties. The problem with all of this is that most of the Batman readership do not need, or want, Tom King to prove that he is a big Batman fan who can produce lines of dialogue from previous iterations of Batman. What IS required is a story that can stand on its own two feet without the need for satire.

As an example there are a couple of lines uttered during the KGBeast coffee shop scenes where all the chatter in the place is being pulled into the story that King wants to tell, and it is unnecessarily long and drawn out because of the need to have it play out on the 9 panel grid for that particular page. Some of the dialogue that features varies in nature such as an abbreviated line by the Joker from the 1989 Batman film “You ever danced with the light” and then to a metacritical comment about himself “He’s just repeating himself ’cause he thinks that’s profound”. There are surely others on the page that this reader is unaware of, but the time and energy required to identify them is best left to the sycophants that enjoy pandering to the author, as they are of little substance.

Just like with the previous issue there were some moments where attempts at humor fell completely flat and came across as forced but conversely, also some moments and lines uttered by Dick that hit the mark and will make you smile or laugh. For a lot of comic book writers delivering a consistent joke can be quite the challenge without the subject material being mainly about self deprecation of character.

One thing that can’t be disputed is the sheer beauty that is Tony S. Daniel’s art. His illustrations of Batman, Nightwing and Commissioner Gordon are so impressive. Daniel manages to capture the quintessential look of these characters so well, and in a way that is so familiar, but at the same time unique to him. The profile panels of Batman, Nightwing and Commissioner Gordon are so detailed and so beautiful it will surely leave you wondering just how long it takes him to produce such stunning work.

Great penciling can certainly stand on its own as a sketch but this is a comic so what of the inks and color? They are both sublime and worthy of complementing Daniel’s work. Danny Miki’s inks are so purposeful and bold. There are several pages that required a contrast of dark and light to set the right mood and the best of it is on show in the apartment scenes where the KGBeast cuts quite the solitary figure.

The colors by Tomeu Morey are expertly done as well as several moods are set during the issue to put you in a particular mood while the story unfolds. Warm and bright neon shades are used throughout the issue and it looks so good in concert with the concentrated inks of Miki. The whole art team came together so well to produce something really great for this issue and they should all be very proud of their efforts.

Having only just begun to review Batman it has become apparent very quickly that Tom King stories tend to elicit some very mixed feelings. He starts off with all the right ingredients so you get excited about what might be served but then somewhere along the way he decides to change the recipe and add more of something that he really likes, but doesn’t consider whether those who will end up consuming what he’s made will even want it made in that way. It is his story though and of course he should be able to tell it in his own way, so forgive the food analogy if you don’t accept the premise.

It could be postulated that reviews of his comics easily morph from being a review of the content inside the comic to a review of the content that is possibly inside Tom King’s head.

Is this what King has wanted all along? Only he can definitively answer that question.

7 out of 10

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