Will the Dark Knight ever wake from this dream?
Is there a minimum amount of story content a comic book is obligated to deliver? When it comes to the latest Batman storyline, DC doesn’t seem to think so. “Knightmares” has certainly has its moments over the past few months (issue #66 in particular), but the arc as a whole has been a huge momentum killer for the series. Batman #67 is easily the worst offender so far. Why is so much room being devoted to such a seemingly straightforward conflict? Why is this chapter in particular so barren and devoid of meaningful insight into Batman’s current state of mind?
This issue is all the more disappointing given that it’s basically a sequel to the surprisingly excellent Batman/Elmer Fudd #1. That’s true both in terms of certain character cameos and the fact that writer Tom King reunites with artist Lee Weeks. But as fun as it is to see these realistic, noir-flavored riffs on Looney Tunes icons again, they really are just bit players in a story that boils down to one, prolonged chase sequence. This issue is almost entirely devoid of plot and dialogue, instead fixating on Batman’s relentless pursuit of his silent, masked foe.
This puts a heavy burden on Weeks and Jorge Fornes to make up for the barebones story with eye-catching imagery. The duo succeed about as well as could be hoped in that regard. Their chase scenes have a terrific sense of momentum and force. They constantly draw the eye from left to right and then down as Batman and his prey crash through walls and windows and hurdle down fire escapes and sheer drops. The artists have little trouble conveying the true significance of this chapter of “Knightmares.” This is a story about Batman descending further and further into his own subconscious and being unnerved by what he finds at the end of the chase.
But is that really enough? As well as Weeks and Fornes bring life to this visual metaphor, there’s not much variety to be found in their work. After so many scenes of Batman crashing through walls and soaring off rooftops, the chase begins to lose its impetus. This action-heavy approach also makes it more difficult for the two artists to focus on what they arguably do best – generate mood.
And really, after so many chapters of “Knightmares,” should this story be able to offer something deeper than “Batman is a prisoner of his own mind”? It’s not apparent how this issue adds anything new or substantive to a story that was already feeling stretched past the breaking point. The hope is that readers will be able to look back and see how each issue contributed to the larger whole. It’s happened before with this series where individual issues read better in the context of the completed story. Still, it’s hard to see that being the case here. Batman #67 reads like a filler story that could be skipped without any negative impact on the series as a whole.