The “Knightmares” arc wasn’t as successful as it should have been. The story arc started off strong but it ended up overstaying its welcome. It got to the point that we were going around in circles with what Tom King intended “Knightmares” to serve as part of his greater narrative. Now that Batman has been able to finally escape the nightmare scenario and faced the answer he did not want to face with Catwoman we can move on what comes next. And what comes next looks to be Batman facing off against a large portion of his rogues gallery. Will this lead him to the big face-off against Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne? Let’s find out with Batman #70.
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Batman escapes the nightmare machine Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne put him in.
The Riddler greets Batman and tells him a riddle to answer. Batman does not waste time and immediately takes The Riddler out.
While walking out Batman comes across Calendar Man. Calendar Man mocks Batman for having to fight through Arkham Asylum again. Batman is not amused and knocks Calendar Man out.
As he continues to make his way through Arkham Asylum Batman takes out other villains such as Hush, Mad Hatter, Zsasz and Man-Bat. As he does that Batman tells Bane, who he believes is watching everything, that if Bane’s plot was to destroy him with dreams he forgot that Batman is the nightmare.
Batman eventually comes across Mr. Freeze. Batman reminds Mr. Freeze about all the times he was able to break out of all of Freeze’s plans that involved putting him in ice. Batman then knocks Mr. Freeze out, commenting that makes things easier.
Elsewhere the Ventriloquist tells Bane that Batman will soon be facing off against Scarecrow. Bane asks Ventriloquist if he feels joy moving a puppet around everyday. The Ventriloquist answers that it is not everyday but some days.
At a long hallway Scarecrow attacks Batman from behind and hits him with fear gas. Batman kicks Scarecrow off him. When Scarecrow comes to he is immediately scared when Batman thanks him for all the fun. Scarecrow screams when he discovers Batman is behind him.
A little later Batman comes across Amygdala and Solomon Grundy, both who immediately charge to attack Batman. While they overpower him Batman eventually knocks both Amygdala and Solon Grundy out.
Batman then comes across Two-Face. After being beaten around a bit Two-Face surrenders. Batman admits he always liked Harvey Dent so for that reason he has a favor to ask. Batman tells Two-Face to tell his master that while he wants to talk to Bane he is too exhausted at the moment. He continues to say that right now he is going home to rest but he will return tomorrow and have plenty of things to talk with Bane about.
Batman then walks out of Arkham Asylum through the front door. End of issue.
The Good: Batman #70 is exactly the issue that this series needed to get it back on track. Tom King uses the weight of the “Knightmares” story arc to perfectly frame what this first issue of “The Fall and the Fallen.” This decision made a story that was divisive have greater importance while making sure we get “The Fall and the Fallen” off to a fast start.
From the moment that Batman broke out of the nightmare machine he was put in by Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne you could feel how much Bruce Wayne went through. From the yell and the intense visual of how violently Batman broke out of the machine it was clear he was broken and rebuilt through this experience. As soon as he started walking up to The Riddler you knew everyone inside Arkham Asylum was done.
Even with how many dangerous villains were there, King put over how Batman was the most frightening person in Arkham Asylum. The experience Batman just went through really did a number on him. He needed to leave and get the rest needed to properly deal with Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne.
Being motivated by wanting to properly rest made Batman even more dangerous. He was focused in a way we have never seen him. This was Batman that wasn’t about fighting efficiently. King got over how Batman was just looking to get everyone out of his way as quickly as possible. That motivation gave greater meaning to how Batman went through almost his entire rogues gallery so quickly.
The quick fashion Batman took out most of his rogues gallery made those he stopped to talk to have greater importance. Having those villains be The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow and Two-Face were all interesting choices. The first two, The Riddler and Mr. Freeze, have had key storylines within King’s run on Batman.
The Riddler being the one to great Batman when he came out of the nightmare machine quickly re-established what there dynamic is like. The Riddler just could not help but give Batman a riddle to solve. That is just what his nature is. Batman knocking The Riddler out while answering the riddle was just an extremely satisfying moment.
On the other hand, the confrontation between Batman and Mr. Freeze had a sense of terror behind it. King did an excellent job using how due to their previous clash Mr. Freeze has grown to fear Batman. Using that story to explain why Mr. Freeze would hesitate to try to attack Batman showed how much long-term planning King has made for his run. Batman’s dialogue also made great use of how this was someone that just had no time and made it clear that Mr. Freeze would waste his time in anything he tried to do.
The confrontation with Scarecrow was also another clash that felt satisfying. This “fight” perfectly used how King established in Batman #69 that Bruce Wayne has spent a long time overcoming every form of Scarecrow’s fear gas. He has faced every fear Scarecrow can tap into. The intense fear Scarecrow had when he realized Batman has done this was palpable.
Ending Batman #70 with Batman giving Two-Face a message for Bane was a great way to end things. Even though King hasn’t used Two-Face as a main antagonist yet he didn’t need to. Two-Face, like Joker, is an iconic Batman villain that just about everyone knows what their history is. Knowing that history we knew that as soon as Batman started talking to the Harvey Dent side to deliver the message we understood the importance of that history. Through that established history King work the dueling persona’s of Two-Face perfectly. The way this went down gave me hope that we get a Batman/Two-Face story by King down the line.
Though he wasn’t shown on screen, Bane’s presence was felt throughout Batman #70. There was a feeling that Bane was watching everything that was happening in Arkham Asylum. Confirming this by having Bane in a quick conversation with Ventriloquist established that everything that happened in Batman #70 was part of Bane’s plot. Now how exactly an angry and focused Batman works into Bane’s plot will be interesting to see.
For their respective portions of Batman #70 Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes delivered excellent artwork. Janin made appropriate shifts to his art style to get over how this was a darker story. There was an intensity to how Batman acted as he quickly took out all his villains. That intensity was established early on with the violent way Janin drew Batman breaking out of the nightmare machine. That first scene set the tone for how Batman would act the rest of this issue.
Fornes artwork at the end of Batman #70 grounded the story further. He got across how the confrontation between Batman and Two-Face was more personal. Fornes worked in the two different personalities of Two-Face into his artwork very well. Just by looking at Two-Face’s face you could tell both personalities were fighting what the other was saying.
The Bad: As much as I like Janin and Fornes respective art styles they did not mesh with each other. They are two very different artist and it was jarring to see when they traded art duties in Batman #70. It caused a brief pause when it happen. This did not take away from how great Batman #70 was but it definitely paused the momentum of the story for a moment to adjust to the change in art styles.
Overall: Batman #70 was an excellent return to form for Tom King’s incredible run on this series. King used the consequences of the “Knightmares” story arc perfectly to give major weight to what happened in this first chapter of “The Fall and the Fallen.” It was incredible to just see how in a place as dangerous as Arkham Asylum that Batman was the most frightening person there. Where “The Fall and the Fallen” goes from here is anyone’s guess. Whatever does happen next King has made sure that fans should be very excited for what comes next in Batman.
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