Friday, October 16, 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight #34 Review

Don't Fear the Reaper

Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Ig Guara, Julio Ferreira, Andrew Dalhouse and Deron Bennett
Cover Price: $0.99
Release Date: October 16, 2015

I do love me some Arkham Knight.  I know that's not a big surprise for anybody who has been reading my reviews, but I actually like saying it.  In fact, I love it.  That's right, I love loving it and I love loving that I love it.  Yes, I'm on my thirty fourth review of Arkham Knight and I am running out of accolades to shower it with in these introductions.  It shows, huh?  Screw it then, let's get on with the review...

The issue opens with Bruce returning to the Batcave after going to hell and back again thanks to Calendar Man.  I loved Julian Day's arc because it really felt like he got closer than just about anyone in getting rid of the Bat and from what Bruce says here, he would agree.  With Dick and Tim on the way with Chinese, Bruce drops a bomb on Alfred...what comes after Batman is gone?

We then get to the main event that was teased by last issue's cliffhanger...the Arkham Knight versus Scarecrow.  It starts with Crane mistaking the Knight as a member of the Bat Family, and continues with Scarecrow getting a taste of his own medicine.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have the effect that the Arkham Knight was planning on.

Meanwhile, Dick and Tim (and the Chinese) have arrived in the Batcave and with Bruce resting, Alfred has some time to talk to Bruce's young wards.  It's a heartfelt talk that hits home after what almost happened to Bruce and what did happen to Jason Todd.  Yep, we get to see Jason's old Robin costume and while we have all seen it countless times, it really feels significant with what has been done and said.

Back with the dastardly duo, I'll give Scarecrow kudos here, he saves himself with some fast thinking...and a killer demonstration.  The Knight may have thought that Crane would only get in his way when it comes to bringing down Batman, but all the good Doctor wants is a way to perfect a more intense fear toxin.  Good old Scarecrow, such a one trick pony.  The demonstration is intense and gruesome, but seems to do the trick and the Knight agrees to give Scarecrow a hand...well, actually, he'll give him a stronger test subject.  Hmmm...who could be strong enough to survive Dr. Cranes's experiments?  Maybe someone who has a history of pumping chemicals into his own body?

This issue was another setup heavy issue, but I always love seeing Tim and Dick and while this wasn't your typical beat-em up affair, I really liked the quieter moments we get here.  Peter Tomasi is going way beyond a mere video game tie-in to explore some pretty heavy ideas about what makes Batman and if in fact, he's eternal.  As far as the Arkham Knight and Scarecrow, I need some more development on their front because their partnership still seems forced and uncharacteristic so far.  I hope it makes more sense going forward, however, because I love seeing them together.

Ig Guara's art is really good as usual.  While there isn't a "money shot" to point out, everything is just right and in an issue with less action, that's sometimes the best you can ask for.  It helps that my favorite inker and colorist, Julio Ferreira and Andrew Dalhouse, are in fine form as usual.  I don't think it's possible for these guys (and Viktor Bogdonavic) to make an issue that doesn't look awesome.

Bits and Pieces:

This issue is more setup than I thought it would be going in.  It's just that Peter Tomasi has really pushed this story forward so well, that even a little breather feels off.  Off, but still good.  The art and storytelling are good enough for me to recommend this book to any and all Batman fans and not fear any repercussions.  This book is that good.


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