Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall #1 Review


Writer: Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins
Artist: Javi Fernandez
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: October 16, 2019

While I am a bit worn out with the Dark Multiverse stuff right now, I am looking forward to these "Tales" as a bit of What If? action that I hope will be some fun.  Yea, I know what you're thinking, "Jim, this is Dark Multiverse stuff, that's not me and the kids down at the malt shop call fun!"  Well, get off my back 50's generic teen!  I mean fun in a crazy, wack, funky way that these types of books can bring when done right.  So, did Snyder, Higgins, and Fernandez do it, right?  Let's find out...

The issue opens with a little rundown of what this whole Dark Multiverse is all about and if you have been paying attention the last year or so, you will easily smell what the Fuginaut is cooking.  Yep, Tempus Fuginaut is in the house and really, if you told me that he was going to be in multiple books (and big ones!) after Sideways was canceled, I would have laughed...the out loud variety at that!  He sets up the scene quickly as we see Batman's back being broken by Bane, Azrael taking over and finally, the divergent bit where a returning Batman was killed by Azrael.

We quickly go through a page showing some changes in Gotham under Azrael's rule, but the good stuff is saved for when we jump thirty years ahead to get to the gist of the story.  Snyder and Higgins do some quick world building with name drops like the "Woodrue Pandemic" and the "Parasite Cataclysm" and it hits my sweet spot with stories like this.

We continue with not so subtle hints that Azrael is old and not so well as he goes off to pay an old friend a visit.  Actually, it's not a friend at all, but the first big shock of the issue.  I know that anything goes here, but it still got me a bit.  The scene ends with hints at dark days for the Bat-Family and a get out of jail card that only requires a bit of humility and maybe a little bit of lying as well.

I usually am not a huge fan of Javier Fernandez's art, but I like it here for the most part.  It fits the darkness of the title and maybe it's because these characters are skewed a bit off-center, but I like most of his character designs as well.

We then jump into a scene that shows how Azrael and Gotham now roll to suddenly see that he may not have as tight a grip as he thought.  With Gotham under attack and Azrael distracted, a young man (who almost everyone had to believe was Jason Todd) frees Gotham's most famous prisoner and we have ourselves a team-up that I never saw coming!

This good guy team keeps expanding as we get more of this Dark Multiverse's background and it's cool, but that's the biggest problem.  I really like a lot of what is going on here, especially the talk of what happened right after Batman was taken down by Azrael, but there just doesn't seem to be any time or space to go into it any more than a few panels.  It gives the book a faster pace than the actual little action going on deserves and makes it all feel a little too empty.

The issue continues with the idea of the Resistance getting themselves a Batman, just as Azrael is told he will always fail by St. Dumas himself.  That is some cold shit right there, even (or more so) that it might be "of the mind".

We move along with a fight, but again, the really cool stuff is glossed over and this is where Fernadez's art stops helping a bit as well.  There are some confusing panel transitions throughout this throwdown and the character detail plummets too.  It is brutal, though, and if you ever wanted to see someone rip an arm off another person to get a little taste of some venom, then this is the issue for you.  Again, I know what you're thinking..."How did you know that's what I always wanted to see?"  The issue then ends in a huge tweest that I can't say I was a huge fan of and a closing monologue by Fuginaut that has to have Rod Serling smiling, wherever he ended up.

I didn't hate this issue, but I didn't come close to loving it either.  Because it's the first of these Tales From The Dark Multiverse books, I was looking at it to help me decide if I was going to continue on with the rest and right now, I have to say "no".  This issue just didn't have any sizzle to it.  The story was very basic with a bit of window dressing thrown in, but overall, it just felt unnecessary at best and a waste of time at worst.  I guess after all is said and done, I am somewhere in-between those two extremes and that's not a great place to be with so many other books available.

Bits and Pieces:

Snyder and Higgins set up some cool things here, but without the proper time and space to develop any of it, it all falls flat.  I am now officially worried about the rest of these Tales From The Dark Multiverse books since Knightfall seems like the easiest of these stories to tell.  Oh well, the art is pretty good here, but I still left with the feeling that this book had no real reason to hit the shelf besides DC trying to see how far they can go to milk this Dark Multiverse thing.


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