Batman’s Knightmare Needs to End (Batman #67 Review)

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.

Year One Books<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nDC\u0027s various Year One-branded comics tend to be excellent gateways for the characters in question. As the name suggests, each book chronicles a hero\u0027s first year on the job and generally their origin story as well.\r\n
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\r\nFrank Miller and David Mazzucchelli\u0027s Batman: Year One was the first of these books and remains the gold standard. It explores Bruce Wayne\u0027s return to Gotham, his first clashes with Catwoman and the mob and his painful journey from lone vigilante to costumed superhero.\r\n
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\r\nThere\u0027s also Robin: Year One and Batgirl: Year One from writer Chuck Dixon and artists Javier Pulido (Robin) and Marcos Martin (Batgirl). In terms of subject matter, these two books are similar to Batman: Year One, though stylistically they\u0027re more lighthearted and adventurous. In particular, Batgirl: Year One is widely regarded as one of the best Batgirl stories ever published.\r\n
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\r\nFinally, there\u0027s Green Arrow: Year One from Andy Diggle and Jock. Not only does this book provide the definitive account of Oliver Queen\u0027s journey from lazy playboy to hardened survivor, it served as one of the primary source of inspiration for the TV series Arrow.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Batman (1940) #404-407, Robin: Year One #1-4, Batgirl: Year One #1-9, Green Arrow: Year One #1-6″,”height”:674,”width”:1199,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/02-1537540122147.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/02-1537540122147_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:”03″,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

Superman: Brainiac<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nFew writers have done as much to shape the course of DC Comics as Geoff Johns. Johns may not have had nearly as lengthy a stint on Action Comics as he did books like Green Lantern or The Flash, but he and artist Gary Frank did manage to craft one of the best modern Superman stories before they left.\r\n
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\r\nJohns and Frank\u0027s final Action Comics story is called \u0022Brainiac,\u0022 pitting the Man of Steel against his super-intelligent nemesis. The twist here is that Superman is finally meeting the one, true Brainiac, not the myriad clones and impostors that had cropped up before. \u0022Brainiac\u0022 wound up having a significant impact on the Superman franchise, though most of its effects have been rendered moot by the New 52 reboot. More importantly, it\u0027s a very dramatic, well-executed and emotionally charged tale. It also cements Gary Frank as a Superman legend, in part because his Man of Steel is so clearly modeled on the late, great Christopher Reeve.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Action Comics (1939) #866-870″,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/03-1537540122151.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/03-1537540122151_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:”04″,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

The Dark Knight Returns<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nThe Dark Knight Returns may be the app\u0027s most obvious must-read comic for anyone not familiar with DC\u0027s publishing lineup. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Batman stories ever told, it\u0027s a book that has a profound influence on 30 years\u0027 worth of Batman comics and various movie spinoffs.\r\n
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\r\nThe Dark Knight returns is also one of the most famous \u0022Elseworlds\u0022 stories, as it takes place in an alternate universe where a middle-aged Bruce Wayne resumes his war on crime in Cold war-era Gotham City. The result is every bit as dark and starkly rendered as you\u0027d expect from writer\/artist Frank Miller.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> The Dark Knight Returns #1-4″,”height”:1080,”width”:1920,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/04-1537540122155.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/04-1537540122155_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:”05″,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

Catwoman by Brubaker<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nEven at this nascent stage, the DCU app features a solid sampling of Catwoman material. For anyone who wants to skip straight to the best stuff, seek out the first 9 issues of the 2001 Catwoman comic. This material covers the early part of writer Ed Brubaker\u0027s run on the series. While Brubaker may be best known these days for Marvel books like Captain America and creator-owned fare like Criminal, his Catwoman run is a reminder that he made quite a mark at DC prior to those books.\r\n
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\r\nAs of right now, the DCU app includes the first nine issues of the series. Obviously, we\u0027d love to see more added, but at least this includes the four-issue story he did with the late, great Darwyn Cooke called \u0022Anodyne.\u0022 Those four issues really set the tone for Catwoman\u0027s solo adventures in the 21st Century, as well as establishing a distinctive look for the character that lasted all the way until her 2018 solo comic.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Catwoman (2001) #1-9″,”height”:562,”width”:999,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/05-1537540122157.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/05-1537540122157_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:”06″,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

Doom Patrol by Morrison & Case<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nSpend much time digging into DC\u0027s comic book back catalog and you\u0027re sure to hear the name \u0022Grant Morrison\u0022 pop up. Morrison is responsible for some of the most groundbreaking, mind-bending DC stories of the past 30 years, from All-Star Superman to The Invisibles to his lengthy Batman run. Sadly, little of that material is available on the app at the moment, but at least readers can check out one of his earliest DC hits, Doom Patrol.\r\n
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\r\nEssentially, Doom Patrol is DC\u0027s answer to the X-Men, showcasing a team of bizarre misfits too strange to be a part of the Justice League. The team had already existed in one form or another for several decades before Morrison and artist Richard Case took over the book, but their surreal, intelligent approach to the characters truly made the book stand out in way it hadn\u0027t before. With the Doom Patrol about to star in their own streaming series on DC Universe, now would be the perfect time to do some background reading.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Doom Patrol (1987) #19-24″,”height”:1080,”width”:1920,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/06-1537540122161.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/06-1537540122161_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:”07″,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

Checkmate<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nIf you crave a dose of political intrigue in your superhero comics, Checkmate may just fit the bill. This series from writer Greg Rucka and artists like Jesus Saiz focuses on the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between heroes and the governments who oversee them. The idea being that Checkmate is a UN-backed organization made up of equal parts politicians and metahuman heroes. Every high-ranking members corresponds to a piece on a chess board – Amanda Waller is White Queen, Fire is Black Knight, Mister Terrific is White Bishop, and so forth.\r\n
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\r\nIt\u0027s a premise that plays directly to Rucka and Saiz\u0027s storytelling strengths. The series is also a great showcase for Sasha Bordeaux, an underappreciated character who previously served as Bruce Wayne\u0027s bodyguard before moving up in the DCU.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Checkmate (2006) #1-31″,”height”:1080,”width”:1920,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/07-1537540122163.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/07-1537540122163_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:”08″,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

Starman by Robinson & Harris<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nOne of the best things about the DC Universe is the way that heroes establish legacies. When one hero grows old or passes away, the mantle gets passed down to their successor. Few books have explored the generational side of the DCU or the pressures that result as well as James Robinson and Tony Harris\u0027 Starman. This series stars Jack Knight, son of Golden Age Starman Ted Knight and a man who\u0027d rather tinker in his antique shop rather than put on a costume and defend Opal City. The series also hinges heavily on Shade, a former villain who finds a new calling as Jack\u0027s mentor.\r\n
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\r\nThe \u002790s have a reputation for being a pretty lousy time for superhero comics. But while crossovers and chromium covers may have ruled the day, Starman served (and still serves) as a shining example of what\u0027s possible when creators sit down to tell a great story that builds on the history of a shared superhero universe.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Starman (1994) #0-38″,”height”:788,”width”:1399,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/08-1537540122164.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/08-1537540122164_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:”09″,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

Suicide Squad by Ostrander<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nFrankly, if you\u0027re just judging by the quality of the 2016 movie, you might not understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to the Suicide Squad. To truly get the appeal of this ragtag team of disposable villains, you have to go back to the 1987 series written by John Ostrander. Ostrander\u0027s run really defined this team for the modern DC era, re-imagining the Squad as a group of incarcerated super-criminals given an offer by Amanda Waller – serve on Task Force X and get your sentence reduced, assuming you survive long enough.\r\n
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\r\nMany didn\u0027t. That\u0027s part of the appeal of the series. Not only does it feature an eclectic cast of heroes, villains and morally gray players, you can never be certain that every member will return home alive. So if the idea of a superhero comic that\u0027s equal parts Mission: Impossible and The Dirty Dozen sounds appealing, this one is definitely worth a try.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Suicide Squad (1987) #1-25″,”height”:805,”width”:1431,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/09-1537540122167.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/09-1537540122167_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:10,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

Saga of the Swamp Thing<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nBack before he was known as the mind behind all-time classics like Watchmen and V for Vendetta, Alan Moore cut his teeth on Saga of the Swamp Thing. His run with artist Stephen Bissette is still regarded as the finest in the history of the franchise, as well as being one of the best comics DC published in the \u002780s.\r\n
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\r\nMoore and Bissette kicked off their run by fundamentally changing the nature of Swamp Thing. He wasn\u0027t a human scientist transformed into a hulking monster after a lab accident. He was a monster who only believed he used to be a man. That one change set the stage for everything to follow, as the creators radically overhauled the character\u0027s mythology and crafted an intelligent and often terrifying horror comic. As with several books on this list, the DCU app doesn\u0027t have the full run available yet, but what\u0027s there is absolutely worth reading.\r\n
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\r\nSwamp Thing is also due for his own DC Universe series in the near future. It\u0027s a safe bet that series will be drawing heavily from this comic.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Saga of the Swamp Thing #21-37″,”height”:899,”width”:1599,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/10-1537540122170.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/09\/21\/10-1537540122170_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:11,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”h2>The New 52 Batman<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nIf you want a good starting point for DC\u0027s modern Batman comics, you won\u0027t find a better book than the New 52 Batman comic, from writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo. This series aimed to simplify Batman\u0027s world even as it added new villains and ideas, such as the Court of Owls and a revamped origin story called \u0022Zero Year.\u0022 This series is also notable for crafting a dark new take on the Joker thanks to \u0022Death of the Family.\u0022\r\n
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\r\nUnfortunately, DC Universe\u0027s catalog only features a handful of issues after the end of \u0022Zero Year,\u0022 meaning the climax to Snyder and Capullo\u0027s run is currently unavailable. The good news is that the service does feature several other major Batman stories written by Snyder, including \u0022Black Mirror,\u0022 which features Dick Grayson rather than Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Batman (2011) #1-33\r\n”,”height”:720,”width”:1279,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/01\/29\/batman-new-52-1548800151399.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/01\/29\/batman-new-52-1548800151399_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:12,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

The Omega Men<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nTom King is widely regarded as one of the best writers working at DC right now, if not the industry as a whole. The Omega Men is where King first established himself as a unique voice and a rising star. This updated take on a classic cosmic team is less superhero story than it is grand sci-fi epic. King and artists like Barnaby Bagenda craft a surreal, very somber story about war and the never-ending cycle of violence it perpetuates. And don\u0027t worry if you aren\u0027t familiar with these characters. The book wisely makes White Lantern Kyle Rayner a central character, offering more casual readers a protagonist to latch onto in a story without clear heroes or villains.\r\n
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\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> The Omega Men (2015) #1-12″,”height”:675,”width”:1200,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/01\/29\/omegamen11-1548800151403.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/01\/29\/omegamen11-1548800151403_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:13,”albumTotalCount”:14},{“caption”:”

Injustice: Gods Among Us<\/h2>\r\n
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\r\nAs much as we\u0027ve enjoyed the Injustice series of video games, the comic book tie-ins are where this alternate universe truly comes alive. Injustice: Gods Among Us is a prequel series that fleshes out the five years leading up to the events of the first game. Writer Tom Taylor builds from an admittedly questionable starting point – with Superman murdering Joker – and proceeds to explore the Man of Steel\u0027s downfall in thrilling and exhausting detail. The series features terrific characterization, and it also manages to be surprisingly funny and poignant along the way.\r\n
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\r\nDC Universe currently only features the first of five volumes of Injustice (along with a handful of other issues), but that alone makes for a great starting point for anyone interested in what could drive a hero like Superman over the edge.\r\n
\r\n
\r\nWhat to read:<\/strong> Injustice – Gods Among Us #1-36″,”height”:899,”width”:1599,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/01\/29\/injustice-gods-among-us-1548800151401.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/01\/29\/injustice-gods-among-us-1548800151401_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App”,”relativePosition”:14,”albumTotalCount”:14}]’data-ads-disabled=’false’data-ad-frequency=’3’data-image-size=’1280w’>The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe App10+ IMAGESFullscreen ImageArtboard 3 CopyArtboard 3ESC 01 OF 14Here are ten must-read comic book storylines available on the DC Universe app. 01 OF 14Here are ten must-read comic book storylines available on the DC Universe app.The Best Comics to Read on the DC Universe AppDownload ImageCaptionsESC

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.

The Verdict

Batman #67 is an attractive comic, but the same could be said for so many issues of this series. The snazzy artwork isn’t enough to make up for what is easily the thinnest and least satisfying chapter of Tom King’s run to date. The prolonged chase sequence adds nothing to Batman’s current predicament, doing little more than padding out a story that probably should have ended already.

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