Review: Batman #56

“Beasts of Burden” Part 2

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Tony Daniel

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Batman is reeling with the fallout of last issue’s twist ending. With this and his failed wedding, is the Dark Knight beginning to fray at the edges?

This issue is a bit divisive. On the one hand, it is a genuinely great issue with the right amount of action, drama, and humor. On the other hand, it is odd how writer Tom King skips over the obvious aftermath of the previous issue. But we will get back to that in a moment.

King does an awesome job of laying out how Batman deals with (SPOILERS!) Nightwing getting shot. King always writes Batman as an emotional vacuum who pushes himself doubly hard in the face of adversity. Readers definitely see Batman do this as he rampages across the globe to find the KG Beast. It is fun to see his quest graduate from shaking down local gun dealers, to fighting swarms of ninjas, and to even facing off against a New God. Not only is it amusing, but the variety of situations calls for Batman to utilize different skills to solve them.

The tones of the issue vary as well. Some scenes are played comedically, while others are more serious. The different tones allow readers to breath a little more and not feel overwhelmed by an overly dark, angsty narrative.

In these “Batman-seeks-vengeance” stories, our hero can be overwhelmingly dark and brooding. King wisely inserts humor for a slight respite.

King also wisely uses a couple of characters for Batman to bounce off of, to give different responses. The funnest interaction in this issue is with the Bronze Tiger. Tiger has a different dynamic than, say, Alfred. Where Alfred tends to be almost passive with Batman, Tiger pushes back and demands or says things in a very mercenary manner. They are not quite friends, but mutual acquaintances. It is a breath of fresh air to see another character with a different attitude from the typical Bat-family drama.

With that being said, it is super strange that King does not show Batman dealing with the immediate emotional impact of Nightwing’s shooting. The comic’s time skips means we never see how Batman immediately reacts to Nightwing being shot in front of him. “Perhaps they are saving that for Nightwing’s own comic” you can say? Except, if one reads this week’s Nightwing #50, you know that there is an even bigger time skip there. It almost seems like King is avoiding writing these emotional scenes. Which is weird, because he absolutely has the ability to.

Artist Tony Daniel’s line work is darn nice-looking. His storytelling skills seem to improve with each successive issue. His character acting is also fine. Daniel tends to make his characters’ expressions look overly-exaggerated. Here, the facials are more subtle and the visuals look better because of it. It especially looks good in the scenes where the KG Beast converses with his father. There are no outlandish visuals. It is just two people talking. The scene is so effective, that I can even forgive the occasional awkward pose or that weird sequence where Daniel frames panels with Batman’s crotch.

Conclusion

King and Daniel upped the ante in the previous issue and their follow up is even better. The action, drama, and humor all play perfectly. Nothing feels overbearing or annoying. Daniel’s excellent art even complements the script well. Overall, a great comic reading experience with only a few nitpicks.

Images courtesy of DC Entertainment

Eric Lee

Eric Lee

Eric Lee hails from San Francisco, California and has been one of the biggest fans of Batman since he was 2 years old when his dad showed him Tim Burton's 'Batman' on a fuzzy VHS. Currently, Eric is an avid comic book reader and writer and illustrator working on his own graphic novel. You can see his doodles at meeleeart.com.