“Knightmares” – Part One
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Travis Moore
The follow-up to Batman #38 is appropriately subversive and disturbing.
In all honesty, I initially read “Knightmares” straight through, hoping that the flashback would fill in my memory gaps. However, when I could not recall certain details, I went back to reread the previous story “The Origin of Bruce Wayne”, only to learn how aptly-named “Knightmares” was. In retrospect, I think that is the best way to experience and fully appreciate this issue.
Matthew Warner was a rich kid who wanted to be like Bruce Wayne. He even took the nickname “Master Bruce”. However, in the end, Batman figured out that Matthew’s obsession to become Bruce Wayne escalated, leading to the child murdering his own parents.
The start of the current issue picks up on the story of “Master Bruce”, but not in the way you’d think. Writer Tom King hedged his bets that readers’ memories of the previous story was still hazy and cleverly re-told Master Bruce’s origin. Of course, King peppers in subtle clues that something is off. Most prominently, Master Bruce looks like Bruce Wayne as a child, not Matthew.
This retelling is disorienting and surprising. King lays just enough indicators that there is more to happening until the twist near the end of the issue. King smartly does not make the twist obvious. This just adds to the off-kilter, disorienting nature of the issue.
Travis Moore – who also drew the previous Master Bruce story – does a great job setting the mood with his art. The majority of the issue appears to be mundane, but Moore takes this and gives it a realistic look. This just reinforces how “Normal” everything is, until things go off the rails. His style is the perfect compliment to King’s script.
While the narrative build-up of King’s story was masterful, the script suffers from realism problems. Without giving too much away, the implication is that Master Bruce was incarcerated in a prison with adults. Discounting the fact that contradicts the ending of Batman #38, there is no way a minor would be in prison with adults. Furthermore, it is downright laughable how much Master Bruce was getting away with. Does this prison have extremely lax security? Also, do they not put people in isolation? It is honestly better to just overlook such real-world inconsistencies.
This comic is a worthy sequel to issue #38. It is creepy, weird, and off-putting. The protagonist is disturbing and perfect for this type of story. Sure, there are some logical stretches to make the story work, but it does not hamper an otherwise psychologically twisted piece.
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment