I could spend this entire opening paragraph ranting about event fatigue, and how tired I am of crossovers. But if there’s one thing that I’m even more tired of, it’s the death of the Waynes in Crime Alley, and you can count on DC deciding to use that tired trope yet again in an event that’s supposed to be all about nightmares. Let’s have a look.
So this issue almost entirely takes place in Bruce’s dreaming mind. There are a couple ideas in this issue that I think are pretty cool. For example, Bruce finds himself in a theater, where the big screen literally swallows him and becomes a portal to another dimension. I also think that the moment where Bruce vomits a giant monster bat is a pretty fun idea. However, while the giant monster bat sounds great on paper, in execution it gets ruined because the monster bat has a gun for a head. Not only is this a really forced and clumsy connection between the gun that killed Bruce’s parents and his identity as Batman, but it also looks very silly and unintentionally funny.
This leads me to my next point: I hate that this comic opens with the death of the Waynes again. I hate that Bruce’s nightmare revolves around the Waynes…again! I’ve seen this scene play out so often that I’m just completely apathetic to it at this point. I still appreciate the scene in Year One, of course, but other than that, whenever it comes up, I just get so bored so fast. Here DC had the opportunity to explore more of Batman’s psyche through this nightmare, but we go right back to that same old, same old, and I’m just done.
Other than that, it’s not a very well-written issue, either. There are a lot of uninspired lines, such as, “I’ll never be over the night Joe Chill killed my parents,” or, “I’m the thing that goes bump in the night, the boogeyman, your worst nightmare…but you can call me Insomnia.” Lines like these make it seem like the comic was put together hastily and/or lazily. Add to this the fact that the rest of the dialogue can be rather on-the-nose, and that the villain, Insomnia, reads like a badly written Joker, and this issue becomes a real chore to get through.
I’d almost give the comic points for the fact that Bruce seems completely unimpressed when he is confronted with his dead parents and allies for the umpteenth time in his life and that he just starts fighting back. But the problem with this is that if Batman isn’t scared at all in his nightmare, it just isn’t much of a nightmare! Instead, it reads like a very basic Batman story rooted in the most tired Batman tropes you can think of.
This issue also takes for granted that you’ve been reading the core Knight Terrors series. While it’s not hard to understand the basics of the story at hand, this two-parter will not stand on its own. Without the context of the larger event, the stuff we see in this issue seems random and pointless.
Unfortunately, the artwork isn’t much to write home about, either. March is a skillful artist for sure, but a lot of these visuals look rushed, especially any of the scenes that have to do with Crime Alley. The characters that we see in these panels lack details and the layouts make these pages look like almost every other “Death of the Waynes” collage that I’ve ever seen. Then there are the bad renditions of bad character designs throughout the bulk of the story. For example, Bruce looks like a 12-year-old Goth kid in a tuxedo, with exaggerated red eyes and black makeup running down his deathly white face like tears. When Insomnia shows up, in a Robin outfit, he has the same sort of mannerisms and creepy smile as The Joker, except Insomnia is way more muscular and has a purple mohawk. Had the creative team really leaned into horror more, this issue could have at least looked cool. Now it just looks like a super edgy superhero comic with mild horror flavor.
The backup story, “Sweet Dreams,” is a lot more fun than the main story, but at the same time it’s nothing more than an unessential chapter in the core Knight Terrors saga. Within the span of eight pages, Damian learns how to control his sleep so he can try to find Batman and Insomnia. The dialogue is short and snappy, although almost all of it is exposition and does not sound very organic. The art by Lafuente has a consistent style that fits a Damian Wayne story, but Rex Lokus’ colors make everything look kind of plastic and stiff, which isn’t to my liking. The fight scenes that are here are over before they begin and often backgrounds are nonexistent. All things considered, with this backup being merely a bridge between two issues, none of the ideas here are fleshed out or developed beyond their very basic premises. It’s not a backup that anyone has to read, but it’s not terrible, either. It’s just here, for those who are curious, I guess.
- You’re reading the main Knight Terrors event.
- Batman and horror is your favorite combo.
Overall: If it wasn’t obvious already, I’m not going to recommend this comic. The main story is uninspired as it rehashes ancient Batman tropes that have been done to death, and some of the ideas that are supposed to be freaky, turn out to be unintentionally funny. The Damian Wayne backup seems like a skippable story as not a whole lot of character development or plot development happens here. There are better comics on stands this week, so I’d say either pick one of those, or keep your hard-earned money in your pocket. Knight Terrors: Batman #1 just isn’t worth it.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.