The debut issue of Batman: Kings Of Fear is absolutely brilliant! Edgy and smart, it's far from afraid to peel back the layers and take a look inside the inner workings of The Batman and those whom he calls his foes! It's gripping and beautifully intelligent, with page upon page of slick art that call to mind some of the Caped Crusader's greatest tales from the 80's and 90's.
One issue in, and both Peterson and Jones have proven to be a well oiled machine capable of kicking off a white knuckle thriller set to send its readers deep into the darkest corners of fear and uncertainty like never before!
Batman: Kings Of Fear #1 has hooked us in, and we can't recommend this debut issue enough!
You won't want to miss this one!
Rating: 5/5 - "Peterson and Jones have kicked off a white knuckle thriller set to send its readers deep into the darkest corners of fear and uncertainty like never before!"
As Batman drives Joker back to Arkham in the Batmobile, writer Scott Peterson gives such a layered discussion (well, almost one sided thanks to chatty Joker) between the Clown Prince of Crime and a more sullen than usual Caped Crusader that already attempts to understand the inner workings of Batman’s purpose as a vigilante. Joker and Batman have done this good vs evil dance enough times to know there are dark corners in Bruce’s mind that even a demented soul like Joker has difficulties comprehending.
Batman’s hardships with the villains he faces comes to a head when some of his greatest rogues faces him. While the action sequences are phenomenal courtesy of Jones and Madsen, the dialogue between Batman and the Asylum doctor is significant; the talk amplifies whether or not Batman’s role as hero of Gotham really is for the greater good or if his crusade leads to actual rehabilitation.
One of the first comic book covers I ever saw was a Kelley Jones cover to the early 1990s ‘Batman: Knightfall’ series. As a horror genre fanatic, seeing Jones’ elongated cowls, exaggerated capes and distorted movements surrounded by gothic architecture and morbid shadows made me love not just Kelley Jones’ art, but the comic book medium in general.
Jones brings this same intensity to “Kings of Fear” in every panel. You can feel the crushing blows of each punch and kick, whether it’s on a low level crooks in a warehouse or a nice uppercut to Two-Face in the Asylum. What is most enjoyable about Jones and Madsen’s work is how extra every facet of the story is presented. Joker’s ghoulish grin is a little bit more wide sinister when speaking to Bats. The soft glow of a lit match illuminates a huddled rogues gallery against the shadow of the Bat defines their fearful faces more than usual. The sickening green hue enveloping the Batman as he is sucked into the nightmarish world of the Scarecrow is a bit more terrifying.
I have been excited about this Peterson and Jones series since it was announced and so far the story has exceeded expectations. Very much a fan of Scarecrow / Batman tales that focus on Bruce’s psyche, so I cannot wait for Part Two to see how far we go into the depths of the Dark Knight.
Scott Peterson moved this story along quickly, fluently, and effortlessly. Readers may find themselves reading the issue in under 10 minutes flat. To anyone interested in checking this out, it honestly will take no time at all. That said, the issue ironically excels through its dialogue. Peterson knows exactly what to say, how to say it, and doesn’t saturate a page with words. Every word is used well and appears to have a purpose. Additionally, Rob Leigh did an excellent job strategically placing the lettering throughout the pages to make the transitions appear polished.
Furthermore, Peterson slyly implies that the Joker may know that Batman is Bruce Wayne. He says things throughout the issue like ”between the cushions of Bruce Wayne’s couch” or ”mansion of a psyche.” Later, Joker also conjectures that he knows what it’s like to wake up and not know ”who you’ll be that day.” These words very well may just be Peterson showing irony, or maybe it’s something more.
Peterson also gets readers to think about their thoughts on Batman, what he stands for, the Dark Knights purpose, and his effects on the criminals he brings in. The Doctor at Arkham references the fact that Batman can just walk right into the Asylum, but she needed background checks to get in. This was an excellent point.
Furthermore, the Doctor follows it up with a statement many fans have had for years;” maybe you aren’t responsible for the Jokers action… but you have to know you bear more than a little culpability.” These statements are profound arguments that fans, artists, and writers have probably gotten into vicious disagreements over throughout the years and bring up thought-provoking questions that I hope Peterson weighs in on during his run.
I have personally seen individuals get heated over their opinions of the Dark Knight and if he is doing more harm than good for these villains. Heck, after Joker releases almost all of the Batman Rogues and the Caped Crusader beats them all up again, the Arkham Doctor spits out another valid point. She states how Batman continues to prove to these insane villains that violence is legitimate. Peterson is stirring the pot of Batman opinions and beliefs to kick off his story. He’s hitting on touchy topics that will genrate a wide spectrum of opinions. Where do you land on the spectrum?
Writer and former Batman editor Scott Peterson knows exactly what he’s doing here, writing a taut and dynamic scripture that plays directly to his artist’s strengths giving us a hellish take on The Joker, Arkham Asylum and the rest of its inmates.Similarly, when Joker immediately escapes within minutes of being returned into the care of the Asylum, this Batman almost goes through the motions of putting him back down. The fact that he’s backed up by Bane, Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy, Two-Face, Penguin and Killer Croc makes no difference. They’re going down. It’s a stunning scene, really emphasising who the real terror in Gotham is, with Batman killing the lights before knocking seven shades of hell out of his enemies, culminating with Ivy sparking a match just in time to see the Dark Knight b bearing down on them: “Oh. Oh no.” It’s brilliantly atmospheric stuff and exactly what you want to see from a Kelley Jones Batman comic.They’re some luridly-styled takes on the rogue’s gallery, as you’d expect, their most demonic aspects brought beautifully to the fore as usual by an artist who makes that his speciality, but he brings an even more kinetic approach to action than we’ve seen before from him that’s refreshing to see. One page alone has 24 close up panels of Batman’s fists, feet and fingers connecting in the most painful ways with the faces, bodies and eyeballs of Joker’s hired thugs, giving an almost Shaw Brothers feel to the violence, while despatching a lengthy mass brawl in the shortest (and most amusing) of ways. It’s smart too, as right from the off it’s emphasising just how mundane and repetitive this kind of thing is for Batman.It’s only at the end where The Scarecrow aka the real villain appears, (Jones’ finest and most disturbing rendition yet, by the way) and judging from the solicitations, what this mini is really about properly kicks in, but the foundations have already been set in this first issue. Batman has being doing his dance with these maniacs for years, but has he made any difference at all? Deep down, what’s his greatest fears? It looks like we’re about to find out and you’d be insane yourself if you aren’t along for the ride. Essential.