We’ve known what was coming for a while. The solicitations for Batman #55 warned us. Something bad was coming, and readers knew it. DC even spoiled it in the last few weeks.
That doesn’t mean that the story is any less impactful or horrifying, and that’s a testament to this story. The entire creative team – writer Tom King, line artists Tony Daniel & Daniel Miki, color artist Tomeu Morey, and letterer Clayton Cowles – fire on all cylinders here.
[**Major Spoilers Ahead**]
As a mysterious visitor arrives in Gotham, Batman and Nightwing adventure through the city. The entire time, Dick is trying to get Bruce to joke and smile, until the Bat-signal goes on. As they talk to Gordon, the conversation is cut short by a horrifying moment – Dick is shot in the head by the mysterious visitor…
I am a massive cheerleader of King’s work. The Vision, Omega Men and Mister Miracle are all absolutely fantastic comic books. His Batman has, for the first time, made the Dark Knight a must-read series for me.
This issue is truly no different. The interplay between Dick and Bruce is great. It truly feels like two men who have known each other all their lives. Even though Bruce is somewhat a father figure for Dick, this feels more like a brotherly relationship, and it’s so realistically done.
The assassin (who know through solicitations is the KGBeast) is an imposing threat in every panel. He’s a threatening, frightening presence. The writing is sparse throughout, and he’s framed by what’s happening around him.
Daniel is an artist who’s taken me a long time to enjoy. Working with King has brought out the best in him though, and Miki really emphasizes that. The issues is full of great action, with the Batman and Nightwing pages giving us a great superhero adventure.
However, in the assassin’s pages, they shift from flowing superhero action to a nine panel grid. This choice builds tension, almost becoming the comic book equivalent of a ticking clock. It’s builds and builds, until the tension lets off for just long enough – and Dick is shot.
I can’t imagine coloring a Batman book is an easy job, but Morey makes it look effortless. He shifts through the multiple settings in the book with ease, playing with light and effects. Then the assassin pages remain harsh and static.
Cowles does a great job too, particularly in the pages with the assassin. The word balloons feel like ambient sound, which makes the tension even more heightened. It really works.
I have been deeply invested in this run all along. King just keeps drawing me in. This story is continuing proof of why.
Batman #55 is available now from DC Comics.