[**Mild Spoilers Ahead]
Batman has been gassed by the Scarecrow and is battling apparitions of his greatest foes across Arkham Asylum. He finally comes out of it to find Commissioner Gordon on the scene. Gordon points Batman in the direction of Scarecrow’s hostage, a man named Kenneth Rhee. The Dark Knight returns to the heart of Gotham City to search for leads on Scarecrow and Rhee.
Batman: Kings of Fear #2 presents Batman as a thoroughly unhappy and grim bastard. This story shows little humor or humanity from the Caped Crusader, with the only vulnerable moment being a visibly shaken Bruce coping with the dose of Fear Toxin he’s taken.
Beyond that, Batman is the creature of vengeance that he claims to be throughout this book. It does lead to some pretty fun moments, like the Dark Knight busting up a gang and warning the sole conscious man to “listen to your abuela.”
At other times, the sheer joylessness feels a little taxing.
Cards on the table, Scarecrow is my favorite Batman rogue, so I was disappointed with how little he shows up in this issue. I’m sure there is more Jonathan Crane to go around in issues to come.
That said, as an excuse for Kelley Jones to draw Bruce Wayne, Batman: Kings of Fear is a triumph. Jones is firing on all cylinders in this comic, and the Dark Knight has rarely looked better. There is no shortage of breathtakingly gorgeous and gothic pages of the Batman looking as menacing and fearsome as ever. Michelle Madsen provides a dark color palette that is occasionally offset by scouring light or a colorful costume. The book looks amazing.
Batman: Kings of Fear #2 is a decent story boosted by incredible artwork. Jones and Madsen make this comic, and it earns a recommendation off their work alone. I’m a story guy, so I rarely recommend a book off the art alone. Believe me when I say that, if you’re a Bat-Fan, this book is just worth it for the art.
This comic comes to us courtesy of writer Scott Peterson, artist Kelley Jones, color artist Michelle Madsen, letterer Rob Leigh, and cover artists Jones with Madsen.