Tom King brings us a deep, brutal Batman story that hits a multitude of emotions. The Beasts of Burden story arc began with giving the audience a sudden shock and awe moment.
With artist Tony Daniel teaming up with King, there are plenty of panels with minimal dialogue, letting the art do the talking. Just when things seemed like they were turning in the right direction for Bruce, Tom King kicks him right back down. Batman #55-57, like a train, starts slow but picks up speed fast, and doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon.
A Turn For The Worst
The Beasts of Burden story at first came off feeling like a bit of a filler story from the start of Batman #55. The story picked up with Bruce and Nightwing patrolling the rooftops. Dick, being his laid-back self, is doing everything he can to get the old Bruce back. The Bruce we were used to before Selina left him. Issue #55 had its humorous moments but, again, felt a bit like a filler issue for the most part.
Then, once we let our guard down for a slight moment, Tom King yet, again, breaks the hearts of countless readers. After following around KGBeast, an old Batman villain and Russian assassin, we find him inside a building with Nightwing and The Dark Knight in his site. An issue that seemed slow and almost meaningless took a quick 180 when KGBeast shot down Nightwing right in front of Bruce.
Hunting The Beast
The Beasts of Burden story arc continued in Batman #56. Bruce begins his hunt to find Nightwing’s shooter. We see Batman interrogating multiple thugs receiving as much information he needs until he discovers who he is looking for. The issue also follows KGBeast having a conversation with his father about his past fights with Batman.
KGBeast’s conversation takes a personal turn when his father asks him why he kept him alive. After the beast gives his answer he kills his father when he shows a slight bit of weakness when he confesses his love to him.
One interesting point to notice in this issue is that it’s never revealed if Dick survived the shot to the head or not. The fact Dick got shot is essentially thrown to the side in order to focus on Batman’s quest for vengeance. King writes Batman much differently in this issue than his past stories. Batman is determined to find the shooter and with his rage it shows that nothing will get in his way. Opposed to the previous arc where Bruce was questioning his own effectivness.
Tony Daniel’s art makes the story flow smoothly. Switching between Batman’s story and the story following KGBeast. Tom King’s Batman is much different than Scott Snyder’s previous version. Where Snyder’s had much more dialogue and internal monologue, King lets the art to a lot of the talking. Once Bruce discovers the man behind the shooting, he makes his way towards his target.
Let It Snow
In the third phase of the Beasts of Burden story arc, we get a similar story style as the first two. Throughout the issue, King and Daniel switch between what seems to be an old children’s story about a bunch of small animals, and the battle between Batman and KGBeast. Once again Tom King is minimal in his dialogue when it comes to Batman. During the fight, there is virtually no words spoken other than a few grunts here and there.
Without the help of dialogue, Tony Daniel creates a brutal battle between Batman and KGBeast. Making every punch or kick felt. Once Batman hands the knockout punch to KGBeast, he does not ask who hired him, or why he shot Nightwing. Bruce simply went after the Beast for revenge. Despite KGBeast insisting he will tell Batman who hired him if Bruce saves him, Bruce denies him. Batman says in the most Batman way ever that
“I’m the worlds greatest detective. I’ll find who hired you.”
Tony Daniel’s style of art gels perfectly with Tom Kings story telling ability. Daniel’s art effortlessly gets the reader hooked into every scene he draws. Teaming up with Tomeu Morey on colors, the duo make for one of the best teams in the industry. Creating beautiful emotion, yet brutal violence.
Again, through the entire story arc, Daniel switchs back and forth between storylines. There are 2 storylines taking place in each issue. Daniel does a brilliant job creating a good pace in the story and making each panel exciting to look at.
Final Thoughts On Batman “Beasts of Burden”
Tom King’s run on Batman has been a much different style then what we are used to for the character. Throwing Bruce through a roller coaster of emotions. From happiness, to depressed, to angry. The question of whether Dick survived the shot is still in the air. Even Nightwing #50 doesn’t answer the question. It is interesting that the creators seem to have thrown that plot point to the side.
With a lot of people seemingly assuming he is dead, would it really surprise anyone to find out he’s not? No. The team of Tom King and Tony Daniel feel like a perfect fit. Daniel’s sensational art gives life to Tom King’s stories that keep the dialogue to a minimal. We will have to wait until Batman #58 to see if Bruce finds out who hired KGBeast.