Fear is a theme that has been explored for years, by many different creative teams that have worked on Batman. Scott Peterson and Kelley Jones look to give us a different take on Batman when it comes to fear. Their 6 issue series begins with a well-executed set up in Batman Kings of Fear #1.
Something we rarely ever see Batman do is doubt himself. Out of all the DC characters, Batman may easily be the most stubborn. Can you blame him, though? How often is Batman wrong? Since this series was announced it has been said that throughout it, Batman will be facing the inner demons of fear, doubt, and insecurity on whether or not he is making a difference.
After the first issue we get a pretty good idea of how this series is going to go. Other than the Joker there may not be a better villain choice to bring out all these emotions from Batman than The Scarecrow. After all he does have the word scare in his name.
Heard This Joke Before…
The story picks up with an all too familiar sequence of events. The Joker and a bunch of crooks pulling off a warehouse robbery, and Batman comes to spoil the night. Kelley Jones’s art combined with the coloring from Michelle Madsen creates an effect that makes the pages pop right out to you. With close-ups of Batman’s facial expressions and punches thrown, help make this sequence artistically beautiful.
Once Batman takes The Joker captive, the two of them enjoy a long car ride to Arkham (The Joker enjoys it at least). Upon arrival at Arkham, there is a doctor who is quite displeased with the fact that Batman can come and go whenever he so chooses.
She also claims how he must claim some, little as that may be, but some responsibility for the criminal’s actions. We get a sense of Batman’s insecurity here as he snaps back at her saying “Their insanity is no more my fault than them not being cured is yours.”
A Dark Ally
After the caped crusader’s brief spat with the doctor, the alarm goes off. Joker and the rest of the rogues have escaped from their cells. As Batman heads in the direction of the villains, he urges all the doctors to run to safety. As Batman confronts the crowd of villains he cuts the lights.
This may have been the weakest scene in Batman Kings of Fear #1. Not only did it feel unnecessary, it just didn’t feel realistic.
Batman was able to take out Bane, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Joker, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, and Killer Croc in a matter of seconds. Considering his past with these characters, this seems like an impossible feat.
Setup To A Nightmare
After the fight had ended Batman returned to the doctors, where he continued to get criticized by the same one that was giving him a hard time earlier. This is quickly broken up when another doctor says that the Scarecrow had escaped as well.
Batman sprints to his Bat-mobile. He is met with by The Scarecrow who with the art from Kelley Jones looks straight out of your worst nightmare. The issue ends with a cliff hanger of The Dark Knight being gassed by Scarecrow.
The combination of Kelley Jones and Michelle Madsen work together to give us a dark and exciting tone to the issue. We get to see Batman dawning his classic grey suit with the yellow bat symbol on his chest.
A much different tone then what we’ve been seeing in Tom Kings run. The only flaw in the art was at sometimes the proportions felt off. Some body parts were much larger than they should have been.
The effect of giving us many different angles during fight sequences prevents them from getting dry or boring. The dark colors in which Madsen chooses to use, also adds a nice horror feel to the book.
With Batman’s huge build and the deep colors, the book shows a lot of comparisons to Knightfall, where Kelley was a cover artist for much of those issues. Paired with the dialogue by Peterson, it makes for a promising start to this 6 issue series.
Final Thoughts on Batman Kings of Fear #1
Batman Kings of Fear #1 is a solid read. Did it do anything to really blow us away? No, but it is still a fun issue. With Scarecrow said to be the main villain of the series, it was an interesting choice to not show him until the final pages. Not an awful choice in my opinion though.
This issue is clearly meant to set up the remainder of the series. Not a whole lot happens. The issue is used to show where everything stands. With the lack of Scarecrow it builds up the hype of his true arrival.
With 5 issues remaining to tell their story, Peterson and Jones have time to show us that this isn’s just another Batman story we have read 100 times. The hype is about as high as the expectations.