"Batman: Kings of Fear #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by DC Comics
Written by Scott Peterson
Illustrated by Kelley Jones
Colored by Michelle Madsen
Lettered by Rob Leigh
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on August 22nd, 2018
Batman was already having a rough night. He managed to stop the Joker from murdering a group of hostages and now he's brought the Clown Prince of Crime to Arkham Asylum only to find a breakout in progress. This is just the beginning, as he's about to have an encounter with the Scarecrow's fear gas.
I know that all of this may sound like old hat for Batman. On the surface, this is like a routine evening for the Dark Knight. This is what he signed up for. The difference here – and why I'm writing about it on HorrorTalk – is Kelley Jones' artwork. It is a startling and grim style that works so incredibly well in Gotham City. Jones' pencils are at home in the shadows.
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Jones' characters have an old-school look to them, harkening back to an earlier era of Batman with a pointed cape ending in jagged lines. The Joker is a real standout too, at times looks like Cesar Romero, who portrayed the character in the 1966 Batman TV series. It comes out in the eyes. They're full of madness and when they peek out from the shadows, you want to scream in terror.
Colorist Michelle Madsen completes the package, bringing back the classic blue and grey look of the caped crusader. This color scheme evokes the feeling of an earlier time in Batman's adventures. There's a larger palette at work, coming out of the darkness just enough to know that there's a vibrant world underneath the grit and filth of the city.
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Under normal circumstances, the fight with the Joker would be enough. Batman: Kings of Fear comes out of the gate swinging with an all-out brawl featuring a gang of villains, including Two-Face, Bane, Poison Ivy, and more. This battle is heightened with letterer Rob Leigh's sound effects. They are the only words on the page, perhaps also another send-up to Batman '66. My personal favorite is the “PTSH” sound of a match lit by Poison Ivy as she frighteningly looks around for Batman.
It's been said that it's constantly night time in Gotham City. That's the tone you get from this place. The sun may never shine. That is certainly the vibe in Batman: Kings of Fear. There's a feeling of dread that comes through every page as Batman's evening gets worse and worse. We know that the Scarecrow is going to play a major part in this mini-series, so that will play up the horror angle considerably. Unfortunately, he's not in this issue all that much. It looks like that will definitely change in the near future, leading to some terror-filled adventures.