Kings of Fear #1 kickstarts a brand new miniseries that explores Batman’s psyche. The detective has to work through his own traumatic past after Scarecrow engineers a riot at Arkham Asylum, fighting his way through his own gallery of villains that wreak havoc after being freed. And the first issue is pretty impressive. The most recognisable thing about the series is that it’s not within the main continuity of Tom King’s current Batman series as part of Rebirth. It’s set after Bruce has been Batman for a few years, but is beginning to doubt himself, his mission and the method in which he deals with threats.
SCARECROW’S PLOT HAS PLENTY OF POTENTIAL TO BE A PSYCHOLOGICALLY FASCINATING EXAMINATION OF BRUCE WAYNE.
On one hand, it’s a fascinating look at the accountability that Batman should have. One of the nurses brilliantly points out that he strolls into Arkham whenever he likes with no background check or security clearance, but she had to fill out tonnes of paperwork just to get the job. And it’s true, he’s a complete stranger to everyone because of the mask – meaning he sees himself above the guidelines and the law. But at the same time, how can you hold a man like that accountable?
Kings of Fear #1 also shows us a truly maniacal Joker. But don’t let the classic art style and costumes fool you, his brutal methods of getting the Dark Knight’s attention are visceral and startling without being overly graphic. Plus, seeing the Bat dismantle a group of supervillains within mere moments is very impressive. The only problem with the first issue is that it hinges on the cliffhanger. Kings of Fear #1 spends too much time flying back and forth with the Joker being beaten up, captured, then being beaten up again. Especially when it seems that he’s not the main focus of this story, it’ll be Scarecrow who will resurface all of Batman’s worst fears.
Scarecrow’s plot has plenty of potential to be a psychologically fascinating examination of Bruce Wayne, but right now this felt more like a #0 issue before the main event rather than the start of the story. It’s a good job that the art style is mesmerising – with one panel in particular showing the raw power of Batman’s image in a dark room.
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A story with plenty of potential, but it spends too much time on The Joker...
- Art style