In Review: Batman: Kings of Fear #6

A fantastic conclusion to a great series.

The cover: His fists clenched, Batman turns to his right in a dark room, its floor covered in Batman logos, with several on the Dark Knight. Another outstanding cover from Kelley Jones and Michelle Madsen. I love the use of yellow on black and the logo looks exceptional on the page. Several of the shapes are on Batman and it makes him look swallowed by his own persona. Hmmm…perhaps the Scarecrow has been getting to me. Great cover. Overall grade: A

The story: Writer Scott Peterson wraps this issue up superbly. Last issue Batman broke from the Scarecrow’s spell and he subdues the villain quickly, as one would expect. However, the antagonist realizes something at the bottom of the third page. The dialogue between the hero and the villain on the fourth page is outstanding. Better is what Commissioner Gordon says to Batman. Every word he says is golden and though the ending panel action on 4 is expected, it was wonderful. The two pages that follow go in a neat direction with a minor character. It builds terrifically, but the character is abandoned to refocus on Batman and the Scarecrow. Yes, that’s where the reader would want to go, but this supporting character got a neat twist, some discussion on his choices, and then he’s abandoned. I was disappointed. At the infamous setting, another character tells Batman a story on how he’s changed their life. It’s four pages long and it, too, is beautiful. After having Batman go through hell with the Scarecrow, where he’s questioning his ability to help people, Peterson is having all the right people say the right things to the hero, and the reader. The final person to speak with Batman is perfect. There is no other person who could be so honest with Batman and he would actually listen. This person’s words are incredible. This supporting cast member usually gets a page or two in a typical Batcomic, but here this person makes an impact. I believed everything he said and I felt everything he said. His words absolutely justified Batman’s response in the second panel on the penultimate page. I’ve been reading Batman books for over forty years and I can’t recall ever having an ending to a Bat-tale with such a smooth delivery of what the character means to others and himself. I loved this. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals on this book are phenomenal. Kelley Jones does an outstanding job on the artwork. The first page is a full-paged splash that has Batman holding the Scarecrow by the throat and is hauling back his left hand to hammer him. The fear on the Scarecrow is great, but Batman is a monster. Plus, the shadow of Batman makes him seem as though his soul has gone wholly black. The next page is incredible for the emotion of the characters shown from amazing points of view. The realization on both characters’ faces at the bottom of Page 3 is awesome. The layout of the panels on 4 is great, especially that broken glass effect at the top, amplifying the shattering that’s been done to the protagonist. The look on Gordon’s face in the second panel on Page 6 is killer — it’s the perfect Dad moment for this character with it matching his dialogue sensationally. The back and forth within the close confines of the Batmobile is great: borderless panels that show two characters’ reactions. The lights that surround the pair are stunning. Page 10 is wonderful with the shadow work, the point of view of the second panel, the close-up in the fourth, and the utter defeat in the fifth. Plus, it wouldn’t be a visit to this locale if there wasn’t a cameo by its most infamous inhabitant, which kills! The first panel on 11 has Batman swallowing the page as he gets into someone’s personal space. If someone wonders how a caped character could frighten someone, they need to look at this book to see how it would. Batman’s reaction at the top of 13 is outstanding. Stealing the issue, however, is the final person to speak to Batman. He is strong, loving, and absolutely in Batman’s face, with the first panel on 20 the image of the book that makes every word spoken a punch. That’s why I so appreciated the first two panels on 21: acknowledgement on the hero’s face and that all is well for future adventures. The last page is a full-paged splash that shows the reader that all will be well. All that’s missing is Danny Elfman’s theme music. The artwork in this issue is the apex of modern Batman books. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Assisting Jones’s artwork are the superb colors by Michelle Madsen. The first page has spectacular colors that amplify the emotion: reds, oranges, green, browns, blacks — just WOW! The coloring of the letters on the second page is a glorious background for the intense imagery. The last two panels on 3 show the outstanding colors used with blacks to create an ominous tone. Look at the use of burnt reds on 4; they highlight the intensity in how the Scarecrow delivers his dialogue. The colors for the interior of the Batmobile on 7 and 8 are gorgeous. The light on 10 is wonderful, and how about those greens for Batman’s close-up and command at the bottom of the page? So cool! The most striking coloring of the issue is the first panel on 20 — it’s absolutely frightening and so perfect for the text. An excellent job by Madsen throughout! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Rob Leigh creates dialogue, loud pleas, computer screen text, a transmission, the story’s title, and the book’s credits. The words on Page 2 are epic. Without spoiling it, you’ve never seen a villain beg before the Dark Knight like this. There’s a small note on a screen to Lucius Fox and it’s fine and the credits that ends this book, as well as the story title, look incredibly classy. Leigh does great work. Overall grade: A

The final line: A fantastic conclusion to a great series. The visuals are the reason to pick this up, but my hat’s off to writer Peterson for having such a perfectly executed conclusion for the characters and the reader. This was a fun series and I will repurchase it once it comes out in hardcover. This is a great series to give to non-comic readers to hook them. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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