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Batman #69 Review: Knightmares Finale “The Last Dance”

The Dark Knight is breaking through the bad dreams and coming out the other side. But is he ready for the culprit waiting through the veil of terror?

Batman’s journey through nightmarish episodes comes to its conclusion as he comes to terms with his most recent fears and learns why he’s being tested and what he must do to succeed.

The Knightmares storyline was filled with questionable moments and confounded a large portion of the readership. Was this just a misstep?  A breather in an otherwise renowned run on the character?

On the strength of this, we should probably give Tom King leeway before doubting him so quickly again. This is a strong issue with intricate writing that calls back further past “Rooftops” and is rooted in “I am Bane”. Tom King’s entire run is an intricate tapestry and the man should be applauded for having such vision and a firm grasp on it to reward readers who have stuck with it and paid it the utmost attention.

The conversation with Selina is heartbreaking — the perfect encapsulation of what it feels like to finally admit the truth to yourself. The explanation of Bane’s motivations juxtaposed against Thomas Wayne’s are simple, effective, and ingenious.

Yanick Paquette pours so much soul and Batman DNA into the layouts and art that to critique it for any flaw would be foolish. At times the art is reminiscent of a moody Kevin Nowlan work, at times the smarts behind the structure and bending conventions take a page from J.H. Williams III. The storytelling and detail are at a level of excellence usually reserved for milestone issues or prestige publications. It’s so good to see that level applied to regular series issues.

Nathan Fairbairn renders colors that truly pay respect to the dream state of the arc while also perfectly capturing each era, each moment of Bat-history that is visually referenced throughout the issue. His tones give everything an earnest and palpable quality even as your brain interprets the imagery as false.

Clayton Cowles, THE best letterer working today, rises to the occasion with the creative team to pepper the issue with the underlying sounds and throwback action effects to confuse your senses. Like the masterful craftsman he is, his letter work has you swearing that you’re hearing what your eye is seeing.

Batman #69
Is it good?
Tom King pulled out a Houdini like escape that not only rescues the most meandering and questionable moments of the Knightmares story arc but completely justifies all of it. The art work is poetry in motion. While his entire run has been littered with peaks and valleys, this issue soars above and sits amongst his best issues on this run.
pays off the story arc beyond expectation
fantastic, intricate, detailed art
entrenched in batman mythology
flashpoint Thomas Wayne
we still had to wade through Knightmares to get here

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