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Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall #1 Review

‘I promise you, Bruce. You were right to pick me.’

Co-writers Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins show us a world in which the Batman has fallen. Jean Paul Valley, a.k.a. Azrael has taken Gotham City by force. As the world descends into ruin, is it possible for the legend of the Batman to mean something greater?

How well this issue plays for you may honestly depend on how fondly you remember this certain period in DC Comics. I was a little kid when Knightfall and The Death and Return of Superman were happening, so there’s a lot of built-in wide-eyed wonder that I bring with me when reading these Dark Multiverse issues. In that sense, it’s hard for me to review this one without looking through rose-tinted nostalgia glasses.

So why bother trying to ignore those feelings? That’s honestly the point of a book like this, so I’m going to meet it on its own terms and say that I thoroughly enjoyed this. Anyone with a healthy amount of nostalgia for these big events of the early nineties is going to find a lot to love here, but I think the story is full of enough wild set pieces and interesting ideas to play for people who don’t have that attachment.

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This issue is easy to compare to DC’s Elseworlds line, but most of those fell more into the realm of alternate realities or futures. This has more of the feelings of classic What If?, with pivotal moments in comics history leading to far-reaching and often cataclysmic consequences, complete with Tempus Fuginaut making a particularly somber and imposing stand-in for Uatu the Watcher.

These Tales from the Dark Multiverse stories carry that promise of “our world gone wrong” with them, along with the sense that these stories will actually matter in the future, because these altered “heroes” have found their way to the main DC Universe in the past.

Without going into spoiler territory (because the twists come early and often in this issue), I’ll just say that there’s a ton of wild sci-fi body horror in this issue. It almost immediately goes off the rails (in an entertaining way), at times coming across as more METAL than Dark Nights: Metal. Between brains in jars, flaming swords, and drinking blood, there are scenes here that look like they sprang right out of a Lamb of God album cover.

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It’s all brought to grisly life by artist Javier Fernandez, who makes even the most nineties of designs look modern and imposing. Azrael’s futuristic suit is particularly intriguing, retaining the sharp edges and flowing cape of the original AzBat design, but adding a few more regal touches that fit the Order of St. Dumas.

It’s all brought to grisly life by artist Javier Fernandez, who makes even the most nineties of designs look modern and imposing. Azrael’s futuristic suit is particularly intriguing, retaining the sharp edges and flowing cape of the original AzBat design, but adding a few more regal touches that fit the Order of St. Dumas.

There are a few moments toward the end of the issue where it feels like character introductions and motivations get a tad murky and rushed, but that’s to be expected for a one-shot. However, the story accomplishes an incredible amount of world-building in such a short amount of time, with references to epidemics and disasters in the outside world. It all goes to show how wrong things could go without the right heroic influence in the heart of Gotham.

While many of the Dark Knights one-shots felt like open and shut cases (particularly since many of them ended with the death of their respective worlds), this is one story that I’d love to see revisited. There are so many hints of a wider world here, so it’d be a shame not to see more of it. Still, what we get is both reverential to the original storyline and utterly terrifying in its strangeness.

Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall #1
Is it good?
This is a dark trip, but anyone who remembers the original 'Knightfall' will likely have a blast seeing what happens when it all goes wrong.
The story is dark and foreboding, yet true to the characters
The artwork is phenomenal, bringing to mind the original story while adding new flairs to these classic sequences
Takes the story in some truly wild directions that you won't expect
A few moments feel slightly rushed, which honestly just adds to my hopes that we'll revisit this world at some point
9
Great
Comments

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