Though I’d pre-ordered Knight of Vengeance based off early solicitations, the last page of Flashpoint #1 had me rethinking this series. Might it be possible, I wondered, that in the Flashpoint reality Batman (aka Thomas Wayne) was actually Dr. Simon Hurt, black sheep of the Wayne dynasty and tormentor who’d been looking to claim the Wayne prestige and fortune (which he saw as rightfully his) for centuries? Having just completed a massive study of Grant Morrison’s Batman series, you can imagine that possibility appealed to me. I also thought it made a good deal of sense — doesn’t it seem like something that might interest the twisted Reverse Flash?
Ultimately, of course, that’s not what we get — the Thomas Wayne inside the Batman suit is indeed Bruce’s father. I feel like that’s a significantly less compelling scenario, but not wholly without merit. Still, Batman: Knight of Vengeance probably wouldn’t be worth reading without a stacked creative team. Luckily for us, DC has given the book to Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, a magnificent pairing who worked together on Vertigo’s landmark 100 Bullets series, as well as produced the excellent Batman story “Broken City” (Batman #620-625).
Art-wise, this book is everything you could want it to be. Risso’s a fantastic penciller who aptly navigates between the styles of artists like Frank Miller and Mike Mignola while injecting his own touch into every panel. He’s at his best when he’s drawing something menacing, whether it’s the psychoanalysis of Thomas Wayne which opens the book or the monstrous Killer Croc who attacks Thomas later on. Add to those panels the colors of Patricia Mulvihill and what results is a comic you’ll take great pleasure in looking at.
When it comes to the story, though, I feel like Knight of Vengeance could have given us more. For me the most intriguing thing about the book is Thomas Wayne’s unusual personal life, most notably his operation of Wayne Casino. As we learn in this issue, that’s done so he can keep an eye on crime and “fund its control.” Thomas also manages Gotham City’s security (which he lobbied to privatize) and at least one key cop knows about his double life. It’s a fascinating world our protagonist inhabits, and I would’ve liked to have had some time to explore it. Whether it’s a bi-product of shrinking page counts or Azzarello’s penchant for establishing mood, it doesn’t feel like the situation set up in Knight of Vengeance ever really sinks in. Indeed, over half the book’s pages are pretty standard Batman material — the hero goes after some kidnapped kids and must best a metahuman to save them. Of course, those scenes serves to illustrate the stark difference between Bruce and Thomas as Batman, so they’re far from wasted, but I feel like a little more focus on Wayne and less on his costume would’ve done the book good.
Knight of Vengeance #1 is certainly interesting enough to warrant following, and Eduardo Risso on a monthly book is always a welcome site. I do fear, however, that as the story progresses more of its pages will be devoted to straight-ahead action, and I hope that’s not at the cost of us really coming to learn how different Thomas Wayne’s world is.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more