Batman #61 retells of perhaps the most thoroughly-covered event in comics history: the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Only this time, the investigation gets some help from none other than Batman himself.
Of course, DC gives away the twist ending in their solicitation for the issue. However, I like to go into a story while knowing as little as possible beforehand. So without spoiling it, I’ll say Batman #61 reintroduces a surprise villain brought in earlier in King’s run on the series. It’s the beginning of a new story arc, Knightmares, the title of which makes sense by the issue’s end.
King did a good job of catching me off guard in Batman #61. We have Batman investigating his own parents’ murders alongside the young Bruce Wayne. I thought at first we might be going in a more esoteric, supernatural direction, similar to what Kurt Busiek is doing with Batman: Creature of the Night.
That said, keeping your readers in the dark throughout most of an issue is a gamble. Maybe a more astute mind could pick up on hints of what’s going on throughout the book. I, however, was more just along for the ride, waiting for the story to make sense by its end. When we get to the story’s last three pages, though, I’m tempted to put on my best Shyamalan impression and shout “What a twist!”
Still, Batman #61 is an engaging read, and everything comes together coherently in the end, so I won’t complain about it too much.
Travis Moore’s artwork is detailed and expressive. Rather than opting for a shadowy, noir vibe in this old-school detective story, the scenery is surprisingly bright throughout the book. As a result, those more dark, stylized images jump out and seem to have more presence when they show up.
The page layout in Batman #61 is very straightforward. The panels are arrayed in evenly-spaced squares, so while it’s not the most exciting presentation, it gets the job done.
Finally, the colors by Tamra Bonvillain work in much the same way. They’re not the most inventive, but they are well-suited to the style of the book, and are expertly applied. There are enough moments where the ink and colors meld to create a truly striking image.
Batman #61 is an intriguing opener to the new story arc. I look forward to seeing where it’s headed, and I think most Batman fans will, too.