Writer Tom King’s “Beasts of Burden” arc has featured Batman’s relentless hunt for the man who gunned down Nightwing, none other than KGBeast. Now, in BATMAN #57, that hunt comes to a brutal end as the two enemies engage in their highly-anticipated battle.

Now, the boldest aspect of this particular arc has been King’s development of Batman through few words and actions. Rather, we have witnessed his character progression by merely following The Caped Crusader on his hunt. We have become aware that he is on the brink of losing control. We have become aware that he currently maintains one objective in order to evade the reality of Nightwing’s critical condition and that is to find and defeat KGBeast.

However, one cannot help but wonder if defeating KGBeast will truly bring an end to the conflicts “Beasts of Burden” has brought onto Batman and his family.

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BATMAN #57 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Bang, Bang

BATMAN #57 showcases a unique, and particularly wacky, narrative structure. The issue commences with KGBeast’s father reading him a folktale about a bunch of farm animals embarking on an adventure into a pit. Now, that specific story juxtaposes the vicious fight that commences between Batman and KGBeast himself.

The fight between them is undoubtedly bloody and unrelenting. KGBeast even shoots Batman in the arm and breaks off part of his mask. Though, Batman ultimately wins the fight by breaking KGBeast’s neck.

KGBeast offers to provide Batman with the name of the person who hired him to kill Nightwing in exchange for medical attention.

However, Batman rejects his offer and responds with one of the most Batman lines I have ever encountered:

“I got a bullet in my arm. And a body of hurt. There’s a 300 click walk ahead of me. Through nothing but snow and ice. I’m the World’s Greatest Detective. I’ll find out who hired you. And I will break them too. You can get your own damn help.

Meanwhile, the secondary tale of BATMAN #57 features the farm animals continuing on in their adventure that results in their shocking consumption of each other. In the end, the fox remains the sole survivor of the carnage. Though, whether or not he stayed in the pit remains unknown.

The final page of BATMAN #57 features Thomas Wayne finishing reading the story of The Animals and the Pit to his son, who begs his father to stay and continue reading the story because he fears being alone.

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BATMAN #57 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Descent Into The Pit

BATMAN #57 is mesmerizing. Firstly, the juxtaposition between KGBeast and Batman’s respective fathers reading them stories as children is especially poignant. The two may operate on different sides, but they were once children who had not been affected by the horrors of the world. There was a time when they were not exposed to and bred by violence.

Unfortunately, though, the violent turn of the folktale suggests that there is no way to save a child from the horrors of the world. One’s eventual exposure to and possible descent into darkness is perhaps inevitable. The animals of The Animals and the Pit exemplify that perception as well. There was never any hope for them to maintain a camaraderie amongst each other. In the end, only one of them was meant to survive as BATMAN #57 suggests that loneliness in this horrifying world is, at times, the only path one can take.

It is especially tragic to think of Bruce Wayne as a child who greatly feared loneliness. Of course, we have always known him as an adult who has developed in an isolated state. Though, this is not a state of being he used to want in any way, shape, or form. He never wanted to live alone, but that was the life thrust upon him.

As a result, Bruce does tend to rely on himself and himself alone. His refusal to take the name of the man who hired KGBeast surely stems from his own pride. Additionally, his rage is currently his strongest motivator. Batman wants to enact pain on those who have tried to take one of his only sources of happiness from him.

Thus, the rage will not stop as long as the mission remains active.

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BATMAN #57 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues Of BATMAN #57

The artwork of BATMAN #57 is simply perfection. Firstly, Francesco Mattina’s variant cover masterfully exemplifies the brutality and terrifying aspects of this work. Additionally, Tony S. Daniels’ cover depicts a beaten and broken Batman. Despite this beaten state though, Batman remains resolute in Daniels’ image. In fact, the image is quite intimidating because he appears so invincible and unyielding in his rage-filled mission.

In regard to the art of the issue itself, the juxtaposition Mark Buckingham and Andrew Pepoy provide in the folktale sequences is fantastic. There is such a stark contrast between the violence of the work with the lightness the folktale initially seemed to portray that it truly brings on sentiments of terror and discomfort.

Also, everything from Tomeu Morey’s coloring to Clayton Cowles’ lettering is incredibly cohesive. I particularly enjoy Cowles’ work on the page the depicts KGBeast shooting at Batman. That specific page is incredibly immersive as it kicks off the issue in such an exhilarating manner. So, overall, the artwork of BATMAN #57 embodies everything the narrative provides us within a captivating, sharp manner.

What Lies Beyond

The arc of “Beasts of Burden” may have concluded in this issue. However, we all know the hunt is far from over. The identity of the individual who hired KGBeast to kill Nightwing is still at large. Therefore, Batman has no other choice but to continue on in his rage because the fight never truly ends for someone like him.

BATMAN #57 by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel, Mark Buckingham, Andrew Pepoy, Tomeu Morey, & Clayton Cowles
BATMAN #57 is a tale of few words that manages to reach beyond its pages and reverberate into ourselves.
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