Bruce Wayne has always been a companion to loss. Loss has always haunted the man beneath the cowl of The Bat because loss is what catalyzed Batman’s birth in the first place. This year, The Dark Knight has experienced several losses. First, he lost the woman he loves. Now, he faces the loss of a son. In BATMAN #56 ‘s predecessor, KGBeast shot Dick Grayson A.K.A. Nightwing right through the head.

Now, Batman is on the hunt for the man responsible, the man wanting to make The Dark Knight experience more pain than he ever has before. Meanwhile, Nightwing is fighting for his life, facing an ambiguous, dark fate.

batman #56
BATMAN #56 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Dark Knight Strikes Again

BATMAN #56 traverses two narratives. The first features Batman’s unwavering hunt for KGBeast following his vicious strike on Nightwing. Interestingly though, despite the events that have just transpired, Batman maintains a collected nature. We witness him operate in a calculated method, avoiding irrationality in a search that is undoubtedly personal. However, we as readers are aware that Batman is on the brink.

We are aware that he cannot fathom losing yet another individual for whom he cares for. Thus, he focuses all of his energy into one objective he cannot afford to lose: finding the man responsible. Meanwhile, KGBeast has traveled to meet with his father. Immediately, we are made aware that the two’s relationship is incredibly tense. KGBeast’s father detests his own son. He believes him to be weak since Batman has defeated KGBeast numerous times, even contributing to the loss of an arm in one confrontation.

Thus, the intensity between the two reaches a head when KGBeast shoots and kills his own father. Following this, Batman finally locates KGBeast, who is patiently waiting for The Dark Knight’s entrance. Ultimately, BATMAN #56 continues building on the intensity its predecessor expertly captured, most apparently felt in the sequences between KGBeast and his cold father.

However, in this issue, that building process moves slower. As a result, the work feels monotonous. Its cliffhanger ending is also disappointing as most of the issue felt as though it was building towards a more climactic ending. So, hopefully, the subsequent issue will bring a grand resolution to this shocking arc.

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BATMAN #56 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of BATMAN #56

The strongest aspect of BATMAN #56 is undoubtedly its artwork. Firstly,  Tony S. Daniel’s cover is epic. I love how he presents Batman monochromatically. This technique creates a gorgeous juxtaposition between Batman himself and his absorbing background.

Also, Francesco Mattina’s variant cover is positively captivating. It truly captures the tone of BATMAN #56 as it presents Batman and Nightwing through dark tones. However, he contrasts those dark tones with strokes that resemble blood obscuring a pair of eyes. As a result, this cover conveys a disturbing quality that fits the grim nature of this particular arc.

Now, in regard to the artwork of the issue itself, I particularly enjoy the intimacy of the scenes between KGBeast and his father. The panels tend to centralize on KGBeast’s father’s expressions and actions, bringing us into his stoic nature. Now, I do wish some of the images maintained more sharpness.

I also wish some of the panels were not so closed in on characters, permitting the settings to play more of a role in various sequences. With that being said though, BATMAN #56’s artwork is truly admirable as it brings the events of the narrative to life in a dynamic manner.

What Lies Beyond

There is a multitude of questions BATMAN #56 did not directly address. Firstly, is Nightwing alive? The fate of who some perceive to be Batman’s son is still up in the air. It is clear that Batman himself is avoiding acknowledgment of the fact that Nightwing is close to death.

Rather than acknowledging that reality, Batman is totally immersing himself in the hunt. Now, whether or not that hunt will end in Batman’s favor also remains to be seen. BATMAN #56 gives us a taste of the fight that lies ahead. I only hope that BATMAN #57 gives us that climactic stand-off we anticipate.

BATMAN #56 by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel, Danny Miki, Tomeu Morey, & Clayton Cowles
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Summary
BATMAN #56 seems to build towards something grand, but it ultimately fizzles in its cliffhanger ending.
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an anti-climactic turn
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One Comment

  1. […] 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 […]

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