Just when you thought you could predict writer Tom King’s course within the Batman mythos, BATMAN #55 arrives to prove you wrong. The issue is a great deviation from its predecessors. It dives back into action-packed set pieces and primarily focuses on Batman returning to that action, donning his iconic trunks in the process.

Now, what makes BATMAN #55 such a stand-out work lies in its slow burn.

The motivations of the characters and the progression of the plot come together to build the issue’s tension until it erupts in the issue’s final, shocking pages.

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BATMAN #55 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Boys Are Back In Town

The beginning of BATMAN #55 introduces the notorious KGBeast’s return to Gotham City. Though his return is highlighted in the issue’s opening pages, his mission in the city is ambiguous. All we are initially aware of is that he is on the hunt for someone or something, which is intimidating enough.

King’s development of KGBeast’s particular narrative is stellar. It is measured in mystery and horror as we traverse the brief acts that ultimately contribute to BATMAN #55’s unforgettable conclusion. These acts include KGBeast purchasing a sniper rifle and choking a man to death. Thus, these brief vignettes into KGBeast’s narrative contribute to that aforementioned tension the issue builds. We witness his violence and meticulousness, yet we are unaware of the motives behind it all.

Ironically though, the adventures of Batman and Nightwing greatly bolster that tension within their own side of the story.

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Their narrative is initially much more lighthearted as they battle some mummies side by side while Nightwing continuously cracks jokes to Batman’s annoyance. Despite Batman’s annoyance, it is clear he is happy to have some companionship during a dark, lonely time.

As a result, though, there is a great discomfort lurking beneath Batman and Nightwing’s adventures. King makes us aware that evil is brewing and will come for the Dynamic Duo. However, we are uncertain as to when that evil will hit since we are sidetracked by lighthearted moments.

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BATMAN #55 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Killshot

That discomfort is why the conclusion of BATMAN #55 is so acute. Every bit of tension culminates in one shocking moment. Upon the final pages of BATMAN #55, we come to learn that the issue’s events take place on the anniversary of The War of Jokes and Riddles’ end.

So, it is only fitting that more tragedy ripples from one of Gotham’s darkest ages and marks its anniversary. This is exemplified when KGBeast uses his sniper rifle to shoot Nightwing right through the head. Of course, one may presume that this event will eventually be undone. Personally, though, I cannot help but wonder if those thoughts are merely wishful thinking. BATMAN #55’s predecessors highlighted Dick Grayson’s relationship to Batman in a nostalgic manner. So, what if that was done because their time as the Dynamic Duo was coming to an end?

Regardless of what is to come, BATMAN #55 is a cohesive, robust issue. It has us on the edge of our seats as we wade through the uncertainty King builds throughout. Additionally, the final moments are undoubtedly shocking. However, they carry much more weight to them behind that shock factor. Batman is in a deplorable state. Therefore, the possibility of him losing yet another individual he cares for is absolutely devastating.

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BATMAN #55 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of BATMAN #55

The execution from the artistic team of BATMAN #55 is exceptional, to say the least. The amount of detail Tony S. Daniel’s pencils maintain is almost incomprehensible. The intricacies of the Gotham City setting provide the city with broad dimensions.

I always appreciate when artists breathe life into Gotham City as I have always perceived the place as its own character. It provides sustenance to Batman and his immense Rogues’ gallery of villains. So, it is always nice to see the city possess the attention it deserves. Ultimately, each and every panel in this issue is its own masterpiece, establishing a dynamic energy.

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Tomeu Morey emphasizes that energy by implementing a diverse array of colors. I particularly enjoy the pink hues he incorporates throughout. Those hues liven up the darker tones of the imagery and narrative, balancing out the work as a whole.

It is interesting to note that those pink hues dominate the sequences depicting KGBeast. However, they maintain a subtle and limited presence within Batman and Nightwing’s moments, further emphasizing KGBeast’s own lurking presence throughout in addition to the impending doom he enacts at the end.

So, overall, BATMAN #55’s artwork succeeds through its depth. Poignancy and vibrancy consistently layer the images, contributing to a cohesive display of Batman’s latest adventure.

What Lies Beyond

Thus, BATMAN #55 is a thrilling issue. It takes the heartfelt aspects of its predecessor and shatters them in its final pages. Yes, it moves at a slow pace. However, that pace works in establishing a foreboding. We as readers constantly feel uneasy throughout this issue because we are made to feel that way. The artwork and the pace of the narrative’s development contribute to that.

As a result, all of these aspects come together to establish a solid installment.

BATMAN #55 by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel, Danny Miki, Tomeu Morey, & Clayton Cowles
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Summary
BATMAN #55 is an energetic, haunting issue that continuously builds tension until it detonates in the issue's horrifying, final pages.
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2 Comments

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  2. […] suffering a gunshot wound to the head in BATMAN #55, Dick Grayson has lost his memories. Now living with amnesia, will he be able to remember the hero […]

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