Review: BATMAN ANNUAL #4: Days in the Life of the Dark Knight

FIRST IMPRESSION

Tom King weaves a tale from the journal of Alfred Pennyworth, and in doing so creates one of the most memorable Batman stories in recent memory.
Writing/Story
Pencils/Inks
Colors
Letters
- Advertisement -

Taking a break from the turbulence of “City of Bane” in the main series, writer Tom King and artist Jorge Fornes remind readers what makes the Caped Crusader so endearing.

Alfred Pennyworth, beloved caretaker of the Wayne family and assistant to the Batman, logs every night of the Dark Knight’s “activities” for almost two months. From chasing criminals on horseback to fighting dragons in the Gotham streets, Alfred makes a note of the actions and emotions guiding Batman through his endless crusade against crime.

Review: BATMAN ANNUAL #4: Days in the Life of the Dark Knight 1
No, seriously, Batman fights a dragon.

King’s writing of Alfred here as an emotionally invested observer is genuinely some of the most heartfelt work he’s accomplished in his Batman run. He fills his quiet, analytical writing style with Alfred’s full knowledge of specific events without ever getting bogged down in excess exposition. There’s also very little dialogue, as the entire issue is laid out as a series of journal entries. Despite this, King is able to run through nearly every possible emotion that can be had in a Batman comic, from absurd, silly humor to heartbreak. One story is an amusing tale of Batman in a boxing match, and another is a tale of Bruce Wayne’s abandoned first love. King puts the Bat-mythos through any and every set of circumstances, from the street-level to the cosmic, and comes away with one of his most spectacular pieces of writing to date.

- Advertisement -

Review: BATMAN ANNUAL #4: Days in the Life of the Dark Knight 2
See Batman box.

The best way to describe artist and frequent King-collaborator Fornes’ work here is as a mix of Silver Age style and David Mazzucchelli’s work on Year One. Fornes nails everything he draws here, from distinct character facial expressions to ambiguous cosmic entities. The fact that his style remains so consistent while drawing so many situations places him as one of the most impressive artists working today. He gets a little help from artist Mike Norton, who draws a few pages further into the issue. This addition is likely due to the last-minute change of plans this Annual underwent. Fortunately, his inclusion is almost unnoticeable in the best possible way. His work blends nearly seamlessly with Fornes’, to the point where the artist change would likely go unknown if it wasn’t credited in the issue.

What makes this issue visually pop and makes Norton and Fornes’ work blend together so well is undoubtedly Dave Stewart’s colors. His color palate has a slightly muted sensibility to it, making it reflect the Golden Age noir moments and the Silver Age spectacle that this issue pays tribute to. The more detective focused scenes are cast in moody grays and subtle blues, while the big cosmic and fantastical moments are bathed in light. The tone of the comic is further aided by Clayton Cowles’ lettering, which is done in semi-cursive to mimic Alfred’s handwriting. Not only is it believable, but it also accomplishes this neat combination of being distant but also intimate. This isn’t a conventional narrative, just a collection of stories from another person’s eyes. Every part of this issue works together to ensure this concept works, and it pays off in spades.

Review: BATMAN ANNUAL #4: Days in the Life of the Dark Knight 3
Cosmic entities are no match for a dude in a batsuit.

King stated that his final Annual would be his “thesis/last word on Batman.” With only a handful of issues left of his run, it’s easy to see why King is delivering such an impactful issue here. “Batman Annual #4” is one of the most emotionally satisfying issues of Batman ever created. King and the wildly talented art team deliver an issue that pays tribute to the World’s Greatest Detective by examining everything that makes the character so special, from the eyes of one of comic’s most beloved supporting characters. Stop by your local comic shop by October 30th and make sure this one is in your pull list.


Save 50% on graphic novels, statues & more!
Avatar
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

SPONSORS

If you want your BUSINESS to be part of something bigger than itself, you might be a good fit to partner with Monkeys Fighting Robots.

Review: BATMAN ANNUAL #4: Days in the Life of the Dark Knight 8

CONTACT US

Review: BATMAN ANNUAL #4: Days in the Life of the Dark Knight 9

Are you a creator looking for a review of your book?
Use the form below to end us a message.

Are you a fan of the website and have a comment, question, or concern? Drop us a line, and we will gladly answer all your questions.

JOIN THE TEAM

Monkeys Fighting Robots is looking for passionate writers to drive the site’s coverage of the comic book industry. Authors will be responsible for a particular niche, providing reviews, opinion and news coverage, while building a reader community using his or her multimedia storytelling skills. The best candidates have solid writing skills, WordPress knowledge, and are engaged on social media. Do you love comic books and have a strong opinion, then we would like to speak with you.

Review: BATMAN ANNUAL #4: Days in the Life of the Dark Knight 10

MEET THE TEAM

COMIC REVIEW DIGEST, sign up today! At Monkeys Fighting Robots, we strive to talk about ALL aspects of a comic book, instead of just giving you a recap of the story.
  • Did you notice how epic the colors were?
  • That was a wicked panel layout by the artist!
  • What was the letterer thinking?
  • How did this comic book make you feel?
  • Most importantly, should you buy it?

Every Wednesday you will receive an email with our latest reviews and analyses, as well as our original comic strips and exclusive editorial content.
Thanks for signing up!