Batman: Arkham Knight #10: “Burning the Days”

Written by Peter J. Tomasi

Illustrated by Ig Guara and Viktor Bogdanovic

Inked by Julio Ferreira and Richard Friend

Colored by Andrew Dalhouse and John Rauch

Lettered by Deron Bennett

…and the wheels keep spinning.

These are the hardest types of issues to review, the ones that are neither good nor bad, just straight down the middle.  If it’s great you can go on about how stunning the artwork is or how the plot took exciting twists and turns, and if it’s awful you can be driven by the passion of how much you disliked what you read.

For something exceedingly average, it’s just… there.  There’s some good, some bad, but nothing to make it tip over one way or the other.  The issue at hand, dealing with Calendar Man and the Scarecrow’s attempts to wear Batman out over the course of a week, is interesting in concept, but like too many issues lately it’s flawed in its execution.

The primary problem is that too much is going on with little time to either explain it or let it breathe.  When we left Batman last month, he was attacked by Solomon Grundy, who is being used by Julian Day as muscle.  An interesting twist to be sure, but Day has somehow created seven Grundys, without any explanation as to how.  All well and good, except… Grundy is one man, not some clone like Bizarro, and even if he were to be cloned, it’s never explained here.

Then there’s the kidnapping plot, where Day steals a newborn child to run Batman ragged even more.  This could have provided enough story for an issue by itself, but until the final pages when it’s resolved in a frustrating anticlimax it just feels like an afterthought.

Then there’s the poisoning of 365 Gotham citizens, which again could have been a whole story on its own, but instead it’s just one more piece of a giant puzzle being put together without looking at the image on the box.  Every single one of these threads is genuinely interesting, especially when the citizens of Gotham come together to try and find everyone who has been poisoned, but trying to cram everything into one single issue was a mistake.

There are some genuinely good aspects here, don’t get me wrong.  I got a pretty big smile when people started standing up and helping their fellow citizens out, which was a nice earnest counterpoint to a lot of the cynicism in comics today.  Tomasi still has a way with dialogue, especially a truly great exchange between Gordon and Aaron Cash.

The Arkham Knight is also featured in a small sub-plot, and it’s actually genuinely funny.

Obligatory #SuperRad motorcycle shot.
Obligatory #SuperRad motorcycle shot.

Other than mustering villains to take down the Batman, it’s still not entirely clear to someone who hasn’t played the game what his ultimate plan is, but it does feel like it’s starting to gain some traction, which is good.

Ig Guara and Viktor Bogdanovic swap art duties through the three installments that make up this issue, and while such a schizophrenic assignment of artists could potentially lead to confusion and frustration, their styles play off each other pretty well.  Almost too well, in fact, because even knowing they shared credit this issue I hardly noticed while reading, but their work is solid so it’s all good.

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I particularly liked this creepy sequence with Day under the influence of Crane’s fear gas.

There’s quite a bit of Arkham Knight coming in the next few months, and as much as I’ve been enjoying the book on average, hopefully it actually gets somewhere soon.  I don’t want to have fatigue, but unless we get somewhere fast, I’m thinking I will soon.

Recommended if:

  • You like the Arkham games.
  • You’ve been reading thus far.
  • You can appreciate even the smallest scenes of fine dialogue and character interactions.

Overall: About three issues worth of plot crammed into one, this should have been better than it is.  Instead, multiple threads that could carry their own stories are introduced and either discarded or resolved quickly so as to move on to the next conflict.  There’s still good dialogue here, particularly the aforementioned exchange with Gordon and Cash, and Vicki Vale’s intrusive reporting brings out some pretty good lines about the necessity of Batman, but as a whole it falls flat.  A shame, too, since Calendar Man was one of the creepier villains in the games; he deserves a better shot than what he was given.

SCORE: 5.5/10