Just like last month, Matina and I will be teaming up to review Batman: Killing Time #2. We weren’t too impressed with the first issue of this series, but neither of us thought it was necessarily bad, either. The first issue set up a mystery, a heist and an adventure and, if anything, I was curious to see where this would go, even if the first issue was a bit on the boring side for me. So what about issue #2? Will the creative team find their footing and steer their course? Let’s have a look.
Let’s be honest, right off the bat…the nonlinear narrative isn’t working. I don’t see why this story couldn’t just be told in chronological order, instead. It might just be me, but I feel like this second issue is jumping around in time even more than the first one. At least the narrative feels a lot more erratic here, and I struggle to see the purpose of it. For example, there is a scene where Batman interrogates Croc in Arkham Asylum. The next scene–a meeting between Batman and Gordon–is actually meant to happen before the interrogation. After this, we leave Batman, Gordon and Croc for a while to focus on Croc’s girlfriend, and Selina and Joker. Only after we get through all of that, we finally get another scene that is meant to happen after Batman interrogates Croc. Why on earth does this play out in this order? The narrative isn’t coherent at all, which makes it hard for me to focus on the comic, let alone enjoy it.
I too feel like there are more jumps in this issue than in the last. My biggest problem with it here is that it makes the order of events very hard to follow, especially now that the timeline spans both days and months. There are, like last time, frequent notations of time and place but unlike last time when I joked about putting together some kind of spreadsheet or mystery board, I felt like I needed to do it here to keep track of everything.
I’m also frustrated by that Batman and Croc interrogation because it’s a perfect example of just why such frequent cuts can often hinder the story in other ways. Batman is seen being violent with Croc in his scene, and then we’re told an hour earlier that Gordon is insisting Batman not punch Croc. There was no narrative reason to show Batman breaking that rule early, in fact it makes more sense–and is funnier–to go chronologically here. It makes King’s use of this time jump technique feel less like it’s been planned with intent and purpose, and more like he just likes the style despite the impact it makes on the narration.
Furthermore, the narration is still too dry and factual for me and as a result I don’t find it very entertaining. All the dates and timestamps also keep throwing me off, rather than being helpful. But that’s not even the real problem that I have with the narration this time. No, it’s the fact that, out of nowhere, King uses first person pronouns, which suggests that this isn’t just some sort of police report, but that there’s an actual narrator attached to it. While I don’t mind that in and of itself, of course, I think the casual usage of first person pronouns in a single narration box in the entire comic makes for inconsistent reading.
I do find an actual character narrating Killing Time to be interesting, but there are a lot of potential problems and plot holes created with having that kind of narrator. Plus, not enough has been done with it so far to make it worth it to add in a brief moment that feels like a mistype.
What’s more, in the first issue we got a brief flashback to ancient Greece, and in this issue we get more of that. What’s crazy, though, is that at this point I’m more intrigued by the ancient Greece backstory than the main plot. The reason is that the main plot just seems so overcooked and needlessly convoluted in its execution, whereas the ancient Greece B plot at least has an element of mystique and eeriness that I find appealing. Of course, this isn’t exactly a positive point about the comic as a whole, not when the main plot is so confusing that the backstory almost feels like a relief whenever it comes up.
The Greece flashbacks for me could be completely omitted. I can feel King attempting to use them to critique the characters within the main story; however, I don’t actually see what he’s going for yet beyond general hubris. Part of that problem is that it is so spread through the narrative, and the other part is that I don’t care about an outside critique. The main story itself can just as easily highlight those points through simply taking us through these character’s journeys.
But I think the art is still pretty solid! Marquez draws fantastic layouts, characters and action sequences. The art reads smoothly, despite an erratic script, and it really is the only consistent aspect of this comic both in terms of quality and entertainment. However, I’m not entirely on board with the way that Sánchez colors this book. While it’s definitely quality work, there’s something about the aesthetic that almost makes some of the coloring look sort of plastic to me. I’m noticing this mainly in the lighting on characters’ faces, and it just isn’t really my cup of tea.
One of my favorite elements of this book–and series–is Catwoman and Riddler and Marquez does an amazing job visualizing the differences between how tense and concerned Selina is while waiting, and how relaxed Nygma seems to be. We see this constantly through the issue with moments where Selina’s tense by the cabin door as mail is delivered, or with Nygma delighted to catch a fish. The juxtaposition works because of how Marquez crafts their expressions and body language, and it just makes these scenes stand out in a way I love from the rest of the book.
- You are a fan of Riddler and Catwoman.
- You like nonlinear storytelling, even when it’s literally all over the place.
- You are a fan of Marquez and Sánchez.
Overall: Again, it’s not necessarily a bad issue. It’s just that I don’t agree with many writing choices that King is making, with the main problem being the nonlinear narrative. The art is very good, though. I’d only recommend this book to those who are either big fans of King’s work, or to big fans of Marquez and Sanchez. I’m not sure if casual Batman readers will enjoy this as much.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.