Five issues in and I know Killing Time is going to be a book I’ll genuinely enjoy re-reading once it’s complete. As much as I go back and forth on the little things that aren’t perfect about this series, I have to admit that I like it. I like it quite a bit. This issue cements that feeling as it’s many players crash together at last.
King continues to jump around in time, but this issue it feels more focused. You have larger portions of the narrative focused in the same time frame, and the scenes spent in the past are placed in such a way that it all makes sense and tracks well. There’s another element to the whole story that makes the frequent time jumps finally click for me, but that’s deep spoiler territory as we learn about it only at the very end of the issue. But suffice to say, I like the twist regarding the eye everyone’s been searching for.
What do you think, Casper?
I like the twist as well, although it doesn’t surprise me at all, so it doesn’t feel like that much of a plot twist to me. More like a natural answer to the mystery of the narrator. I also agree that I’ll want to reread this story when it’s finished. I have a feeling that once you know the ending, it’s easier to appreciate the story, because you’ll know why King’s making all these “weird” narrative choices.
The big focus of this issue is getting everyone together in one of the most chaotic, heart pounding, and brutal face offs I’ve read in a while. The book opens on pages that show us a portion of this meeting gone very very wrong by detailing out a number of deaths that happen all over a very short period of time. The cast of characters is varied, with goons from just about every member of Batman’s rogues gallery present. It then backtracks to tell us just how all these characters got together.
Just about everyone we’ve seen so far has a moment to shine in this issue, and it’s a lot to balance, but I think King does it well. Looking back over the series as a whole, this action filled issue meshes well with some of the quieter ones we’ve seen. No one character really holds the spotlight for long, they’ve just got enough time on the page to keep the plot moving forward. That’s not a problem, because by this point we know their motivations well enough to accept each character’s actions for what they are. So while the issue is busy and full of characters and scene changes, it flows well.
It does flow pretty well! I do have mixed feelings about the issue’s opening sequence, though. On the one hand I think it’s cool that the creative team takes the time to show us the brutality of the story’s big battle, because I feel like this is an element that’s often ignored by other writers, where, at best, we just see characters striking poses in the background. Here, it really feels like we’re in the center of a battle. On the other hand, none of the characters whose deaths are described in detail are important characters. So while the battle is cool stylistically and a great cold open to start off this issue, I’m not sure why I need to know all this information about characters that only appear in one panel and who we’ll never see again.
King also returns to the historical flashbacks, and I don’t mind them here. The slow build up of these characters, events, and the general chronicled history of the eye has started to make these segments feel worthwhile instead of time fillers. They help add some authenticity to this strange treasure everyone’s trying so hard to get, and tell us more about the eye itself. More than Batman’s willing to admit to at least.
Regarding those flashbacks, I was enjoying these fairly early on in the series. King just isn’t the kind of writer who will randomly insert some flashbacks to ancient times. But it is this issue that really made me realize how good the flashbacks actually are. Without these, it would just read like another Batman story where there’s a MacGuffin in the form of a treasure. But with these, the story feels more mythical, and the treasure itself feels much more important because of the context that’s established here.
I’ve talked quite a bit about how much I’m generally enjoying David Marquez’s art over the course of this series, but I wanted to also talk about Clayton Cowles’ letters this issue. In particular one page. Marquez’s art here is fairly simple, following the eye as it’s rolling down a hill in the midst of this battle that’s been going on. There’s something about the way Cowles lays out the sounds of gunfire and battle that make the atmospheric moment of this prize casually rolling through the grass really work. The onemonopea start out filling the panels, loud and large and close to the fight, but gradually they get smaller and smaller, leading the audience away from that and on to the reveal waiting for us at the end, and I think it just works really well as a subtle way of also guiding the reader, alongside the art, narration, and paneling.
Before we close, I do want to critique one aspect of this book, and that’s the fact that Batman feels more like a supporting character than the main hero. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the story works well enough as it is, I do think that Batman doesn’t get enough moments to shine. There are even times that I forget Batman entirely because I’m so tuned into the other parts of this story. So far Batman has just been running after Riddler and Catwoman, and he’s been punching people. Long story short, I think Batman is underused. Take him out of the story, and it wouldn’t even change that much. Hopefully King will show why Batman is needed in this comic from a narrative point.
The issue itself ends in a way that left me legitimately excited to pick up the next one. We get to finally learn who’s been narrating this whole adventure, and more importantly how they’ve been able to narrate events as well as they have. It’s a question that’s been on my mind for most of this series, just who is narrating, and how do they know so much? King neatly answers it here, with information provided through the whole of the issue, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does with it in the next issue.
- Fast paced, action packed issues are your thing
- Myth and legend in your Batman is something you want
- You don’t mind narratives focused on lots of characters
This issue of Killing Time pushes action over plot, but in a balanced way. The story presses forward less because the characters are talking and more because events demand it. King juggles the cast of characters well, keeping everyone true to their motivations, and readers entertained throughout. It’s another strong entry into this series.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.