Knight Terrors #4 review

Why exactly was this four issues long? I understand that it’s the flagship series of the whole Knight Terrors event, but the whole thing is only two months. Did we really need to squeeze a prologue, an epilogue, and a biweekly series where Deadman and friends just sort of wander around until they run into the villain? Every other character’s tie-in is only two issues, and this could have easily followed suit. So many of the plot diversions feel totally superfluous in retrospect. Sandman’s whole involvement could have been omitted entirely and nothing would be lost (except maybe the ability to set up his miniseries, coming this October to a store near you). As the final fourth of an extended interlude, what we’re left with is a penultimate confrontation/flashback and a teaser for the real final fight.

With the nightmare stone now in hand, the trio make their way into Arkham Tower to try and defeat Insomnia. This series has been all about finding stuff to fill its pages, so Insomnia gives one more shot at assaulting Damian’s nightmares. I’m really glad that Damian was able to immediately identify that what he was seeing wasn’t real, but we already went through that. Damian has clearly established that he’s not going to fall for any of Insomnia’s tricks, so retreading that process falls somewhat flat.

The bulk of the story is devoted to an extended sequence where Deadman enters Insomnia’s mind and discovers his backstory and motivation. This is a mystery that has been artificially dragged out for far too long, so it’s at least nice to finally get some answers. Unfortunately, it’s an example of one of the most tired villain motives: “have you ever considered that the superheroes are actually the ones causing problems?” Every so often a comic book writer will have a villain drop this hot take, and it’s less impressive every time. Not only is it totally played out, but it relies on a very bad faith reading of the situation to arrive at that conclusion.

Admittedly, this scenario has a bit more merit to it than some given that his family died as collateral in a Justice League battle during one of the innumerable recent DC events. It’s true that it’s become more popular for stories to try and make all villains act as an extension of or response to the hero, making them somewhat culpable for drama. However, more than anything that only indicates a trend in comics where everything has become far too self referential (and not in the fun Grant Morrison way). Knight Terrors doesn’t even really commit to the concept. Instead of wanting revenge for his family dying, he just wants the whole world to suffer. It’s a worse version of Joker’s “One Bad Day” origin where a sufficiently tragic event somehow justifies any and all evil actions.

Of course, the issue ends on a big cliffhanger for the event’s big finale. It’s a frustrating way to end because it hammers home how little was accomplished in the actual Knight Terrors series. Despite nominally being the main event, the only thing that happened was that over the course of four issues is that we learned who the bad guy is. You’ll have to wait for for Knight Terrors: Night’s End #1 for the actual ending.

Recommended if…

  • You want to know what drives Insomnia to love nightmares so much
  • The mystery so far has kept you glued to the page
  • You feel you can never get enough Deadman


Knight Terrors #4 is the final issue to a series you’ll need the special epilogue one-shot to get any sort of conclusion. It reveals that the only purpose this entire series served was to deliver an overused villain origin and prompt you to read the rest of the tie-ins. Pick this up if you really feel the need to complete your Knight Terrors collection, otherwise there’s not much to recommend.

Score: 3/10

DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.