BATMAN #55 & #56

Did you know that Russian people are the fastest people in the whole wide world? No! Wait a minute! Not Russian. Rushing! Damn. I always get confused between those two. Although, not as confused as when I tried to read the following adventure created by Tom King, Tony Daniel, and published by DC Comics in October, 2018.

TO QUOTE Ronald Reagan: 'My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes'.

One night, while Batman and Nightwing are both patrolling the mean streets of Gotham City, a cold-hearted brute from overseas slowly gets ready for his next mission. A mission, I hasten to add, that involves him checking into his hotel room, purchasing weapons and ammunition, before getting into the correct position so he can lock, take aim, and then open fire directly at his intended target. Namely, Dick Grayson, commonly known as that guy who used to be Robin, who gets shot in the head roughly around the same time he and Batman are talking to Commissioner Gordon.

Don’t worry though, because Dick isn’t dead. Well, I don’t think he is, anyway. Yet that doesn’t stop Batman searching for the man who’s behind this: The KG Beast, otherwise known as Anatoli Knyazev, doing so as soon as the deed is done!

But wait up!  Where should he start his search? Gotham, or somewhere further afield?  Plus who can possibly point him in the right direction? Bronze Tiger perhaps? Kanto? Or how about someone closer to home? Someone like, The Beast’s Dad! Want to know more? Then please pick up issues 55 and 56 of Batman today. In the meantime though, here, check this out…

Part One) BEST OF THE BEAST:   The KG Beast made his comic book debut in issue 417 of Batman, cover dated March, 1988, and he was created by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo, the same creative team who were behind the now classic death of Robin storyline, ‘A Death in the Family’. Since then he has gone on to have a fairly mixed career: Starting off on a particularly strong note, by cutting off his own hand to accomplish a mission, only to then slowly fade into obscurity after being defeated by the likes of Tim Drake, Killer Croc, The Teen Titans, Bane, and King Snake, among other characters who popped up during the Chuck Dixon era.

Now though, Anatoli Knyazev, which is The KG Beast's real name, seems to be on the rise again. After all, Tom King has been able to present him in a fairly foreboding and mysterious light, almost making him out to be the man he once was: Silent, deadly, and as dangerous as a den of dragons. He’s also looking pretty good too, all thanks to Tony Daniel, who’s managed to render him in a more classic look, now sporting a military styled haircut, broad shoulders, a masculine figure, plus a lethargic dynamism that seems to suit his character to a tea. In fact, everything Tony drew throughout these two episodes was just wonderful to watch, ranging from those lavish double-page spreads, tightly-paneled close-up shots, as well as the way he illustrated people in action.

As for the actual story, on the other hand, well, that wasn’t too bad either. Tonally, issue 55 began this multipart arc in a fairly low-key fashion, doing so by recounting Anatoli's arrival in Gotham and then contrasting it to the antics of both Batman and Nightwing. Out of the two, I’d say they both had their fair share of decent moments; because The Beasts monolithic introduction was slow, methodical, and full of intrigue and suspense, whereas those scenes which featured the dynamic duo were far more jovial and fun. As a matter of fact, they were so fun, sometimes they distracted from the other part of the plot, what with Dick trying desperately to tell Bruce joke, after joke, after joke, which occasionally hit home and occasionally missed the mark.

Well, let’s face it, Dick isn’t a stand-up comedian and he doesn’t usually try so hard to make Bruce laugh. Admittedly, his intentions were good; as I’m sure he was doing it so he could make his friend forget about a certain cat burglar. Yet, in the same breath, it felt false, fake, and seemed somewhat out of character for someone who’s normally so serious and calm. In stark contrast to this, though, I did appreciate the atmospheric quality bestowed onto those sequences that centered on The Beast, as they were engaging, poetic, and very simple to follow. Ideally, I would’ve preferred it if some more time was dedicated to his character development, rather than reading a lot of naff jokes, which, in many ways, brings me quite nicely onto... 

Part Two) DADDY DEAREST:   ...issue 56. Or as I like to call it: ‘The story where The KG Beast spends some quality time talking to his elderly Father’. His estranged elderly Father, to be more precise, who also happens to be an alcoholic that beat him up when he was a kid! Come to think of it, he beat him up so much, The Beast cracked like an egg, SNAP!, which is why he killed most of his family and eventually became the man he is today: An assassin for hire. 

Now, my main problem with this revelation, dear reader, is that even though I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, especially that part where they both came out with some real juicy home truths, ultimately, the basic message behind this sequence was pretty difficult to swallow! After all, how many abused children do you know who turned out to be hired assassins? Not many, that’s for sure, and indirectly this gives off the wrong impression about victims of domestic violence. Admittedly, some do follow in their abuser's footsteps, and likewise become abusers themselves, whereas others can break the mold and lead a more productive life. Either way, in retrospect this type of story can’t really be summed up in half a comic book and generally needs more time, more scope, and more depth, to play out in a more heartfelt and meaningful fashion.

Along similar lines, I wasn’t quite sure about those sequences which featured Batman either. On the one hand, they were pretty pedestrian to follow, largely due to the simple approach he took to track down his quarry, whereas, on the other, they were fun as well, more or less, plus I particularly enjoyed the cameo appearances made by this month's special guest stars. Such as Bronze Tiger, for instance, who I’m happy to see again since he doesn’t appear in the Suicide Squad title anymore; along with Kanto, the New God, whose appearance did surprise me, quite a bit in fact, since he's shied away from teaching humans in other series, just like the previous Orion ongoing series.   

Still, with all that’s said, at the end of the day this episode was a fairly enjoyable one to read, just like its predecessor, as they were both nicely illustrated, simple to follow, and intriguing enough for me to want to find out more. What do you think, dear reader? Did you enjoy these two episodes, and if you did, how do you think it’s going to end? At a guess, I'd say that Batman will beat The Beast and things will work out for the best! So please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

OK. So this just might be my silly side speaking. But whenever I see, speak, interact with, or acknowledge a person from Russia, or any of the Baltic States, I always hear the following song echoing inside my head. The Russian National Anthem, and may Lenin have mercy on my soul. Katanga.

Yes. That’s right. I’m comparing both of these episodes to a bottle of vodka. If you want to know why; then please pick up any movie featuring a Russian person made between 1910 to the present day, and I’m sure you’d get your answer.

Dosvedanya, bottoms up, cheers mate, and comparison made.

At the end of issue 56, The KG Beast does something to his Dad that’s very surprising, to say the least. So, out of the following eight scenarios, let’s see if you can guess what he does to him? Could it involve...

  1. Paying off Daddy’s debts.
  2. Slapping Daddy across the arse.
  3. Showing Daddy dirty pictures of soil.
  4. Poisoning Daddy’s drink.
  5. Stealing Daddy’s mustache. 
  6. Shooting Daddy in the head.
  7. Giving Daddy a poem.
  8. Calling Daddy a bad name that rhymes with the word, ‘lunt’.
Nuff said. 

BATMAN #55 & #56 BATMAN #55 & #56 Reviewed by David Andrews on November 01, 2018 Rating: 5

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