Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that the best thing about DC’s Flashpoint mini-series event isn’t the main story itself, but rather all of the Elseworlds-esque mini-series that are spun out of it. One of the most promising ones just from the announcements was Batman: Knight of Vengeance, thanks to it reuniting Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Patricia Mulvihill, and Dave Johnson. And now that it’s out? Well, it’s quite frankly exactly what you would expect from the creative team of 100 Bullets.

Azzarello was given a Batman where Bruce Wayne died with his mother in that alleyway, and it was his father Thomas Wayne that survived and eventually became Batman. Azzarello seizes on this concept as one that would create a radically different Batman for us to read about; instead of a young boy whose life is reshaped by the loss of his parents in front of him, rebuilding his life to stop crime, we have a father whose son died in front of him and whom will do anything to stop the criminals as he wallows in grief over his lost family. This is a Batman who will leave a machete embedded firmly in the skull of Killer Croc without batting an eye, and has opened up a series of casinos to draw the criminal families in and try to control them that way. Azzarello makes sure to write him as a different character than Bruce, and from his opening confrontation with his psychiatrist to his actions in the Batman costume, it’s hard to ever try and confuse the pair.

Tonally, it’s hard to keep from comparing Knight of Vengeance to 100 Bullets, and with good reason. It’s grim and dark, although not without the occasional spark of dark humor to buoy the reader through. From Azzarello and Risso, Gotham City is less New York and much more a run-down incarnation of Chicago, with bridges carrying people over those left down below, and the further toward the ground you travel, the more dilapidated the city becomes. Given free reign to do what they want in Knight of Vengeance, they’ve transformed it into something compelling.

Risso’s art is just as beautiful as I remember it from 100 Bullets, with clear figures that can straddle the line between carefully composed portraits and cartoonish caricatures, depending on the situation. Gilda Dent’s mascara running down her face looks more like a mask than something we’d see in real life, but the image is still striking and memorable in bringing across her grief. And when we descend into the sewers, Risso and Mulvihill make it a dingy and grime-filled trip to hell. From the rising hulk of Killer Croc to the squalor around Croc’s captives, it’s a perfectly drawn sequence.

Looking at Flashpoint as a chance to serve up some Elseworlds stories is ultimately the way to go. In many ways, Knight of Vengeance #1 has whetted my appetite for their upcoming Spaceman far more than the teaser in Strange Adventures did. It’s nice to be reminded that Azzarello, Risso, Mulvihill, and Johnson all still have got it, and then some. Don’t worry about that Flashpoint logo at the top of the book; this is a thoroughly enjoyable comic.

1 comment to Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1

  • Ogami Itto

    I wish the post-Flashpoint, rebooted DCU Batman was going to be Thomas Wayne; decades of a self-pitying Bruce no longer interests me.

    I’ll also miss Dick Grayson as Batman since lots of potential is being squandered.