Batman: Killing Time # 5 Review
Five editions in and I know Killing Time is going to be a book I’ll really be reading again when it’s done. As much as I go back and forth on the little things that are not perfect with this series, I have to admit that I like it. I like it quite a bit. This edition reinforces that feeling as there are many players joining together.
King continues to jump around in time, but this case feels more focused. You have larger parts of the story focused in the same time frame, and the scenes used in the past are placed in such a way that it all makes sense and follows well. There’s another element in the whole story that makes the frequent time jumps finally click for me, but it’s deep spoiler territory as we only learn about it at the very end of the edition. Suffice it to say that I like the twist on the eye everyone has been looking for.
I like the twist too, although it does not surprise me at all, so it does not feel like that much plot twist to me. More like a natural answer to the mystery of the narrator. I also agree that I will read this story again when it is finished. I have a feeling that once you know the ending, it’s easier to appreciate the story, because you want to know why King makes all these “weird” narrative choices.
The big focus in this issue is to get everyone in one of the most chaotic, heartbreaking and brutal face games I’ve read in a while. The book opens on pages that show us a part of this meeting that went very wrong by describing a series of deaths that occur over a very short period of time. The cast of characters is varied, with goons from just about every member of Batman’s villain gallery present. It then goes back to tell us how all these characters came together.
Just about everyone we’ve seen so far has a moment to shine in this issue, and there’s a lot to balance, but I think King’s doing well. When we look back at the series as a whole, this action-packed problem fits well with some of the calmer ones we’ve seen. No character really stays in the spotlight for long, they have just enough time on the side to keep the action going. This is not a problem, because at this point we know their motivation well enough to accept each character’s actions for what they are. So even though the problem is busy and full of characters and scene changes, it flows well.
It flows pretty well! However, I have mixed feelings about the opening sequence of the issue. On the one hand, I think it’s cool that the creative team takes the time to show us the brutality of history’s great struggle, because I feel that this is an element that is often ignored by other writers, where we at best just sees characters striking poses in the background. Here it really feels like we are in the middle of a fight. On the other hand, none of the characters whose deaths are described in detail are important grades. So even though the match is stylishly stylish and a big cold open to start this issue, I’m not sure why I need to know all this information about characters that only appear in one panel and that we will never see again.
King also returns to the historical flashbacks, and I do not mind them here. The slow build-up of these characters, events, and the eye’s general chronicle history has begun to make these segments feel worthwhile rather than time-consuming. They help add some authenticity to this strange treasure everyone is trying so hard to get hold of, and tell us more about the eye itself. More than Batman is willing to admit at least.
As for these flashbacks, I liked them quite early in the series. King is just not the type of writer who casually puts in some flashbacks to ancient times. But it is this case that really made me realize how good looking back actually is. Without these, it would just read like another Batman story where there is 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 established here.
I’ve talked a lot about how much I generally appreciate David Marquez’s art during this series, but I also wanted to talk about Clayton Cowles’ letter in this case. Especially one page. Marquez’s art here is quite simple, and follows the eye as it rolls down a hill in the middle of this ongoing struggle. There’s something about the way Cowles lays out the sounds of shots and fights that makes the atmospheric moment of this prize randomly roll through the grass to really work. Onemonopea starts by filling the panels, loud and big and close to the match, but gradually they get smaller and smaller, leading the audience away from it and on to the revelation that awaits us at the end, and I think it works very well. as well as a subtle way to also guide the reader, alongside the art, the narrative and the paneling.
Before we end, I want to criticize one aspect of this book, and that is the fact that Batman feels more like a supporting character than the main character. While not necessarily a bad thing, because the story works well enough as it is, I think Batman does not get enough moments to shine. There are even times I completely forget Batman because I’m so set on the other parts of this story. So far, Batman has just run after Riddler and Catwoman, and he has beaten people. Long story short, I think Batman is underused. Take him out of the story, and it would not even change that much. Hopefully, King will show why Batman is needed in this cartoon from a narrative point of view.
The problem itself ends in a way that made me legally excited to address the next one. We finally get to know who has told this whole story, and more importantly how they have been able to tell events as well as they have done. It’s a question that’s been on my mind for most of this series, just who’s telling it, and how do they know so much? King answers nicely here, with information given throughout the issue, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does with it in the next issue.
- High-paced, action-packed problems are your thing
- Myth and legend in Batman is something you want
- You do not mind stories focused on many characters
All in all
This edition of Killing Time pushes action across the plot, but in a balanced way. The story pushes itself less forward because the characters speak and more because events demand it. King juggles the cast well, keeps everyone true to their motivation, and readers entertained all the way. There is another strong entry to this series.
Score: 7.5 / 10
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.