In Batman Knightfall Volume 2: Knightquest, Chuck Dixon comes back strong as he delivers the second installment of this trilogy. While less notorious than the previous installment, I think these chapters are still enjoyable to read and follow along with the overall atmosphere of the Batman franchise. That being said, there is one thing that truly separates this rendition of the Dark Knight from others is that this really isn’t the Dark Knight that we’ve been following for years. With Bruce Wayne still down for the count from Volume 1 of the series, it is up to Jean-Paul Valley (Azrael) to defend the streets of Gotham, a pivotal difference which may bring about more bad than good.
|Book Name||Batman: Knightfall Volume 2: Knightquest|
|Edition Reviewed||Collected Edition (new)|
|Writer(s)||Chuck Dixon and Various|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
Batman: Knightfall Volume 2: Knightquest collects Detective Comics #667-#675, Batman #501-508, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #19-28, Catwoman #6-7 and Robin #7!
Batman: Knightfall Volume 2: Knightquest Review
While the art style stays relatively the same from the first installment, I do have to say that I believe the character designs and settings seemed like they were done a little bit better. Overall though, I do think the art remained high quality and is definitely good for any bigger art fanatics out there. It keeps that same, classic comic book look and have a lot of bold lines and contrasting colors that really make the pages and scenery pop right out at you.
A paraplegic Bruce Wayne does not seem like he is making some quick, miracle recovery anytime soon and it seems as though Jean-Paul Valley will remain Batman indefinitely. While devastating, Jean-Paul does remain an interesting replacement. Bold, and new but interesting. With a previously defined vigilante style and a warped sense of justice, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea given the current situation with Batman as well as the consistent crime that seems to target Gotham City. Fear not, though, Bruce Wayne fans, as we all know that not even a severed vertebrae can keep him from justice -but I’ll go into that later.
Now this comic can really be broken down into two parts. Knightquest: The Crusade really picks up directly where Knightfall Volume 1 left off with a newly crowned Batman patrolling the city. Without Bane to torment the streets, many of the fight scenes we encounter in this chapter will be generic, run of the mill criminals. That’s not to say some fan-favorites like the Joker and Mr. Freeze won’t make an appearance though.
It doesn’t take long for readers to realize that Gotham’s real problem is going to end up being this new Batman and not the unleashed vigilantes. Jean-Paul becomes increasingly troubled as the Batman lifestyle and his ‘religious’ history drives him closer to the edge. Emotionally unstable and increasingly violent, Jean-Paul goes overboard with several criminals, even to the point where he began horrifying the current Robin, Tim Drake. Aggressively attacking common thieves with unnecessary force and dangerous weapons really puts a dent on “The Batman’s” image as well as strain the pretty significant and long held relationships that have been established throughout the series. Robin is eventually driven away and even the Police Commissioner Gordon begins to distrust his vigilante friend as even he is able to make the connection that the man behind the mask has changed.
I have to say that while this storyline was pretty predictable, I was completely engrossed as watching Valley fall into madness. It’s like, you know that something is definitely going to go wrong and it’s only a matter of time. It just becomes increasingly frustrating as you watch Jean-Paul go against everything that Batman stands for. Watching Robin take off and him ultimately destroy his only good connection with the Gotham City Police Department, it just leaves you wondering just how for this is actually going to go and whether or not Bruce will be back in time.
Now, Azrael descends into madness and succumbs to violence, he decks out the traditional batsuit to fit his needs. Adding a bunch of unnecessary weapons, he becomes more lethal than ever. A literal change to Batman’s image (see spoiler conveniently right on the cover) is a clever depiction on the metaphorical image that Jean-Paul changed along the journey. These revamps are done several times, even further reflecting his conflicted mental state.
His whole decent into madness can’t be pinned directly to him or the stress of the job. His some-what complicated backstory explains that due to circumstances surrounding his childhood and family, he is cursed with visions that are doing most of the pushing. I won’t go into any huge spoilers because I think this storyline unfolds very nicely, but let’s just say that Jean-Paul was probably not the greatest replacement for Batman. When you think back it is a bit baffling why Bruce chose Azrael over Dick Grayson. That also being said, as I criticized in Volume 1 already, where is Dick Grayson? You would think that he would intervene at some point considering all of this. I imagine that news of Batman himself tormenting the city might send some red flags his way. Unfortunately, never does make his way into the picture and we are left to focus on the interactions Azrael has with many of the villains he encounters.
I have to say though, aside from the whole Nightwing thing, the plot of this installment was fairly well done and at time over the top. I think Dixon does a great job finding a way to get his characters to depict certain mental states in general but it quickly becomes quite boring. However, he really grasped the organic, downward spiral of Jean-Paul. Some more intimate, villain encounters with Catwoman and The Joker serve as proof of how much he really strayed from the original image of Batman and the weird relationships he has with characters throughout the series. Seeing how we all know Batman as some distant and cold character, I think it is kind of nice to know that people would recognize when his image was changed. These awesome action scenes and enticing plot lay out some nice groundwork for the final installment of the trilogy.
Knightquest: The Search brings us right back to Bruce Wayne himself. As a paraplegic Wayne certainly is a lot more limited compared to the legacy he left behind. That doesn’t mean that he is just going to sit back for the rest of his life, though.
Bruce and Alfred our out on their own adventure searching for Robin’s father as well as the physical therapist who Bruce has taken a fancy too. This new adventure would take them to England. While the somewhat bland and short battle does result in Bruce’s spine being healed, it ends with him being forced to put his love in a mental institution and leave Alfred in England while he goes back alone to Gotham with the intentions of returning to crime fighting.
Poor Bruce just really can’t catch a break. Considering all of the events of Volume 1, I am not really surprised by this outcome although part of me wishes that Alfred would at least be joining him on the ride back. While I found the general plot of this saga lacking, I think this arc was less about the actually writing and more of Bruce and finding a simple way to loop him back in.
While I did enjoy Volume 1 a lot better than Knightquest, I would still give this installment a 3.8/5. The excellent fight scenes as well as that traditional comic book art made reading enjoyable but once again it is extremely long and can put a strain on a reader who reads through intensely. That classic dark and depressive atmosphere of the plot with a whole new Batman certainly lead to some interesting developments that I look forward to reviewing for Volume 3. I think this comic may be more enjoyable for long time fans versus newer readers, it is still a comic I would nonetheless recommend.