Now, after making it through the hundreds of pages from Volumes 1 and Volume 2, I was apprehensive to go ahead with volume 3 but excited to finally bring Knightfall to a close in Batman: Knightfall Volume 3: KnightsEnd. Chuck Dixon made the previous two volumes an emotional rollercoaster of sorts, and he left a lot of loose ends to tie up by the end of Volume 3. As the final installment of an epic trilogy, readers really just knew that there was a lot of cool stuff to look forward to but still very long. Conversely, this installment also had a lot of expectations to meet from devoted fans.
Batman: Knightfall Volume 3: KnightsEnd Collects Batman issues #509 to 514, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #29 to 34, Detective Comics #676 to 681, Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight #62 and 63, Robin #8 to 13 and Catwoman #12 and 13.
The new edition also collects Batman: Prodigal which will be reviewed separately.
|Book Name||Batman: Knightfall Volume 3: Knightsend|
|Edition Reviewed||Collected Edition (new)|
|Writer(s)||Chuck Dixon and Various|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 3: KnightsEnd Review
Just as I stated in the previous installments, the design is certainly something any comic book lover with enjoy. Bold lines and intensely contrasting colors make reading easy on the eyes and enjoyable. Now, I think this volume specifically had a lot of complex scenes in them. Illustrating beautiful fight scenes and conveying strong emotions was a definite strong talent of the artists. While I will say that the cover art has again provided a bit of a spoiler, anyone following the series would be able to get just where this all was going.
Now, these chapters focus heavily on Bruce Wayne and Jean-Paul Valley (Azrael) and the battle for the right to wear the Batman costume, we all know who should have it but the two need to sort it out. To limit the amount of confusion, I will avoid addressing either of them as Batman for this review. That of course means after remaining unmasked for a majority of the entire comic book thus far, Bruce Wayne will be back an action!
Upon returning, he immediately meets with Robin who convinces him that Jean-Paul is not meant for the title of Batman, this makes Batman look a little less authoritative in my eyes as he was adamant Azrael was “the one”. He returns to the Batcave where he requests Jean-Paul to step down where he is met with threats against his life. Weighing his options, he desires to consult Lady Shiva, a deadly assassin to train him to regain his title.
Bruce Wayne is healed and ready to take on Jean-Paul after he has tarnished the name of the Batman and poses a threat to the city of Gotham. His miraculous recovery of paraplegia (not a great bit of storytelling) comes with the more realistic reality that he didn’t magically gain all of his powers back with his fixed spine. Becoming Batman is going to take a lot of work -even for Bruce. He goes to Lady Shiva for guidance. A key difference between Lady Shiva and himself is that Lady Shiva isn’t against killing. After refusing to practice a lethal move and even failing to kill an opponent he defeated, Lady Shiva continues to push him and even has him dawn the Mask of Tengu. For this, I have to say props to Bruce Wayne and his moral code. After everything that had gone on in this comic alone (from a broken back to the insanity of his crush), he is pretty mentally strong for not even considering killing people just yet.
I found this part of the plot line to be a lot of pointless meandering, stretching out an already stretched plot. One of the downfalls of Knightfall is its sheet length because of events like this which are unnecessary considering how long the reader will have already spent on this journey already.
Bruce isn’t the only one who is struggling at this point, though. Jean-Paul is in a state that is continuing to escalate out of control since the previous chapters. He is haunted by visions that taunt him and call him out as a failure. He is becoming an increasingly depressing character where you just have to feel sorry for the guy…a bit. There even comes to a point where he confronts criminals that worked for the guy that killed his father. After shooting them up and subsequently setting an entire warehouse on fire with a flamethrower, it doesn’t feel like it can go any more extreme than here -but don’t worry, it does. He continues into the night with one thing in mind -getting revenge on Lehah, the man that killed his father. Luckily, Robin continues to trail him and record his strange behavior and is hoping to curb anything too crazy, Tim Drake was not written very well in Knightfall in my opinion which is a shame.
Bruce Wayne is having trouble recovering to full fight mode (and is one butler short). Robin is left to helplessly watch his city crumble after trying to pick up where his beloved mentor got crippled and suddenly came back . And finally, Jean-Paul is just diving deeper and deeper into a madness he can’t control. This was all very depressing and I will say the fight scenes become a lot less “cool” when you’re left focusing on the depressing mechanisms that are really at hand. This entire beginning left me in a giant pity party where there was just so much depressing stuff going on I was longing for plot to get to fixing things.
Not all is hopeless though as Dick Grayson (hallelujah) finally makes an entrance after being pretty absent in the earlier volumes. Bruce gets him and Robin up to date with everything that has gone on so far and even the “system” which is pretty much the explanation for Jean-Paul’s strange behaviors. Above all I am happy that Dick jokingly addresses the question I was asking myself since Bane. Why didn’t he just ask Nightwing to be the new Batman? I get that it is a lot to ask but it isn’t like Nightwing doesn’t come with virtually parallel problems! I mean, Grayson seemed to take it better than I probably would have expected, but I mean, his mentor did just go through an emotional rollercoaster of events so I don’t think we needed to add intergroup drama to the story. It is up to Nightwing and Robin to continue to trail Jean-Paul and to report all findings to Bruce so that he can carry on messing around with Lady Shiva’s silly tasks.
As Jean-Paul continues to go crazy -even slicing a man’s ear in half, Bruce Wayne is making some nice strides in his recovery and even reentered the fighting field! With the Mask of Tengu, he managed to beat up some bad guys the good old-fashioned way. While it isn’t exactly the Batman I was used to, it was nice to see him at least fighting again. That being said, I think by this point in the book the more traditional action scenes begin to pick back up versus the weirdly intense fights Jean-Paul has been putting on. There is even a nice dramatic, and poetic moment where Bruce climbs to the top of Wayne Tower where he reminisces about the first time he too that iconic jump from the building. Still this moment just acts as a little bit of a teaser for reader who have been waiting hundreds of pages just to see Bruce take his rightful place as Batman again.
As Knightfall Volume 3: KnightsEnd goes on, Bruce continues to take on Lady Shiva’s tests until he finally used the lethal move she taught him to take a life. With Nightwing and Robin secretly watching, she tells him he is finally worth a fight with her. This is certainly a scene that made my jaw dropped as it seems Bruce had broken a solemn vow he had managed to maintain up until this point.
Just as Nightwing began to lecture and flip out at him, the man came to. Bruce had merely knocked him unconscious and now found that he was back to his peak physical health. He was no longer in need of Shiva’s tests and guidance. This was also a pivotal moment for readers where the story truly climaxed and we knew we were going to get our Batman back!
He comes back just in the nick of time for truly one of the most epic battles in the Batman franchise. As Bruce returns to the Batcave to retrieve the original Batman costume, he joins Nightwing and Robin in tracking Jean-Paul to Selkirk’s penthouse. By sheer coincidence, Catwoman happens to be chasing the same guy over a neural device to help paraplegic people walk again (which is a super sweet gesture). Chaos ensures and there is a lot to follow. A lot of clever tricks and explosions lead to the ultimate fight that have readers on their toes. To this day, it remains one of my favorite superhero fights ever, and I have to say the excellent writing and action was perfectly illustrated making it enjoyable and easy to follow (although I found myself taking doubletakes because there were so many details to take notice to).
Now this there is one additional fight that ultimately decides the fate of Batman. For that I won’t give any major spoilers, but know that there is a lot of metaphor and symbolism involves as the epic fight between Batman and Batman presses on.
I have to go ahead and give volume 3 a 3.5/5. Although it started out with a slightly different atmosphere than I would expect from the Batman comics, it had an epic finish and great plot that kept in on edge the entire time. Amazing fight scenes and lots of great characters make for an amazing installment that is a must read for any fans. However, the sheet length and so many fragmented plot lines do let it down as it did with Volume 2. Azrael isn’t the most fun character to read at the best of times and reading a volume of this size with him as the main character is hard work. Still, Knightfall as a series arc should be considered a must read for any Batman fan.
Batman: Knightfall Volume 3: KnightsEnd Gallery