There are two huge draws to the current state of Batman that keep a lot of readers coming back issue after issue. The first is the overall quality of the book: Tom King’s writing is consistently strong, and the rotating cadre of artists on the book are all stellar in their own right. While considering the work of an artist to be good or bad is purely objective, it’s pretty undeniable that this series is willing to takes risks. Whether those risks work or not is completely debatable, of course, and Batman #67 is a perfect example.
When it comes to this issue, you mileage may vary depending on how invested you’ve been in the whole “Knightmare” arc of seemingly standalone stories. Personally, most of them have hit more than they have missed, but Batman #67 sidles somewhere in between. It’s not a complete miss by any stretch of the imagination, just more of a graze. It’s hard to discuss specifically why this issue wasn’t impactful as the previous chapters of “Knightmare” without getting into spoiler territory, but broadly speaking, the story reiterates a struggle Bruce Wayne has with a particular villain we're all too familiar with. It’s a dynamic that has been so deeply explored by some of the greatest comic book creators who have ever put words and pictures to panels, so it’s easy to read this issue and wonder why we needed the refresher.
But that’s the thing. King, with the help of artists Lee Weeks and Jorge Fornes in this issue, isn't necessarily trying to explore new territory. Instead, his stories seem to be more focused on homogenizing the Dark Knight’s relationship with various members of his rogues gallery as well as his rampant, undiagnosed mental health disorders. Batman #67 might be the thinnest and most well-worn example of these sort of introspective moments, but it’s too well put together and beautifully executed in terms of visuals to write it off as bad.
The storytelling, as slim as it is, is conveyed without words for the bulk of the issue. The general plot set up is Batman interrupts a murder and chases the suspect across rooftops and through alleyways, and… that’s about it. At least on a macro level. This might not be for everyone, but I’m a huge sucker for comics which rely solely on the visual storytelling aspect of the medium. If a writer and artist can convey their point without the use of a single word, it's extremely impressive. The only problem here is that when there are words on the page beyond sound effects, it spells out the lesson of the issue rather bluntly, undermining the rest of the issue.
Pound for pound, King's Batman run has been fantastic, especially when he's working with amazing talent like Weeks and Fornes. But this issue is definitely one of the weaker entries as of late, at least from a storytelling perspective, though that tune may change down the line when I revisit this arc as a collection. It can be hard to see the bigger picture when the pieces are doled out over the course of weeks and months, and ultimately, Batman #67 feels like a sliver of something so much larger, unable to stand fully on its own..