Story-Arc: Cold Days.
Writer(s): Tom King.
Illustrator(s): Lee Weeks, Matt Wagner & Tony S. Daniel, Mark Buckingham & Andrew Pepoy.
Inker(s): Tony S. Daniel & Danny Miki.
Colourist(s): Elizabeth Breitweiser& Tomeu Morey.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Paperback (Read in Single Issues).
Release Date: December 24th 2018.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
Previously on DC Universe Rebirth’s Batman:
Batman (Vol. 1) I Am Gotham by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 1.5.) Night of the Monster Men by Steve Orlando
Batman (Vol. 2) I Am Suicide by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 3) I Am Bane by Tom King
Batman/The Flash (Vol. 3.5) The Button by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 4) The War of Jokes and Riddles by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 5) Rules of Engagement by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 6) Bride or Burglar by Tom King
Batman (Vol. 7) The Wedding by Tom King
With every volume released, Tom King continues to show his visionary artistic story-telling talents that gradually rely heavily on artwork rather words to tell a compelling story. His particular style draws a lot of critical attention nowadays, but with each volume, he continues to prove that there is plenty of room for his rendition of the iconic hero’s personality, rogue gallery and lore. Although the ending of the previous volume left a sour taste in many fan’s mouths, it was only a matter of time before he came back strong to build upon the foundation he set and explore the one thing that has always set the difference between Batman and the rest of the heroes in the DC universe: his emotions. Complex and intangible, Bruce Wayne has always had a subtle and fragile side to him, heavily guarded with bullet-proof vests and impenetrable armour. It’s now time for him to break free and embrace his emotions.
What is Batman: Cold Days about? Collecting issues #51-57, this 8th volume of Tom King’s canonical Dark Knight run contains three distinct story arcs. First, teaming up with Lee Weeks to deliver a stunning and beautiful three-issue story, Cold Days explores the aftermath of the tragic ending in Batman: The Wedding. Tom King thus puts the billionaire playboy on jury duty on a Mr. Freeze court case involving the mysterious murder of three women. Followed with a one-issue story, The Better Man, with the help of artist Matt Wagner, Tom King explores the complex relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, the original dynamic duo, by brilliantly mirroring two narrative, one where Bruce Wayne helps Dick Grayson following the devastating incident revolving around the latter’s parents, and the other with Dick Grayson helping Bruce Wayne deal with his emotions following the unfortunate incident at the altar. Finally, Beasts of Burden is a three-issue story, with the assistance of artist Tony S. Daniel, that continues to put Dick Grayson (Nightwing) at the heart of events as a professional and deadly Russian villain throws a curveball at Batman and launches him on a furious hunt for vengeance.
The first story arc, Cold Days, was an unexpected, introspective and beautiful surprise. With Elizabeth Breitweiser’s unique colouring in a hue that elevates Lee Weeks exquisite art style, the story serves as an exploration of Batman’s mythos, how he is perceived by citizens and if this perception rhymes with Gotham’s reality. The fact that Bruce Wayne is still dwelling in the nerve-wracking aftermath of the previous volume’s events, this story was the perfect follow-up to look at what it is like for the world’s greatest detective to finally know what happiness is all about and then having it stripped away in the blink of an eye.
The second story arc, The Better Man, is a quick, efficient and powerful look at the pseudo-father-son-relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Matt Wagner’s artwork, however, seemed like a hair in a soup as it isn’t of the same caliber as Lee Weeks’ in the previous story arc or Tony S. Daniel’s in the following story arc. The story remains top-notch in giving us a tear-inducing and heart-warming look at the two heroes intricate bond.
The final story arc, Beasts of Burden, is a stunning and exquisite story that is exponentially beautified by Tony S. Daniel’s artistic talents as it brings to life one of the slickest and most intense hunt in Batman’s vigilante career. With the return of non-glossy paper, his artwork shines with an incredible aura, thanks not only to Tomeu Morey’s colouring, but also to Tom King’s incredibly minimalist writing that particularly sums up to grunts and persistent repetition. The grunts hold however an emotional significance in this story in particular and convey the anger that fuels the Dark Knight. Tom King also takes this opportunity to develop a villain that was never truly taken seriously and gives us a beautiful look at him through incredible nine-panel grids and full-blown splash pages.
With each of these stories, Tom King proves that there’s much more to Batman than brooding and heavily gazing at thugs as he beats them effortlessly—although there’s plenty of that. His exploration of the Dark Knight’s emotions with little words is bewildering and his visionary take of the character continues to grow in the right direction with original ideas that focuses on the psychology of individuals and their intimate, personal growth through adversity.
Batman: Cold Days is an impressive collection of dazzling stories that deals with Bruce Wayne’s emotional struggles as he lingers in despair following back-to-back tragedies.