Now that we know Chip Zdarsky is taking over the main Batman series, Batman: The Knight should be a must-read for in-canon backstory. Another writer might ignore things, but now it’s likely any new characters introduced in this series may pop up in the current timeline. Case in point, Batman: The Knight #4, which features a major development in Bruce Wayne’s social life.
Zdarsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico open the latest issue on Bruce Wayne attempting to get Master Kirigi to train him. Ducard gave Bruce this master fighter’s name as he’s one of the best at training fighters. Unfortunately for Bruce, it’s not easy to get inside and he faces daily beatings with no answer as to whether he’ll make it. Call it a test of his resolve. Soon though, he makes it inside and the training begins.
If there’s one thing this issue does particularly well, it’s that it sets up the fact that Bruce may think he’s a loner hellbent on perfecting himself, but he also works well with others. One can see this young version of Bruce realizing through trials and practice that having a sidekick, or someone watching your back at the very least, is a huge benefit.
Batman: The Knight #4 sets up new characters in ways that help show how Bruce will be molded into Batman, or how Bruce will have future enemies to vanquish. It allows writers like Zdarsky to layer new details into Bruce’s past to enrich the character, and also set up future stories. It’s too early to know if Master Kirigi will pop up in some way in future stories, but it’s cool to note these characters and details knowing they could play a role later.
Di Giandomenico draws a heck of an issue too with much of it focused on fight scenes. There’s great fight choreography and plenty here for the montage fanatic. Bruce is younger here, but doesn’t come off as a child. There’s a hardness in his general facial expressions that convey the deep hurt he’s holding onto from the death of his parents. Ivan Plascencia colors the issue, adding good depth between backgrounds and characters in foregrounds as well as nice touches in lighting.
The size of the characters is also well done. Later on in this issue, a mysterious group shows up to be trained and one of them is much taller and bigger than Bruce. When they fight, you never lose sight of the fact that Bruce is outmatched in size regardless of the enemy’s ferocity.
Does the general feel of the story play out in an expected way, though? More or less, you can anticipate how Bruce will react, or how he’ll let his guard down. The issue lacks big surprises and big splashy moments in a way that will likely make it an even better reading experience when collected.
Another element that’s interesting to see is how Bruce isn’t as guarded as he is when we see him as an adult. He’s smart and trying to keep a low profile, but he’s also capable of opening up to his new friend in ways you don’t often see. One can imagine he tightens that up over time due to losing friends or being backstabbed–hell, it may end up happening in this very series–and it’s interesting to see his humanity in a different way here.
Batman: The Knight #4 is another good issue in a fascinating exploration of Bruce Wayne prior to becoming the greatest detective, and some might say fighter, in all of comics. Even more importantly, with Zdarsky taking over full time on the main series it’s even more exciting to read Batman: The Knight knowing everything is important.
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