Batman: Killing Time has been a unique comic experience. That’s because writer Tom King is heavily playing around with time and non-linear storytelling. From the first issue, every page opens with a caption detailing when that page is taking place. It could be a half-hour earlier or it could be hundreds of years earlier, which creates an experience where you’re constantly shifting gears to remember how each piece fits. It creates added interest as we try to piece together what the McGuffin is and why it matters so much to Batman and everyone else.
Batman: Killing Time #3 gives readers a decent idea of what is in the box which should help satiate impatient readers. The mysterious item is one of two major focuses as the story shifts to a much more dangerous scenario. That allows this issue to lean into action while it sets up a new character.
That scenario is due to a hired killer who is known as The Help. It’s a cute name that goes along with his cute look as a butler type, but he’s more dangerous than anyone on Earth. Through key scenes with Catwoman and Riddler utterly horrified The Help is after them, or seeing him hold his own with Batman in a fistfight, King has set up quite a foe to mix things up.
Through fight styles he observes Batman using rendered in David Marquez’s sharp art, it’s a great intro for a new villain. He also adds a new flavor to the proceedings as Penguin, Riddler, and Catwoman have history, but now we have this figure who is a complete question mark.
Aside from McGuffin and The Help, this issue is mostly about the utter fear Catwoman is going through. She’s trying to prevent Riddler from dying so she can get the score they’ve devoted everything to get.
Since The Help ends up stealing the show, the play with time is less obtrusive. Much of the narrative is focused on his attack and most of the events spring from it. It makes this installment feel like a side quest or pit stop from the larger narrative. That said, the cliffhanger suggests we might get some solid answers by the next issue.
Longtime Batman fans will appreciate the nods to the films. There’s at least one Tim Burton reference in this issue, for instance. Unrelated to some extent, but the very idea of Batman holding thousands of dollars of cash in his utility belt gave me a chuckle.
There’s a level of confidence in the way Batman: Killing Time reads, making for a unique superhero comic. In fact, the framework is so strong it’d probably work even if none of these characters were in costumes, but just regular people. For that reason, Batman: Killing Time ends up being one of the strongest written narratives in comics due to its structure and its strong detailed art.
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