The penultimate issue of Batman: Killing Time is here and multiple plans are coming together nicely. The series has been an expert example of pace and structure through time, but there’s also an ultimate mystery that’s gone on for thousands of years. Plus, Riddler is trying to two-time a vengeful Penguin, and Catwoman just wants her dough. It’s a series that looks as slick as it is smart.
Batman: Killing Time #5 opens with a slow yet intense series of pages detailing every minute of an epic battle. The first five pages go into incredible detail via captions of the horrible murder and/or death of seemingly random villains. Soon, we get enough detail to register they work for Penguin, or other high caliber supervillains. More importantly, writer Tom King captures the gruesome nature of death and in many cases, the arbitrary nature of life lost. Even though most of the characters who die are nondescript, King makes you feel for them as if they were truly alive. It’s an incredible opening aided by the fact that the reader has little understanding of what this battle even is since the events are transpiring in the future.
The next scene picks up where we left off eight and a half hours earlier after Batman: Killing Time #4 with Riddler continuing his seemingly random but perfectly planned plan. Batman is rushing to get to the McGuffin with The Help — a new villain with ties to Ra’s Al Ghul — sitting behind him. Meanwhile, events continue over a thousand years into the past and Penguin’s revenge plan carries on.
David Marquez draws yet another great issue that’s detailed and exemplary at pace. Make no mistake, the idea of how this issue starts and is structured is great, but Marquez makes you believe these faceless villains lived full lives. Meanwhile, Batman moves through the narrative like a force of nature. He’s laser-focused and still trying to catch up to Catwoman and Riddler since the first issue. That culminates in an exciting rush to possibly save Catwoman and stop the United States government from doing something stupid.
Alejandro Sanchez increases the tension in the issue thanks to warm oranges to convey sunrise. Those oranges enhance the violence in the opening and the immediacy in the closing scenes too.
The use of language in this issue is also intriguing, with lots of swear words said via symbols that make it tricky to know what exactly is being said. In a case or two, it’s rather obvious, but it almost creates a Quentin Tarantino vibe as far as language. Characters are angry, but they’re using the swears to add color and flavor to the language.
Batman: Killing Time #5 surprises with another shining example of fantastic pace and timing. The opening makes you feel for nondescript characters through details about everyday lives, all of which build up the impending conclusion when the series cuts back in time. As far as penultimate issues go, you’ll be on the edge of your seat for every second of Batman: Killing Time.
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