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‘Batman: Killing Time’ HC (review)

Written by Tom King
Art by David Marquez
Published by DC Comics

 

It’s long been held that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight owes a lot, particularly its opening sequence, to Michael Mann’s Heat Batman: Killing Time owes a lot to classics of the heist genre. Yet it strives for to use the weirdness of Batman’s rogues gallery to bring a different tone to this type of story. The story threatens to fall apart under the weight of gimmicky storytelling, but it has enough moments to ultimately recommend it.

The first chapter of Killing Time centers on a heist.

Killer Croc, who is probably the least subtle bank robber in Gotham, has Batman’s attention. Meanwhile, Catwoman and the Riddler are using the distraction to steal a very previous, highly valued MacGuffin.  Initially aligned with the Penguin, the Riddler uses the opportunity to double cross him and leave a very violent riddle behind.

This first chapter lays out the gimmick of jumping back and forth to different events, during various times in the story.  A lot of times this style of storytelling can serve to reveal different points of view, it can obscure the motives of various characters, it can create twists that surprises the reader.

Unfortunately, Killing Time is often too frenetic. It never allows the story to settle too long in one moment. David Marquez’s art is full of great moments, but the story never allows the reader to enjoy the ride.

In further chapters, we see just about every villain in Batman’s Rogue Gallery. But the one that makes the biggest contribution is Clock King. It’s fair to say that Killing Time uses Clock King to maximum effect. I dare say this might be the best story featuring Clock King.

If Killing Time is the ultimate heist story featuring Batman, then Clock King is Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro’s role in Heat).

Killing Time even gives us a Batman/Clock King scene that felt like the diner scene in Heat. Clock King is the cool mastermind and he has every moment figured out. If any one character stands out, its Clock King.

In later chapters the story expands in less than ideal ways. The MacGuffin in this story is the Eye of God, and some of the frequent time jumps involve the history of the Eye of God. David Marquez’s detailed work does not stop this from feeling like a drag on the story. When we get to what the Eye of God actually does, it just feels like a sly joke on the reader.

A superhero comic that features “The Eye Of God’ would seem important. It plays with our expectations and it’s a nice wink at the reader. However, dedicating so many pages to an ultimately useless trinket felt too clever by half.

Ultimately, Batman: Killing Time spends too much energy taking the reader through different scenes set in the timeline of the story. It’s full of short scenes with little clues, but we never get to relax and really enjoy the story. It’s attempting to manufacture tension all through out, and it has moments. It’s just too in love with its clever storytelling mode.

It skims the surface, but unfortunately, never gets too deep.

 

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