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Tales of The Dark Multiverse: Knightfall #1 (DC Comics)
DC’s no stranger to alternate reality stories, but their latest series of “What If” tales doesn’t wear their “Elseworlds” moniker. Instead, they’re continuing to lean into the “Dark Multiverse” set up by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Metal with Tales of The Dark Multiverse, a new series of one shot stories highlighting different takes on famous DC stories. Right out of the gate, the series is focusing on one of the biggest DC tales at all: Knighfall, with Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins, and artist Javi Fernandez weaving this new spin on the tale.
While we all know that Bruce Wayne eventually took back the mantle of the Batman from Jean Paul Valley, Dark Multiverse presents the idea of Valley actually wining his battle with Bruce, and taking on the mantle of Batman. Thirty years after taking on the cowl, Jean Paul-Valley has turned Gotham into a place of peace, albeit one ruled by fear. Addicted to the venom that fueled the man he killed, Valley is determined to prove himself as the true heir to the Batman, even years after the fact. But all of that is soon going to come crashing down around him, as forces are working to defeat Jean Paul and return Bruce Wayne to his place as the Bat.
Of course Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins have a long history writing the Dark Knight, and they use that history really well with this special, which honestly features some of the darkest themes I’ve seen in a DC book yet. From the revelation that Jean Paul-Valley has become addicted to venom to the reveal behind what has actually happened to Bruce Wayne, there’s plenty of dark surprises to be found within these pages, and I won’t lie, I was pretty shocked by some of them. But for all the surprising moments, Snyder and Higgins make sure to not get so over the top that they neglect to tell a compelling story. At the end of the day, this is a really strong alternate take on a well known story that I wouldn’t mind spending a little more time with.
Javi Fernandez’s style is a mix between Rafael Albuquerque and Sean Murphy, and it works wonders with this book, bringing a great sense of mood and fluidity to the pages. Fernandez’s design for Valley’s Batman is a little different than what we’re used to, but it works when you consider just how long he’s been Batman, and how he’s changed over time. If this was a test to see if he could work with the other artist’s in DC’s stable, I’d say he passed with flying colors.
So far DC’s new spin on Elseworlds is off to a pretty fantastic start, and while it remains to be seen if the other specials will be as strong as this one, I gotta say, I’m pretty impressed with this. What could have been a simple cash grab is actually a pretty impressive little one-off tale, and I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a little more of this alternate reality. Here’s hoping that we get to see it.