Recently, I checked out Knightfall Volume 1, the classic story where Bane broke Batman’s back and Jean-Paul Valley became the new Batman. Though I’m not a huge fan of Cyber-90s-religious-fanatic Batman, I decided to keep reading to see where the story would go. Let’s dive into Knightfall Volume 2: Knightquest.
Knightquest focuses on Jean-Paul Valley’s adventures as Gotham’s new Dark Knight. Jean-Paul, secretly conditioned since childhood to fight as an “avenging angel” assassin for the secret former-Crusader Order of St. Dumas, fights against both the villains of Gotham City and his personal demons. Because of his conditioning, a method dubbed “The System,” Jean-Paul realizes that he can’t remember entire segments of his life and wonders if he does indeed truly know himself. Through the course of his adventures Jean-Paul alienates Batman’s allies including Robin (Tim Drake), Catwoman, and even Comissioner Gordon. Does this new Batman have what it takes to be the hero Gotham needs?
This collection of comics is just…subpar. Honestly, there’s not much I can say in its favor. Jean-Paul Valley is just unlikable: he spends most of his time either whining about his past or discussing how he needs to teach villains a lesson in a way Bruce Wayne never could. His personality also jumps around a lot: he goes from choking Robin to suddenly coping with him skulking around the Batcave like its no big deal a few issues later. Part of the problem is there are multiple writers across the titles comprising this volume; as a result, Jean-Paul’s personality fluctuates more wildly than it probably should.
Art-wise, the comic is just like its predecessor. I think the art style grew on me a little more this time around, but its still not amazing in my opinion. Probably the best aspect is the coloring, which does wonders for exploring the shadows of Gotham while picking out key details like the red eyes of the new Batman suit. Other than that, there isn’t much to praise: the background characters lack variation, the fight scenes are intially interesting before devolving into the same barrages of bat-shuriken fire, and the enemy designs are as banal as the foes themselves (one can only take so many gunslingers).
That’s not to say there aren’t positive aspects of this work. Despite the multiple creators and numerous titles spanning the crossover the continuity holds together. There were few times when I questioned the order of events or wondered how it was possible for Batman to move from Point A in Comic 1 to Point Z in comic 26. Similarly, the artwork between issues flowed naturally despite different teams of artists on the various titles. Another thing I liked was a two-part story concerning the relationship between Clayface-3 and Lady Clayface that was heartwarming and actually made me sympathize with these villains (honestly, I liked them a whole lot more than Jean-Paul and almost wished one of them would take him out).
Overall, Knightfall Volume 2: Knightquest really isn’t anything special. Jean-Paul Valley is unlikable and lacks consistent characterization, the enemies he faces are almost unflaggingly boring, and the art isn’t anything special. It’s not unredeemibly awful, but it’s got so few positive qualities that I suggest giving almost any other comic a look instead. I’d really advise you to avoid reading this collection unless you think Batman was meant to be a whiny religious nutcase who has machine-gun shuriken cannons on his arms.
-good side story featuring Clayface-3 and Lady Clayface
-coloring is well done
-Jean-Paul Valley is unlikable and his characterization is inconsistent
-enemies are dull
-artwork isn’t great
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