Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Batman Knightfall Review - What if Knightfall never ended?
• DC Comics (Publisher)
It may be a hard pill to swallow but DC is a better publisher than Marvel. There are some rough patches like Brian Michael Bendis's take on Superman or the Batman Wedding that turned into a disaster but the line has consistent bright spots regardless of the missteps.
DC does seem to have more cool concepts that work and even better art. Elseworlds/What if Stories aren't new but the stories presented from the Dark Multiverse exist to tell a natural progression of an existing story rather than trying to reinvent the wheel or pushing some sort of social agenda.
A couple of years the publisher introduced the "New Age of Heroes line" in which DC blatantly ripped off and repurposed Marvel heroes. The line failed due to lack of promotion but the characters were generally fun and some even moved beyond simply being reskinned Marvel heroes.
Tales from the Dark Multiverse gives us another blatant rip-off. This time it's Marvel's What if? series. The rip even extends down to Tempus Fuginaut (Sideways) acting as a stand-in for Uatu, The Watcher. The difference is that DC flips the What If? comics format and production values into an actual event. Tales from the Dark Multiverse also clocks in at 53 pages and is presented in prestige format.
What happens if Jean-Paul Valley remained Batman after Knightfall? The fun of any What if? comic is seeing how a slight change in circumstance can alter the entire story, usually with horrifying results. I won't spoil any of the key events in the book but believe me when I say that things are messed up.
The general premise of this story is that Azrael remains Batman after Knightfall and turns Gotham into a police state. The story is very grim and keeps the tone of the Dark Knights Metal One-Shots. Azrael has never been my favorite character but I enjoyed seeing his evolution into "Saint Batman". This seems like the natural progression of the Knightfall event as well as Azrael's character.
The ideas are wild in some cases. Some characters have been killed off and others have been irreversibly changed. The book is very efficient and gives you the info you need without wasting your time on stuff that doesn't matter.
Another thing worth pointing out is the art direction. There are a lot of winks and nods to the original Knightfall storyline and the art style is right out of the '90s. There is a brief montage of the original event in the opening pages which catches the reader up to speed. Javier Fernandez manages to homage the original while keeping things fresh. All of the new designs are cool and feel like natural extensions of what already existed. There is also a creepy undercurrent to the story and the atmosphere conveys it perfectly.
I have the entire "Tales From the Dark Multiverse" event but hadn't had the chance to really get into it due to my day job. It was a pleasant surprise as the comic was excellent. The story, art, and premium format go a long way. The twists and turns are also genuinely surprising. If you haven't read Tales from the Dark Multiverse. I suggest you pick it up. Especially if you're a fan of the original Knightfall arc.