There’s a palpable sense of fun to Tom King’s narrative for Issue Fifty Five of “Batman” which arguably must have helped carry this comic’s audience along after the script’ sense-shattering shenanigans involving the Phantom Pharaoh are disappointingly concluded before the reader has even reached the book’s half-way mark. Indeed, the ex-CIA officer’s apparent fixation in depicting Dick Grayson’s carefree attitude towards crime-fighting and his humorous baiting of Batman over a falling skills contest is debatably this book’s sole hook once the dynamic duo have all-too quickly overcome the King Tut replacement and his ancient, heavily-bandaged minions.
True, large swathes of this twenty-two page periodical are dedicated to Anatoli Knyazev’s infiltration of Gotham City and the Russian assassin’s acquirement of a “late-night expedited special” rifle from Tommy’s gun store. Yet despite KGBeast’s formidable presence, all of these somewhat stilted sequences debatably lack the sheer sense of energy with which the Eisner Award-winner imbues his scenes involving Nightwing, even following the terrorist’s apparent elimination of the Dark Knight’s original Boy Wonder; “This is Gordon! Get a damn medical team to the roof! Now! And I want cops in the –”
Just why “DC Comics” refused to let the “superstar writer” use Victor Buono’s character from the Sixties “Batman” television show was never made clear during the American author’s “spotlight panel at San Diego Comic-Con”, but what is abundantly unambigious is that his short-lived “creative solution” to “the somewhat obscure… Bat-villain” should probably have been given far more ‘screen time’ than his penmanship for this opening instalment to “Beasts Of Burden” permits. Certainly it must have frustrated the majority of the publication’s readers that King never provides any sort of insight as to just how “Fan Tom” was able to seemingly resurrect a number of malevolently-eyed decaying corpses or even explore just what the Ancient Egyptian ruler’s motives were when his crypt-born cadavers took to the metropolis’ streets…
Fortunately, Tony S. Daniel’s artwork does appear to effortlessly capture the perusing bibliophile’s eye with his wonderfully dynamic story boarding of the titular character, and contrasting ‘by-the-numbers’ framing of Knyazev’s pedantically-paced nine-panel per page cold-blooded machinations. In fact the “Batman: Battle For The Cowl” penciller undoubtedly adds an extra element to this book’s story-telling through his terrifically timed set-pieces, whether it be the Caped Crusader’s awesome-looking smackdown upon the Phantom Pharaoh or KGBeast’s coldly calculating murder of a hapless tenant who was just unlucky in his choice of apartment and it’s particular view of the Gotham night-time skyline.