This week begins the three-chapter story arc – Fiend of the Masquerade Festival. Following the fantastic Hangman saga, the first chapter of the masquerade entry feels mediocre at best. The story is full of more unnecessary twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan film. My time with this series continues to reveal the inconsistent nature of Kuwata’s writing. I am confident that this section of his work will be viewed as a forgettable flop caught between the pages of numerous masterworks.
The story opens with the dynamic duo responding to a report that a criminal going by the name of Kelson has escaped from the State Penitentiary. Furthermore, it is believed that Kelson is hiding in the midst of a crowd gathered for a masquerade festival that happens to be passing through Gotham. Batman and Robin have come to the aid of the festival owner to offer assistance in capturing the fiendish Kelson.
Hold on to your utility belts Bat-fans because this is where our story takes a turn for the worse. The remaining pages of this book are filled with red herring characters that lack development of any kind. Even when viewed through the lens of the ’66 television show, this segment feels as though it was written by a six year old with a knack for theatrics. The chapter wraps up with the dynamic duo riding mechanical dinosaurs in pursuit of an unknown assailant. Needless to say, this sequence easily makes my “top five things I would never see in a Batman book” list. Unless Kuwata has a big reveal established for the final two sections of the book, this is going to be a very tough read.
The pages of this book are a testament to the fact that even the Dark Knight is not invulnerable to being placed in the most ridiculous situations. Jiro Kuwata is a wonderful writer and artist; however, in this current effort he has failed miserably. The beauty of his short form style is that even though this story will be easily forgotten, it is part of a much larger narrative that is rich with well-developed content. Let’s just hope that this story arc passes like a bad storm and serves only as a baseline of just how bad things can really get.