With the release of Batman: Prelude To Knightfall back in September of 2018, DC began a nine-part collection of the Dark Knights biggest epic in celebration of its 25th anniversary. In this epic celebration we were treated with previously unreleased arcs and single issues that haven’t been seen in a trade paperback before other than the Humongous three set omnibus the year prior. DC did this a few years back with Superman’s ‘90’s epic, The Death Of Superman, by releasing a massive omnibus then a while later treating the fans of paperback with the smaller volumes with cool spine art, which Knightfall also receives with the broken bat-signal on the lower spine. I always loved omnibuses because I am a fan of complete collections, but the problem with most omnibuses is the size and weight can take the strain and hurt to read after a while, that’s why I went with the new trade Paperbacks (“TPB”) instead. In the first week of February 2019 we saw the ninth and final TPB: Batman: Troika. As the cover says “Batman is back…. With a vengeance!”
In the 90’s DC had a few big character defining stories, The Death Of Superman, Green Lantern Emerald Twilight, War Of The Gods, and Batman: Knightfall saga being the big hitters that made impactful changes to their respective characters. In three of these stories they would span those characters other spin-off series, Death Of Superman impacted all Superman related singles, War Of Gods hit just about everyone but focused mostly on Wonder Woman, and Knightfall Saga was in any spin-off remotely related to Batman and the Bat-Family. The reason I give this backstory is due to the fact that part 1 may be in a Robin comic and a part 2 in Detective Comics, so on so forth, this being the way it is can cause huge dips in quality of writing and art with different professionals handling different parts.
Luckily that isn’t the case with Batman: Troika. Throughout the whole Knightfall Saga, readers were very lucky with well known and well loved Batman writers on all titles. Troika collects Batman #515, Batman: Shadow Of The Bat #35, Detective Comics #682, Robin #14, Nightwing: Alfred’s Return #1, and Batman: The Vengeance Of Bane #2. With the writing and penciling falling upon Bat-veterans: Doug Moench, Alan Grant, Chuck Dixon, as the respective writers and Kelley Jones, Barry Kitson, Graham Nolan, Tom Grummett, Dick Giordano as the respective pencils. With all those names now named let’s carry on to the story of Troika.
In the first two pages we are introduced to the Troika in talks of the destruction of Gotham then all of America, kicking right back to where Batman:Prodigal ends we join Nightwing and Robin in the Batcave talking to Bruce Wayne who has just switched to his new darker black Bat-suit. The “Troika” story line only lasts four issues with Batman and Robin tracking down the Troika and defeating them while recovering the nuclear bomb from remaining member KGBeast. This arc is fun and fast paced with a simple plot that helps bring Bruce Wayne back in as the one and true Batman. While all of this happens in Gotham Nightwing goes on the hunt for Alfred Pennyworth whom quit as Bruce/Batman’s butler after Bruce refused to rest his back. This 50 page story is the standout in the TPB, with Nightwing traveling the world for Alfred and finding him in London. Throughout the issue we learn some of Alfred’s history, love life, and how much of a bad ass he can be. Ending on a bitter note for Alfred but bringing us back to statues quo as we see his return to the Bat-Family.
Finally ending the Knightfall Saga is the 64-page Vengeance Of Bane #2, where we find Bane out of shape and rotting away in Blackgate. After getting beat by KGBeast Bane finds himself in the Prisons Infirmary befriending Rat Catcher and Galvan, hatching a plan with the pair he gets himself relocated to the Rehab Block, with a room all to himself. Building himself up to the Bane he once was he breaks out to find the person responsible for drugging others with Venom. Having himself gotten out of the venomous grip of the Venom drug he runs into Batman while fighting Venom-enhanced thugs and the two team up defeating the thugs while Bane explains things to Batman. The ending of this issue was an amazing look into who and what Bane is and makes you excited for his future. After reading this it gave me a new attitude towards the villain, and makes it a must-read to end the huge Batman epic.
Reading any story that cycles through different series can be hard sometimes with the art feeling mismatched or like it doesn’t belong in such a serious story, but that’s not the case in this collection. All five artist are phenomenal in their own ways blending fantasy and reality making the weird seem like it could very well be true, while making sure the fights pop and the dialogue heavy panels seem interesting. An even bigger accomplishment is the way the art flows between issues with some such alike that you’d be surprised it was done by another artist. The colors are fantastic in each issue with the shadows helping set the mood and the bright colors bringing the pages to life, these are completed by Adrienne Roy throughout each issue.
Batman: Troika is a well done final volume in the celebration of the Knightfall Saga but this volume does feel unneeded. The “Troika” story line was only introduced in the previous TPB (Prodigal) and felt like it could’ve been a story based anywhere in the ‘90’s Batman history and not a concluding arc in the Knightfall Saga. The TPB only clocks in at 219 pages where the other TPB’s are between 250 and 400. With this it feels as if DC could have added more issues from other volumes in the earlier ones making them have a little more page count and cutting it from nine TPB’s to only eight.
Memorable Quote: “Hate to think I was taken out of action by a WHINER!”, Batman with those mad zingers!