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Batman: Knight and Squire Paperback – July 5, 2011
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I'm glad I did. Not only does my mother love it, to the point where she accompanied me on my last weekly jaunt to the comics shop so that she could find other comics she likes, but I enjoyed it immensely as well. The third issue in particular I found to be a high point. Yes, this is very, very British (some stereotyped I should imagine, some not), but I actually think it's a great take on the Batman, Inc. concept. This isn't Batman with a slightly different costume in a different country. This is someone who is his own character with his own sidekick who just happens to operate in a manner similar to Batman. Knight is only "the British Batman" in the same way that Midnighter is "the gay Batman." It's convenient shorthand, but the characters really stand on their own.
The only negative I have about this trade is that there currently isn't really anything else with these characters. And that makes me (and my mother) sad. But we'll both be rereading this for a long time, so we're good for now.
The country is England, and the book is Knight and Squire. Grant Morrison brought back the Batmen Of Other Lands club in his R.I.P. arc, and K&S were the breakout stars. Paul Cornell, who writes for Doctor Who, and was nominated for numerous awards after his Captain Britain title was canceled at Marvel, was handed the job of expanding the brief glimpse of Superhero Britain that Grant gave us, and he has run with it.
He plays England the way most Americans think of it - a strange land steeped in magic, strange accents, and tea. The entire first issue takes place in a magical pub where the heroes and villains meet to drink and schmooze, protected from attacking each other by a magical spell. The spell, of course, wears off. In three pages he introduces more new characters than the average title does in a year of Wednesdays.
The trade paperback is a perfect closed system, and can be read without any knowledge of the character at all - "He's the Batman of England" - that's all you need.
There are dead monarchs, a British Joker, cultural references to British culture so arcane and obscure they require explaining in the back (Two-Ton Ted From Teddington? Really?) and an unlikely hero who gets it in the rear entrance.
There desperately needs to be more of this kind of thing. Buying this will speed said process on.
This series actually is not even focused on Knight and Squire but more on showcasing Cornell's concept of a British superhuman community where no one really gets hurt and heroes and villains alike get together for pint afterwards. This peace is upset when a violent American villain decides to jump in.
Continuity-wise it's a bit of a mess. For example how could Batman have inspired the Knight's father when Batman was only around for the ever-shifting '10 years'. But with DC's latest reboot it's a moot point.
In the amusing text pieces Cornell claims to have created 130 new characters for this series, most of them have no lines and are only named in the text. there's some cute ideas in there including a naked woman with the name Birthday Girl, an iambic pentameter-spouting reincarnation of Richard III and the Knight's American butler Hank. Cornell wonders if he's set a record for new characters but I would say if nameless, silent costumed extras count then Alan Moore's Top Ten series easily has him beat.
There's a lot in here and Cornell really doesn't have much time to go deeply into any of the characters. Even the Knight and Squire are little more than bit players in some stories. For me that was a problem, I felt like I was reading an extended trailer for a Knight and Squire universe rather than a coherent story.
Broxton's art is competent enough but some sequences like the Knight's motorcycle battle look rushed and crude.
Overall it's a fun read but there's just not enough space to fit in everything Cornell was trying to do.
A British version of Batman is at once an accurate and yet extremely inadequate description of this comic. Knight and Squire operate similarly to Batman and Robin, but are uniquely developed characters in their own right (beyond just having a different country of origin). Squire, in particular, has an interesting "power" and is seems to be the center of the story, slightly more so than Knight. The British Joker, inspired by his namesake but too tasteful to actually commit crimes, is also a highlight.
The locale does play an important part in this series however. Cornell's Britain is the third main character, so to speak. It is almost too fully realized, with the explanations of how things work in Knight's world and the ridiculous number of supporting characters detracting a bit from our "dynamic duo." The six issues weren't enough to hold everything he wanted to include, and he tried too hard to fit it all.
Overall Knight and Squire would've been better off as an ongoing, but what is here is good and is worth taking a chance on simply for how it revels in being different from the norm.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Knight first appeared in 1951 as “The Batman of England.” This six-issue series brings back Knight for new adventures in England – including a run-in with a group of evil... Read morePublished 13 months ago by The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson
A few pages in and you might wonder why you bought a Batman trade that featured English accents, the "UK-based" Batman team, and a setting with the "villains" as... Read morePublished 13 months ago by R. H.