Shiny Shelf


Batman: King Tut’s Tomb

By Mark Clapham on 14 May 2010

‘King Tut’s Tomb’ collects three issues of ‘Batman: Confidential’, smartly re-inventing a villain from the 60s ‘Batman’ TV show as a far more serious threat. The story is well-served by the gorgeous pencils of José Luis García-López, and the collection is rounded out by three older examples of  ‘Batman’ stories featuring his art.

The King Tut story, ‘A New Dawn’, has a classic feel to it – there’s a contemporary sharpness to the storytelling and art, but also a classicism that evokes Bat-stories from the late 70s and early 80s. There are no links to current continuity, and the computers and phones look a few years out of date.

Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Wier have written a Batman story that would have worked at any time in the character’s history, a clean and simple crime story with nasty Egyptological twists. Their King Tut isn’t a harmless lunatic like the TV version, but instead a disturbed villain killing according to his personal obsession, in this case gruesome ancient Egyptian rituals. This incarnation of Tut fits well into the tradition of Bat-villains with deadly gimmicks.

The Sphinx-like riddles of King Tut cause Batman to initially suspect the Riddler, and in trying to stop Tut’s killing spree the two are forced to team-up, much to Batman’s annoyance and the Riddler’s delight. There’s been a trend in the last decade to team these two up, with Paul Dini in particular getting great mileage out of the Riddler becoming a legit detective, and the relationship works just as well here – Batman and the Riddler are both geniuses with a mind for puzzles, but their different temperaments and senses of responsibility make them a fun, tense pairing.

While it’s far from being the most complex story ever told – the mystery is straightforward – ‘A New Dawn’ has a lot going on tonally, switching from the sinister attacks of Tut to near slapstick with the Riddler. José Luis García-López’s fantastic pencils, inked by Kevin Nowlan with his usual artistry and lushly coloured by David Baron, knit the whole thing together with humour, menace and even a certain sexiness, thankfully of a relatively innocent kind that never descends into the realms of cheesecake. It’s a lovely book to look at.

Adam West apparently considers King Tut to be the only villain especially created for the Batman TV show who really worked. This reinvention really works too, and hopefully ‘A New Dawn’ won’t be a one-off appearance.

Three issues being a bit stingy for an entire trade paperback, DC have included what they describe as ‘three rare treasures featuring the art of José Luis García-López’. These ‘treasures’ are three early 80s stories from ‘The Brave and the Bold’ and ‘Batman’. All three are pretty silly and don’t make a whole lot of sense (two are written by Gerry Conway, read into that fact what you will), but they’re simple fun and even early García-López art demonstrates much of the clean line and flair for composition that he’s well known for.

‘King Tut’s Tomb’ is a well put-together collection of decent Batman stories with lovely art. Well worth a look.


Line Break

By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named markclapham.com.




One Response

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shiny Shelf. Shiny Shelf said: Batman: King Tut’s Tomb: ‘King Tut’s Tomb’ collects three issues of ‘Batman: Confidential’, smartly re-inventing a… http://bit.ly/ddzoAE [...]