Many of the various Knight Terrors stories, even the better ones, haven’t quite felt like nightmares. Sometimes they act like dreams, but they’re really just kinda sad or scary stories with some horror elements added.
But man, the Detective Comics story about Jim Gordon’s nightmares is really selling it.
Issue: Knight Terrors: Detective Comics #2, August 2023
Writer: Dan Watters
Artist: Riccardo Federici
The Plot: Jim Gordon’s dreams take a horrifying turn.
Commentary: Commissioner Gordon, or possibly former Commissioner as I am not certain, found himself looking into a case where three presumably well-meaning residents of Gotham City made a deal with some sort of Lovecraftian entities for the means to make Gotham better. One wanted the wealth to make improvements. One wanted power to be a new, armored Batman. And one was looking for knowledge. Somehow, this deal also changed Gordon into some sort of living glass. If he does something like fire his gun or miss a step, a part of him breaks off.
And, of course, the entities that made the deal didn’t give the askers what they were looking for. The wealth request led to a woman dying because she couldn’t stop vomiting up precious gems. The power guy is trapped in a form of the Bat-armor Gordon wore in his own time as Batman, and he’s essentially killing anyone who tries to get in his way. And the knowledge one? Well, that one will hurt the most.
I think what I liked most about the Detective Comics two-parter is, well, it barely connects to the Knight Terrors story (as a Jim Gordon story probably should). Gordon’s nightmare allows him to show off his detective skills (you know, for Detective Comics) with moody artwork and a scenario that follows its own rules. The creatures Gordon interrogates at the end before he wakes up could have come from any storyline, and the implication at the end that they’re real and could come back is a nice touch. Likewise, what “knowledge” learned is something that could seem hopeless in the right circumstances, making it appropriate for a nightmare.
Basically, this is the sort of story these Knight Terrors stories should have been telling all along.