Batman #38 – Tom King, Writer; Travis Moore, Artist; Giulia Brusco, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: A Focus On the Detective
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: King once again takes a break from his main narrative to do something completely different in Batman #38, and once again, this isn’t an issue that will leave my mind anytime soon. “The Origin of Bruce Wayne” picks up on a lot of the themes from brilliant recent stories like Batman: Creature of the Night and King’s past exploration of Bruce as a child, and finds Bruce embroiled in a case of a child with murdered parents whose situation drastically parallels his own.
The child, Matthew, came home to find his parents murdered, and is surprisingly well-spoken, but still consumed with his grief. He quickly latches on to Bruce as someone who experienced the same thing and Bruce does his best to guide him – clearly uncomfortable with the role – while also doing what he does best, and hunting down the culprits to deal out justice as Batman. But as always, not all is as it seems.
Batman’s investigation first leads him to Mr. Zsasz, whose gimmick of cutting himself for everyone he kills has never looked so horrific. But soon, holes in his confession emerge and a mysterious letter sent to Arkham inmates turns out to be a code. More dead bodies show up, with ties to both Matthew and villains, and new suspects emerge. One little detail I loved about this issue is just how casually Selina is worked into this story. Alfred and Gordon are there, of course, as Bruce’s sounding boards for the case, but so is Selina.
King really seems to view Selina as a full partner for Bruce in all areas of his life, which makes me very hopeful for the future of that relationship. I will say, I felt something was off with Matthew from the start, so the twist at the end of the issue didn’t really take me by surprise as much, and the reveal felt a bit rushed with only 20 pages to do this concept. But the last few pages are genuinely disturbing, and few writers can tell a done-in-one as effectively as King.
Corrina: This is a great example of Batman as a detective, something we’ve not seen much yet from King. We’ve seen, in his first arc, Batman as a warrior, then as a relentless force of nature haunted by the past, then, in these last few issues, a more human and relatable version of Bruce Wayne. That Bruce shows up in this issue, too, comforting Matthew.
I grew up on stories using Batman’s detective skills as his primary asset and I was glad to have this story. I did, however, solve the mystery right away. It had echoes not only of Tommy Elliot/Hush’s origin but also of Batman: Broken City, an arc written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Eduardo Risso. (Note: kids hate their parents in Gotham. I’m betting it’s something in the water.)
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.