Review – “Batman #56”: Paths of Vengeance

Comic Books DC This Week
Batman #56 variant cover, credit to DC Comics.

Batman #56 – Tom King, Writer; Tony Daniel, Artist; Danny Miki, Inker; Tomeu Morey, Colorist


Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Batman On the Vengeance Trail. Never Seen *That* Before. :sigh:

Ray: Following the shocking finale to last issue, which saw Dick Grayson take a bullet to the head (or at least it would have been shocking if DC didn’t spoil it seven ways from Sunday), Tom King takes an interesting route to Batman #56– continuing to split the narrative between two stories that barely interact. While Bruce Wayne is as driven as he’s ever been, pushing himself beyond his limits to track down the man who nearly killed his son, KG Beast is off on his own mission – tracking down his estranged father in rural Siberia. The issue opens with the Beast breaking down the door to his father’s cabin, just as Batman breaks down the door to the gun shop that sold the villain his rifle. Batman gets what he needs and gets on the Beast’s trail, heading from lead to lead including Bronze Tiger – who correctly identifies that Bruce is not in a healthy place mentally and tries to dissuade him. It’s good to see Tiger again for the first time since the brilliant I Am Suicide arc. But the most interesting lead Batman tracks is one that I don’t think anyone expected – and it might be the first tie-in to Mister Miracle.

That would be Kanto, the legendary Apokaliptan assassin who is hiding out on Earth from agents of New Genesis. This is easily the issue’s best segment, opening with Batman in one of Kanto’s deathtraps and at the assassin’s mercy. He has no chance against a trained alien killer – but what he does have is information and leverage. By the end of the segment, Kanto is genuinely scared of Batman, and it’s clear just how much Batman prepared for this. Batman’s mission of revenge is so well-done that it’s easy to overlook the KG Beast segments, but the showdown between the villain and his abusive father is a brilliant look at toxic families and how they spiral out and create toxic people. It’s a cascade of verbal violence and cruelty that ends in a shocking act of physical violence – just as Batman defies death to head into the Siberian wild to get his revenge. Whatever the next issue brings in terms of the actual showdown between the two players, this issue set it up in such a way that it had better live up to the prelude.

Batman on the warpath. Credit to DC Comics.

Corrina: KGBeast gets more characterization in this issue that Catwoman did in the past year. He gets a father and a history of his family. Selina Kyle got an alternate universe where she turned into a homicidal maniac who could only say ‘meow.’

We won’t even mention Dick Grayson because Batman hardly does either. I guess the best thing for a friend who’s been shot in the head is to indulge one’s grief by running halfway around the world beating up people and figuratively screaming ‘vengeance.’

If it sounds like I care nothing for KGBeast or his father or that I’ve seen Batman devolving into “rage, 24/7” before, then you would be right. I said before when the wedding didn’t happen that the new, edgy thing would not be to make Batman sad and angry again but to try out a happy Batman. We all know edgy, angry, ragey Batman. We’ve seen it over and over, so much so that it became a joke in the Batman Lego Movie.

Now, the story throws more tragedy at Batman, a tragedy I don’t even feel because there are no Bruce or Dick scenes in this book. KGBeast gets all the real estate.

The scene with Kanto is cool, though. Too bad it’s not in another story.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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