Batman #60 – Tom King, Writer; Mikel Janin, Jorge Fornes, Artists; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Penguin’s Wife Revealed!
Ray: Coming off of last issue’s brutal confrontation in Arkham Asylum, where Batman beat Bane half to death and blue up his relationship with the GCPD in the process, Batman #60 continues to unravel Batman’s mental state – or does it? There’s an ambiguity to this issue that lingers throughout and only grows when you see the last page. The art is split between Mikel Janin (who writes the scenes involving Jim Gordon, Alfred, and Penguin) and Jorge Fornes (who draws a series of segments involving Batman). Batman has seemingly gone off the deep end, hunting down one Bat-villain after another and brutalizing them to get any information they might have on Bane. These segments range from chilling (the near-death experiences he puts Firefly and Maxie Zeus through) to oddly hilarious (Kite-Man’s one-off appearance where he gets in his catchphrase before taking a punch). But what’s clear in all these scenes is that Batman hasn’t reached rock bottom – he’s just getting started.
That leads Jim Gordon to look over all these cases and make the dramatic decision to cut off relations with Batman altogether – including taking the visually impressive step of shattering the Bat-signal. This was done before in No Man’s Land, but it’s still a visual with a lot of impact. At the same time, Penguin has sought refuge in the Batcave, where Alfred keeps him in a cage and feeds him sardines like a zookeeper feeding a penguin. It’s all very weird and gets more so when Penguin starts talking about his beloved Penguin – his darling wife, who is also a penguin. Needless to say, King’s take on Penguin is particularly deranged, but it’s one of the more interesting stories featuring the villain in a long time. The shadow Bane casts over this series is long, as even Joker never really invoked this much fear in his fellow villains. But the end of the issue calls everything we saw into question with the arrival of another figure from Bane’s cabal of villains – Thomas Wayne, the Flashpoint Batman. Was it Bruce we were seeing attacking the villains earlier? Lot of questions to be answered, but this issue is a big step up from the last one.
Corrina: I WAS RIGHT. PENNY WAS A PENGUIN. Okay, I’ll say it. Told ya so, Ray. Which does add a whole different angle to fridging Penny’s wife, making it less problematic but also (I’m guessing) squickier to some.
In my review of the last issue, I complained about Batman’s characterization as basically a maniac with no actual thought behind him, not the Slytherin planner that he should be. This issue ends with that big cliffhanger, meaning Thomas Wayne Batman from…Flashpoint? Dark Nights?…is either the angry, nasty Batman or the guy behind everyone or both or something. Ray likes the Thomas Wayne Batman character. I like him as little as the Batman-Who-Laughs, which is not at all. I guess the silver lining is that maybe Bruce wasn’t doing all the horrible stuff? (But that doesn’t excuse previous bad characterizations that I’ve noted.)
However, I have to mention Fornes’ art because I had to double-check the credits once I took in these breathtaking segments, as my first thought was “Did they somehow get David Mazzucchelli to do parts of this issue?” No, but Fornes should be drawing a Batman or similar noir story on a regular DC book, stat.
Onto the next issue, where maybe it’s revealed that Martha Wayne wasn’t Thomas’ wife either, but a clone made by Poison Ivy. Or something like that.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.