Batman #71 – Tom King, Writer; Mikel Janin, Jorge Fornes, Artists; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: What’s Next? Villains, It Seems
Ray: Now that Batman’s “Knightmares” are over, he’s fought his way out of Arkham and is ready to take the fight back to Bane, but the truth may be more complicated than that. In split narratives in Batman #71, drawn by Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes, Tom King once again makes us question the reality of this series and how much of what we know is filtered through Batman’s increasingly fragile sanity. As the issue opens, a broken-looking Batman is watching as his home is invaded. At the same time, Batman faces off against an enraged Commissioner Gordon and lights the Bat-signal – lit in red, an urgent sign calling all Bat-family members to come home. Glad to see a Cass cameo given her absence from King’s work overall, and Jason’s reaction was the issue’s funniest line. Also, Tim seems to be having a good time with Young Justice. But it’s Barbara, in a conversation with her father (likely set before their big falling-out) where she expresses her worry that their mutual friend may not be all there.
Fornes’ segment, meanwhile, is dark and foreboding – set entirely within the halls of a darkened Wayne Manor as Bane and Thomas Wayne force a terrified Alfred to serve them while Bruce, coiled with rage, keeps threatening to break Bane’s back. The tension in this segment is fantastic, but Bruce seems so irrational that it becomes clear not all is as it seems. That continues as the Janin segment takes the strategy meeting to an intervention. The Bats are becoming increasingly worried about Bruce’s erratic behavior since he was left at the altar, and Tim’s attempts to sympathize with him provoke a violent reaction at the same time as it becomes clear much of last issue was not what it seems. King does a great job of capturing Batman’s slowly unraveling sanity – but isn’t this just where we were a few issues ago? So the end of Knightmares was all for nothing? While the execution of this comic is excellent, the never-ending bleakness and dark turns make it a little hard to stay invested.
Corrina: It’s a measure of my growing cynicism about DC’s current direction, especially with the upcoming “Year of the Villain,” that I view the appearance of various members of the Bat-Family in Batman #71 as just a gathering of potential cannon-fodder, especially since King has rarely used at least two of these characters in his Batman run.
Instead of anticipating the fun of watching the Bat-Family interact, I’m left wondering when the next shoe will drop. That might be entertaining for some but I find the emphasis on complete darkness and insanity all the time too much. Is Batman still lost in his imagination or not? I am finding that I don’t care about the answer.
However, it all looks amazing, as Janin and Fornes can draw any DC character well, seemingly at will. I love the depiction of the Bat-Signal and the various members of the Bat-Family on the rooftop. There is not much action in their conversation but the tension still drips from the panels.
I do find the lack of discussion of Nightwing odd, however, considering his being shot in the head is one of the reasons that Batman wants to go after Bane. The rest of the Bat-Family would naturally want the one who shot Dick as well and, yet, Bruce is the only one that seems concerned. Barbara, certainly, would have been doing investigating on her own. But, for some reason, none of the writers or editors of the books depicting the Bat-Family have been interested in this aspect of Nightwing’s shooting, leaving Bruce on his own. (Note: Damian would have been much better used either delving into this himself or shadowing “Ric” in Bludhaven because he wouldn’t be adult and logical about leaving Dick alone, whatever his wishes currently. But more on Damian in another review.)
In any case, I’m anticipating more tragedy next issue.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.