Batman #77 – Tom King, Writer; Mikel Janin, Tony Daniel, Artists; Norm Rapmund, Inker; Jordie Bellaire, Tomeu Morey, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS
Ray: Tom King is one of the biggest puzzles in comics, as his comics are often equal parts the most impressive and the most frustrating on the stands. That’s the case with Batman #77, which begins with some of the best writing of King’s run and ends with a gut-punch of a twist that has the potential to destroy the character’s status quo if not reversed. As we saw last issue, Damian has returned and decided to enter Gotham in defiance of Bane’s orders – and the threat on Alfred’s life – and what follows is the best spotlight for the young Robin we’ve gotten in years. The character’s been troubled in recent runs, but here King nails the balance perfectly – he’s snarky, ruthless, but it’s all aimed in the right direction. First he goes up against the too-crazy-for-words Gotham Girl, and manages to take out a Superman-level power using some magic-based tricks. Then he takes out Zsasz and Scarecrow – aka some of Gotham’s new cops – when they make the fatal mistake of threatening a dog around him.
But it’s the third segment of Damian’s fight where King’s writing really shines, as he faces off against his “grandfather” and absolutely shreds Thomas with words. However, he is a Robin against a Batman with none of his father’s scruples, and it isn’t long before Thomas delivers a brutal beating to Damian and captures him.
The story is interspliced with a segment where Selina and Bruce discuss their next move and Selina fights against Bruce’s self-destructive instincts, but it’s the last segment that people will be talking about. In that segment, Damian is forced to watch as Bane follows through on his threat and snaps Alfred’s neck in front of him. It’s brutal and unambiguous.
Tom King just killed Alfred Pennyworth, the glue that holds the Bat-family together. I’m fully aware that this will likely be reversed by Lazarus Pit either in the next few months or the next year and a half, but in a way that just makes it feel cheaper and ends what started as brilliant in Batman #77 on an oddly sour note. #SaveAlfred
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.