Batman #83 – Tom King, Writer; Mikel Janin, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 6/10
Corrina: Death Has Lost Its Storytelling Power
Ray: Tom King may have the strangest sense of pacing in the DC stable, and it alternates between fascinating and frustrating, especially in reading Batman #83. It’s been three months since we saw Bane snap Alfred’s neck, and it’s not been until now that we get confirmation – Batman’s closest confidant is dead.
King wisely keeps the opening pages almost dialogue-free, instead letting Mikel Janin’s brilliant art tell the story of Batman’s gruesome discovery. His combination of grief and rage as he wordlessly responds is one of the best segments of the series, and it’s written over by Alfred’s final letter to Bruce. Some of it is very good, with Alfred looking back at their long relationship and how he helped Bruce go from a broken, disturbed boy to one with a purpose – albeit one that was still slowly destroying him.
Alfred’s love for Bruce shines through here, but then there’s the big reveal – that Alfred sent word to Bruce that he was safe knowing he couldn’t get away and would be killed. This is another example of King returning to an odd repeated theme of “heroic suicide” that seems to be becoming a fixation.
Even if I hate the events here, I can admit that the first two thirds of this issue is brilliantly executed. I can’t say that about the back end. Bruce is led to his “father” by Catwoman, through a corridor of his allies, all likely mind-controlled by the Psycho Pirate.
I don’t feel like King has thoroughly explained just how Thomas went from a gritty street fighter in his original series to a world-class fighter who can take out an army of the DCU’s best martial artists. He also definitely hasn’t explained how he turned into a monster. I’m not sure if this is good writing or not, but I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character as much as I do Thomas Wayne in these last few pages.
That’s because he’s every abusive father I’ve ever encountered or read. His smug, sadistic satisfaction as he explains how Bruce got Alfred killed and how he hopes Bruce has learned his lesson isn’t just villainy. It’s the actions of someone so far removed from humanity that it’s hard to believe he’s motivated by love for Bruce. The next issue is a spotlight for Thomas, filling in the gaps, but I have a hard time seeing anything saving this character turn. And it really seems like Bane is ultimately a footnote to City of Bane.
Corrina: I’ve been quiet about this storyline for a few issues, simply because I had little to say that Ray wasn’t already articulating.
But I’ll point out the this story relies on a “shock death” that feels decidedly unshocking, given it will be undone with yet another crisis looming, and that dulls any emotional impact this might have. That’s something the creative team can’t really control, save that it was their choice to kill a character.
There were far more interesting storytelling choices inherent in actually letting Selina and Bruce get married than in killing yet another member of the Bat-Cast. Again. (I gather they decided killing Robins was kinda out, given the history of killing Robins.)
Maybe Bruce and Selina will eventually get married and we can see what this creative team can do with a basically positive premise, especially since that premise hasn’t been done to, well, death.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.
2 thoughts on “Review – Batman #83: A Final Goodbye”
Sorry to disgree with you here but I loved the issue. Whenever alfred comes back ( Which comic book death is ever permanent) does not take away in my opinion the dramatic weight this issue gave to Alfred’s death. Him coming back is besides the point, the fact of the matter is that what Alfred meant to Bruce was perfectly put forth in giving Tom King’s long arc dramatic weight to Bruce’s questions about having a “good death”. The book is in my opinion the best issue of Tom King’s entire run on Batman and it cements my opinion that King is one of the best writters we have working in comic books today.
Sorry you did not like it,
Alfred may have had 5 actual lines in the entire run that weren’t written in journals and left in notes. Tom King did zero character work with him, but uses everyone else’s ground work to write an issue that only happened because he needed to shock the world to get them interested in a failing run. Then we get over narration and more quoted poems instead of original dialogue. Ray mentioned the beginning sequence and I wish that Tom King could have shown what a great storyteller I keep hearing he is by scripting a silent issue since the pain Batman would feel here didn’t need any sort of overdone narration.
This does bring up a problem I have with this run as well…King moves from shock moment to shock moment and because we are on to the next thing, we forget about unresolved shock moments…like Bruce getting shot in the stomach last issue. It happened with Thomas’ injuries issue before and has happened over and over. Riddler getting shot in Jokes and Riddles. So, I don’t care less because of an upcoming reboot, I care less because nothing sticks in this run and any big moment is brushed aside the next issue or so when King is done with it or it doesn’t fit the story anymore. Two other examples are the KGBeast story (nobody could reach him except they do issues latter told in narration) and Cold Days (Freeze setup, Batman feels bad until he punches him for no reason later in Arkham)
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