For this chapter of Batman, Tom King writes a monologue!
Let’s face it, King’s run on Batman has lacked momentum for a good while now. I’m bored to tears with it, and I was already irritated with it before I became bored. With the announcement that King would exit Batman with issue 85, I was hoping things would move a little faster as he raced to finish his story… Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Granted, and to be fair in this respect, there was no way King could have edited this issue following the announcement unless he pulled a Doomsday Clock and delayed the book. And for the love of all things good and holy, please do not make us endure this run any longer than we have to. But, regardless of what was planned, what’s changed, and what will be impacted, none of it excuses the fact that this issue is an absolute waste of time and money.
Following a string of issues that were pointless and contained no plot progression, yet again, King delivers another issue that has zero plot progression. The last issue ended with Batman beaten and broken by Bane, and this issue ends with Batman beaten and broken by Bane. I’d like to say other, interesting things occur here, but they don’t. In fact, this issue is nothing more than Thomas Wayne recapping King’s run while Batman fights Bane in the background. Throw in a few splash pages from Mikel Janin to serve as callbacks to previous arcs, and you have this issue in a nutshell.
The worst part about this though is that King tries to use this issue and approach as a means to explain how Bane has been behind the events since day one, and it just doesn’t work. You can’t just say, “Bane set these events in motion before the first arc,” and not provide any context or show how. At this point, you’re just saying it happened, but nothing in the stories referenced actually support that idea. If this were really planned out, then King should have done the due diligence of showing how Bane actually set everything into motion. But to do that, King would have to actually work his stories, and he doesn’t seem interested in that these days. And even then, the only way this would be believable is if Bane in omniscient.
In addition to this, there are comments in this issue about what occurred in previous arcs that just aren’t accurate. For instance, there’s a page where King states that Joker is an “Old friend of Selina’s.” What? Since when? Then he claims he’s someone “Whom she’s always listened to.” Really? When? Aside from the prelude to the wedding, when has this been true to the point that it’s the standard and not a one-off? This is just another example of King making crap up for the convenience of his own story. And he does it again in this issue by implying that Bruce and Selina remember the events of the alternate world that Booster Gold created during “The Gift,” and that this memory was a large reason for Batman and Catwoman not getting married… The problem here is that story clearly established that neither of these characters remembers this world/ timeline.
On a technical standpoint, I honestly can’t say anything that I haven’t already said before. This alone should speak volumes concerning the state of this title. King is continuing to structure his stories where the dialogue doesn’t directly correlate with the art. It’s can be a great technique when used for effect, but it becomes way less effective when every single issue is executed this way. At some point, it would be nice to actually get solid, substantial dialogue that is presented through a linear, consistent conversation – conversation being the keyword. There’s nothing engaging about this book because the characters don’t engage with one another. All King does is have characters talk at one another, and, quite frankly, I’m over it.
The Art: Yet again, the art is, by far, the best thing about Batman. Fornes delivers some truly incredible panels of Batman and Bane coming to blows, and I really wish he had a quality script to support his art. By all means, this should have felt like an epic fight, but an egotistical journey through King’s Batman just deflates the entire exchange. By this point, I can’t help but feel that King needs to credit an 85 issue run to his artists, because with a lesser team, his run probably wouldn’t have lasted as long.
Janin also contributes art for this issue. I love his work, but I was less impressed with it here. Most of his pages felt like lifts, or edits to art he’d already created. Nothing actually felt inspired by him here, and it shows. Maybe he’s as tired of King’s Batman as I am?
- You think plot progression is pointless.
- You don’t feel that King is completely off-base and disconnected from the reality of Batman as a character.
- There are more backbreaking references.
Overall: Thomas Wayne recaps Tom King’s Batman run in an issue that is completely skippable. *Sigh* I just need to make it through Batman #85…