BATMAN #57 & #58

There once was a man from Russia, who essentially was a badass mitherfocker. Yet little did he know, he wasn’t the only mofo, because his Dad once went out with a right scrubber. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Tom King, Tony Daniel, Mark Buckingham, Andrew Pepoy, Mikel Janin, and published by DC Comics in November, 2018.

TO QUOTE Anderson Silva: 'Life is about how much you can take and keep fighting, how much you can suffer and keep moving forward'. 

Once upon a time, in a land of wind and snow, there were two men, a bat and a beast, who collectively decided to beat the living shit out of each other. Which they did, in fact, with both parties either slapping, kicking, punching, or shooting their way towards victory.

After a while, the two of them finally came to a parting of ways, leaving one man triumphant and the other with a broken neck. So, which man won and which man lost? The bat or the beast? No, I’m not saying, but the one thing I can say for certain; is that a few weeks later, The Penguin is finally released from Arkham Asylum, and dead set on killing Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth, while his employer deals with other business elsewhere. Want to know more? Then please check out issue 57 and 58 of Batman today. In the meantime though, here, check this out… 

Part One) CUTIE BEAST:   In no uncertain terms, issue 57 of Batman was a tale of two equal halves. With one half firmly focused on a fight between Batman and the KG Beast (illustrated by Tony Daniel), while the other half was dedicated to telling a Russian parable meant for impressionable children (illustrated by Mark Buckingham and Andrew Pepoy). Now, in my opinion, this was a pretty decent read because both parts of the plot were well paced, well illustrated, and well enjoyable to follow. So much so, in fact, that the only bad thing I can say is that the overall adventure was too quick to complete.

But then again, the actual fight hardly had any words, and it was mostly comprised of bold and dynamic visuals of both men duking it out. While the parable, on the other hand, was constructed in a fairly simple fashion and felt like a pastel-colored Grimm's fairy tale, full of cute characters, cartoonish designs, and an underlining message that was very dark indeed: Dedicated people sometimes have to go through hell to eventually reach paradise, if they can?

Structurally, both of these stories interchanged with each other one section at a time. So when the book began, page one was dedicated to the parable, pages two, three, and four were focused on the fight, page five was the parable again, pages six, seven, and eight were the fight again, and so on, and so forth, to and fro, to and fro, with each turn of the page progressing each slice of the story, until they both reached some form of satisfactory conclusion. The end. Finito.

Now I know that some of you might not enjoy this brand of two-sided narrative, but to me, personally, yeah, I liked it, I liked it quite a bit, largely due to both parts being unique in tone and design, and gradually feeding off each other on a subliminal level, if not a narrative one. After all, the children’s story was a tragic tale about survival, death, and bad culinary skills, and it featured a selection of cute little animals, including a fox, a pig, a wolf, a rabbit, and a very happy squirrel.

Although, to be fair, the squirrel wasn’t very happy once the tale came to a close, simply because most of the cast, himself included, finally ended up being eaten by those who managed to survive the ordeal. And as for the fight between the bat and the beast, well, that was a fight, plain and simple, which was nicely choreographed and flowed like an alcoholic drowning in a sea of wine (Take that however you so wish). Seriously, folks! All in all, I felt that this battle was a good example of sequential storytelling at its best, and I must congratulate Tony Daniel for producing a magnificent piece of work that depicted two men punching and shooting each other into oblivion.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of someone being shot; that reminds me: Who do you think hired the Beast to assassinate Dick Grayson? From the looks of it, Batman might have a pretty good idea already, and to some extent, I think I may have a pretty good idea too. Well, between you and me, I think the mastermind is none other than Dan DiDio, the current co-publisher of DC Comics, as he doesn’t like Dick and he never did. Heck, I can even remember when he wanted to kill him off at the end of Infinite Crisis, so what’s stopping him now, eh? Especially since he’s already snuffed out Roy, Wally, Sergeant Steel, and Blue Jay!

Part Two) KILL ALFRED:   Ha! Only joking. In all seriousness, dear reader, even if Dan wanted to kill Dick, I highly suspect it to be someone else, someone associated with Batman’s rogues gallery: Such as the Crown Prince of Crime, The Joker, or the Brown Rinse of Grime, Bane, because in each instance both men are evil enough to attack the Bat-Clan, one, by one, by one. As a matter of fact, one of them even had the audacity to hire The Penguin to kill Alfred during issue 58.

Well, that’s what we were led to believe, anyway, as a large portion of this plot revolved around Ozzy making the necessary arrangements to whack Bruce’s butler, despite coming to terms with a recent bereavement. Namely, his wife, Penny, who mysteriously kicked the bucket while he was away in Arkham Asylum!

Come to think of it, another mystery that popped up during this issue relates to Mister Freeze: That being, the killing spree he was blamed for a few months back, which is now continuing and likewise hasn’t yet been resolved. I wonder why that is though? I mean, could both scenarios possibly be connected together somehow? And if they are, why, how, and for what reason? One possible theory suggests that they’re both two parts of a much larger plan to confuse Batman and his allies! A plan, I hasten to add, that pits The Penguin against Mister Freeze in the vain attempt to distract the Dark Knight's attention elsewhere. Or alternatively, am I reading too much into this situation, and, you know, allowing my imagination to run rampant? Yeah, it’s most probably that, isn’t it? Which, in a roundabout way, kind of explains why I would have liked to have seen more from this issue, issue 58, than what I actually got!

Well, with all due respect, as much as I loved Mikel Janin’s magnificent artwork -- go on, check it out, as it’s just amazing through and through -- more or less issue 58 was a proverbial damp squib. Story-wise, at least, because it set up a scenario and then allowed it to play out, scene, by seen, by scene, but ultimately, at the end of the day, nothing much happened in terms of plot development, except for putting Batman and The Penguin on exactly the same page. I did enjoy most of the humor though, particularly Alfred's sarcastic wit, plus I got a right kick out of that scene between Batman and Jim, where the former wouldn’t reply to the latter’s concerns for his partner's tragic shooting (see the Nightwing title for more details).

What do you think, dear reader? Did you like this story or wasn’t it your cup of tea? Also, who do you think wanted Dick dead, and what are your opinions on the final part of ‘Burden Of The Beast’? Whatever the case, please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. 

I would now like to musically match-up issue 57 to the nursery rhyme, 'Ring Around The Rosie', simply because of the haunting yet child-like undertones they both share.

Do you know what these two episodes have in common? It’s the cold. They both have 'the cold' in common, plain and simple, because issue 57 was set in an icy location, while issue 58 featured The Penguin. Say no more. Comparison made.

At the end of issue 58, The Penguin instructs his henchmen to do something rather strange while Batman stands nearby. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess what he tells them to do? Could it involve…

  • Stabbing James Gordon.
  • Dancing with Batgirl.
  • Poisoning Jason Todd.
  • Kissing Batwoman.
  • Preying with Azrael.
  • Shooting Alfred Pennyworth. 
  • Killing themselves.
  • Playing video games with Duke. 
Nuff said.

BATMAN #57 & #58 BATMAN #57 & #58 Reviewed by David Andrews on November 29, 2018 Rating: 5

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