BATMAN #59 & #60

There once was a gangster named Ozzy, who wanted to dance like the dancer, Bob Fosse! But Ozzy couldn’t dance, not even in France, when he lived with the comedian, Giulia Rozzi. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jorge Fornes, and published by DC Comics in January, 2019.

TO QUOTE Tacitus: 'Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; whereas falsehood is confirmed by haste and uncertainty'. 

Ever since Oswald Cobblepot lost his dearly departed wife, Penny, he’s been feeling so sad, so low, and so emotionally unstable, he’s now prepared to commit the cardinal sin. Namely, to snitch on a fellow felon, Bane, by telling Batman that he was behind a series of murders and is currently the King of Arkham Asylum

But can this be true? Can Bane really be the secret mastermind behind many of Batman’s most recent misadventures? Such as the shooting of Nightwing, for instance! And if this is the case, what should Batman do next? Should he storm into Arkham and beat the living crap out of him? Or should he run around town and scare criminals to tell him the truth? Criminals such as Maxie Zeus, Firefly, and Kite Man. Either way, at the end of the day, Commissioner Gordon knows that something is terribly wrong here, and that is why you should pick up issue 59 and 60 of Batman today. In the meantime though, please, check this out…

Part One) THE KNIGHT LIGHT:   With all due respect I’ve never been a big fan of Tom King’s version of Batman. Well, throughout the years, I’ve always perceived Bruce as being a fairly stoic character that’s disciplined, organized, and emotionally stable. Whereas Tom, on the other hand, must see him as if he were a fragile human being who goes berserk whenever pushed to extremes. 

Admittedly, there have been a couple of occasions where Batman has gone over the edge, such as in the now classic, ‘A Death in the Family’ storyline. But if truth be told, he’s normally a pretty placid person, in part, who’s managed to maintain his ‘inner Bruce’, without appearing like a bull in a china shop.

Now, to illustrate what I mean, I’d like to draw your attention to a sequence Tom constructed for issue 59. A sequence where Batman marched into Arkham, ZOOM!, intimidated the guards, GRRRR!, beat up a seemingly defenseless Bane, SLAP!, before punching James Gordon right in the mouth, POW!, all because he believed some sob story told to him by The Penguin.

I mean, seriously? Does that sound like Batman to you? Because it doesn’t to me! In fact, it seems so unlike him, I’m starting to wonder if Tom is truly suited for this book. After all, how many murder mysteries has he penned for the worlds greatest detective? How many self-contained stories has he told within a single issue? And while I’m at it, how many adventures, epics, or thrillers has he put together, highlighting matters that involve the homeless, the poor, and the everyday working stiff? Not many, that’s for sure, as he usually specializes in self-centered stories where people talk about Batman’s personality, Batman’s motives, and Batman’s outlook on life, filtered through a simple and straightforward narrative. Which, to me, could mean either one of two things: Tom either relies too much on character-based scenarios in order to construct his plots, or alternatively, his idea of Batman is vastly different from mine (which, yes, seems to be the case).

In stark contrast to this, however, I do admire his ability to make some of the supporting cast seem very, very, believable. Yes, I know that I’ve contradicted everything I’ve just said, but trust me, folks, I believed The Penguin when he mentioned falling on his own sword for the sake of true love (that was very romantic), I believed Gordon when he defended a villain in the name of justice (he's always been a principled person), and I believed Bane when he allowed himself to be beaten up to further his own cause (loved that smile). Although, come to think of it...

Part Two) VANE:   ...what is Bane’s cause? Initially, I presumed that he was out for revenge because of what Batman and Catwoman did to him at the end of the ‘I Am Suicide’ storyline. But then, when I turned to the last page of issue 60, and saw who I actually saw? Well, I didn’t know what to think! One part of me presumed that this particular person was dead. Another part needed to know more about their motivations. Whereas another part would like to find out how, why, and when they got together with Bane to plan this current gambit! All of which eventually made me feel confused, overwhelmed, and genuinely surprised by this final page revelation.

As a matter of fact, I was so surprised, that I started to realize that the best thing about this adventure were all of those unusual twists and turns it presented us with! This included The Penguins interactions with Alfred (which makes sense, considering they both appreciate the finer things in life), along with those scenes featuring Jim’s gradual disillusion over Batman’s harsh actions (which, to be fair, mainly works within the confines of this specific story arc, but that’s only if you can disregard their long and established history together).

Funnily enough, this point brings me quite nicely onto something else about these two episodes I thoroughly enjoyed: Namely, the artwork provided by Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes. Overall, the two of them worked together in a fairly seamless fashion by crafting bold, double-page-spreads; nicely choreographed-action-scenes; as well as a number of dialogue-driven-sequences full of emotion, exposition, and pathos. Mikel, for instance, has a very neat and expressive style of art, which can be seen in his great new rendition of The Penguin (now sporting a bald head, a round frame, and a black-tinted monocle). Whereas Jorge’s artwork, on the other hand, was far more muted in comparison! Similar, in fact, to David Mazzucchelli’s style of illustration (best known for drawing 'Batman: Year One'), despite dealing with the action based scenes more than those that focused on plot.

So, what did you think, dear reader? Did you like these issues? Did you hate them? Or are you a bit like me? Sitting on the fence until you can finally find out what’s really going on with this slightly concussed storyline. Either way, please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

For this month's musical match-up, I suggest we partner this adventure with a melody heard in Tim Burton’s, ‘Batman Returns’: The Penguin’s Theme. After all, they’re both slightly romantic, melancholy in tone, and very, very baroque.

Yes. That’s right, dear reader. I’m now going to compare these two episodes to a punching bag. Want to know why? Well, it’s because that’s precisely what Batman currently needs to let out his frustration.

You know it makes sense. Comparison made.

At the end of issue 60, Batman finally comes face-to-face with the person we presume is behind this mess. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess who this person actually is? Could it be…

  1. His not-so-dead sidekick: Jason Todd.
  2. His proctologist: Dick Burns.
  3. His foe: The Joker.
  4. His father: Thomas Wayne.
  5. His friend: Clark Kent.
  6. His masseur: Bane.
  7. His other not-so-dead sidekick: Ric Grayson.
  8. His groin-itch: Selina Kyle.

Nuff said. 

BATMAN #59 & #60 BATMAN #59 & #60 Reviewed by David Andrews on January 07, 2019 Rating: 5

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