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BATMAN #70 & #71

[ STASH THE BAT
There once was a very Dark Knight, who was generally pretty good in a fight. But then, one day, to his, dismay, he found out that he was allergic to light. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Tom King, Jorge Fornes, Mikel Janin, and published by DC Comics in May, 2019.

TO QUOTE Bruce Lee:Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick’.

THE REVIEW:
Out of curiosity, can you guess what Batman attempts to do as soon as he escapes from Bane’s nightmarish trap? Well, does he: (A) Have a bath. (B) Have a dump. Or (C) Have a fight with the residents living inside Arkham Asylum.

Now if you picked option ‘C’, congratulations, you’ve won the chance of seeing Batman beat up most of the Arkham inmates, including Two-Face, The Riddler, and Mister Freeze, among others, in order to break free from the aforementioned madhouse.

But if you chose any of the other two options, Ops! You lose, so I now suggest that you rally the troops and try to take down the two men behind this mess! Namely, Bane and Thomas Wayne! Want to know more? Then please pick up issue 70 and 71 of Batman today. In the meantime though, here, check this out… 

Part One) POW-BANG-DONG:   I’ve been reading the ongoing Batman series for over 20 years now, and during that time, I’ve read an awful lot of stories which feature the title character beating up the bad guy and saving the day.  As a matter of fact, most of his adventures focus on him slapping someone, saving someone, or outsmarting someone, depending on the who, the what, or the why of the situation.  So, as you can imagine, it’s going to take an extra special story to really impress me, especially if it adheres to this brand of rock’em, sock’em format. 

But, can this be achieved? Can Tom King possibly come up with a confrontational comic book where Batman goes up against his Rogues Gallery in a new and original way? Or alternatively, does he just spew out the same old stuff and nonsense and pretend that it’s a lot better than it actually is? Well, between you and me, I’m afraid to say that he decides to take the latter route -- sh#t -- saying so because, despite the great looking artwork provided by Jorge Fornes and Mikel Janin, at the end of the day, these two episodes were trite, clichéd, and very pedestrian to read. After all, you could easily sum up the entirety of issue 70 in one single sentence -- ‘Batman beats up a group of his old adversaries in order to escape from Arkham Asylum’ -- and regrettably, that’s about it really! The End! Finito! Cheerio, Ta-Ta, and Goodbye. Quickly followed by a, ‘See you later, alligator’, and a complimentary ‘Pppttteeeoooo’ sound heard in the Road Runner series of cartoons! Meep-Meep!

Seriously, folks, that’s basically what this story was all about. It was about bang-crash-pow, rather than a detailed-plot accompanied by some emotional subtext. Plus to add insult to injury, instead of getting a hero who prefers to think his way out of a situation, Batman decides to fight his way out of one while turning into a Hollywood hairdresser

Yes. That’s right. I said Batman’s a hairdresser, otherwise known as someone who likes to talk, and talk, and talk, even though he isn’t usually a very talkative person. Yet, for some unexplained reason, he now wants to tell every villain he punches how he feels about them, him, and God knows what else!

Oh, and as for those villains? Well, as much as I loved seeing this great line-up of rascally rogues, including The Riddler, Two-Face, Mister Freeze, Killer Croc,  Solomon Grundy, Firefly, Calendar Man, Doctor Phosphorus, The Mad Hatter, The Ventriloquist, The Scarecrow, Amygdala, and Maxie Zeus, at the same time, they were turned into henchmen, fodder for the hero to slap, which resulted in the conceit being too straightforward, the plot being too un-suspenseful, and the whole issue being too superficial by design.

Part Two) QUESTIONS-QUESTIONS-QUESTIONS:   Have you ever gone to the shops and forgotten to pick up a product you intended to buy?  If so, then now you know what issue 71 of Batman was all about. It was about Batman intending to do one thing (beat up Bane), only to end up doing something else (ouch!). And trust me, folks, when I say ‘else’, I do mean ‘else’, with a capital ‘E’, all because Tom King is starting to construct his stories in a rather bizarre yet repetitive fashion. 

Well, just like the previous episode, issue 70, this one was easy to define (Batgirl recruits allies), difficult to digest (dinner with Bane?), and very nice to look at (once again, great job Jorge and Mikel). In fact, these two chapters were so similar -- structurally, at least -- that I can’t help but wonder what DC are currently playing at!

I mean, with all due respect, as much as I can appreciate what Tom is trying to do with this series -- namely, something new -- in the same breath, he throws around so many silly ideas that nothing truly sticks. Ideas, I hasten to add, which may look good on the surface, but underneath it all, don’t really make much sense. Now to see what I mean, please check out the following questions I asked myself while I was reading this adventure.

  1. When did Batman start using a red bat-signal to call his allies into action? Well, it’s never been done before, has it? So I presume this is something Tom King has come up with for this book alone. Although, I could be wrong! 
  2. Why was Alfred being so compliant towards Bane and Thomas's orders? Seriously, what has made him become so submissive? Is he scared of their actions? Is he doing it to protect Bruce?  Or does it have something to do with... well... whatever? Brexit?
  3. Why did Dick and Jason turn down Batgirl’s request for help when they’re both still superheroes and speaking to Bruce? To some extent, it almost feels as if Tom King was obligated to include them in this book! Or maybe, just maybe, he forgot to pick up their regular titles and figure out their current status-quo? Funnily enough, the same can also be said about Batwoman! 
  4. If Catwoman can cripple Bane with a single kick, why can’t Batman knock him out with a single punch? To me, this doesn’t make any sense at all, especially since Batman is a more experienced crime-fighter and has had a lot more training! 
  5. Why did no one question Bruce when he told them that his Dad was still alive? After all, I don’t think he or Barry has told anybody about the Flashpoint debacle, and if they have, it has never been highlighted in any of the main Bat-books! 

So, as you can see, dear reader, all in all, this issue of Batman was a pretty confusing read. So much so, in fact, that I have a sneaking suspicion that Bruce didn’t wake up from his nightmare and he’s still trapped within his dream! Well, it kind of makes sense, if you think about it, because in a roundabout way, that would explain why he’s acting so strange and why some of the story doesn’t completely add up. Or alternatively, maybe the Bruce we’ve seen over the past few episodes isn’t the real Bruce, but rather, Bane thinking he’s Bruce, while the real Bruce is safely locked up by some other villain in Arkham Asylum.

So, what do you think, dear reader? What do you think is really going on here and did you enjoy reading these two issues?  Personally, I thought they were okay, more or less, but mainly for the art and the number of guest-stars featured.  Either way, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

THE MUSIC:
To some degree, a fair portion of issue 71 revolves around Batgirl recruiting a team of allies so they can help Batman with his quest. So, with that in mind, I’m now going to musically match up this episode with the Blues Brothers' classic, 'Everybody Needs Somebody'.




THE COMPARISON:
When Bruce Lee originally came up with the concept behind his fifth and final film, “Game of Death”, he initially wanted it to illustrate the different styles of martial art. Similarly, when Tom King originally came up with the concept behind issue 70 of Batman, “Part One of 'The Fall and the Fallen'”, he initially wanted it to illustrate how Batman hits different styles of opponent. 

Therefore, comparison made, and may Buddha have mercy on my soul.

THE CONCLUSION:
At the end of issue 71, Batman punches someone in the face because they confronted him about his feelings for Catwoman. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess who he hits? I mean, could it be…

  • Bane.
  • Thomas Wayne.
  • Lois Lane.
  • Max Payne. 
  • Jonathan Crane.
  • Billy Zane.
  • Lil Wayne.
  • Tim Drake.

 Nuff said.

BATMAN #70 & #71 BATMAN #70 & #71 Reviewed by David Andrews on May 29, 2019 Rating: 5

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