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BATMAN #72 & #73

[ HOT TO TROT ] 
There once was a brute called Bane, who enjoyed fighting and stabbing and pain. But then, one night, to his, delight, he found out that life was easier being plain. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Tom King, Jorge Fornes, Mikel Janin, and published by DC Comics in June, 2019.

TO QUOTE Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith:I love it when a plan comes together’.

THE REVIEW:
After all these many months of fighting, planning, and being deceitful, we can now finally find out how Bane’s grand master-plan was able to bring down his old arch-enemy, Batman. A plan, I hasten to add, which involves a plane crash, a helpless victim, a gang of lunatics, a loveable cat burglar, as well as a family being reborn.  Or to be more specific about it, the Wayne family! Want to know more? Then please saddle your horse and grab a copy of issue 72 and 73 of Batman today. In the meantime though, here, check this out… 

Part One) BAT DANCE:   As many of you most probably know, Tom King will be leaving this series after issue 85, either due to a gradual drop in sales or other work commitments. In any event, Tom hasn’t got long to go now, six months at best, so in the meantime, we can only hope that he can condense his initial storyline into something we can all enjoy. 

Well, when I say enjoy, I suppose what I mean by this is understand, agree with, or partly comprehend, saying so because Tom is a fairly divisive writer and sometimes his stories aren't to everybody's taste.  Case in point, issue 72 of Batman, a.k.a. part three of ‘The Fall and the Fallen’, largely focuses on how Bane orchestrated a plan to take down the Dark Knight. But, if truth be told, certain aspects of his plan didn’t make much sense, especially if you’ve been a long time Batman fan. In fact, they were so bizarre, I thought it would be a good idea to present you with some of the issues I had with this episode.

1) No Bat for Old Men:  From the looks of it, Bane’s master-plan was a multi-layered plan with a number of different components that worked together in relative harmony. Now, one of these components, involved him orchestrating a scenario where Bruce could see what life would be like without him being Batman (issue 45 to 47, featuring Booster Gold). But, the thing is, Bruce has seen this type of thing many times before (most notably in the Justice League books as well as the other Bat-titles), so I can’t see why this should affect him now. 

2) One Flew Over Doctor Arkham’s Nest: I might be jumping the gun a bit, but I couldn’t really understand why Batman was able to tell that Bane was pretending to be catatonic when nobody else could! Personally, this didn’t feel quite right, and in many ways, was as illogical as Bane relying on mental health patients to fulfill certain parts of his sinister scheme. Such as... 

3) Don’t Make Me Laugh: At one stage of the story, Bane implied that Catwoman has always listened to what The Joker has had to say (issue 49)! I mean, seriously? Can someone give me one example where this has happened outside of Tom King’s run? Or at the very least, show me when someone has been able to change her mind due to an utterance of a single word? Such as in the silly Holly Robinson incident (issue 50)! 

4) Say It Again: Along similar lines, I’ve never known Batman to be affected by the Ventriloquist’s words either! (issue 9 to 13) To me, it’s almost as if Tom believes that a single word, or a throwaway phrase, can somehow change how a person thinks or acts, even if that person is a stubborn and determined individual. 

Now, over on the other side of the spectrum, I did notice a couple of positive aspects associated with issue 72. Aspects which included things like the artwork (which was beautifully illustrated by Jorge Fornes and Mikel Janin in a bold and atmospheric fashion); the initial set-up (which touched upon acknowledging the plane crash featured in Tom’s maiden issue as well as Holly’s involvement with Bane); and the overall structure of the tale (which went back and forth, back and forth, between Bane’s fight with Bruce to key moments featured in previous instalments).  So, by taking all of this into account, I can’t really say that this book was a bad book, but in the same breath, I can’t really say that it was a good one either. 

Part Two) WILD-WILD PEST:   Funnily enough, I can say exactly the same thing about issue 73!  Although, in this instance, the story was an introduction (not a revelation), the structure was broken up by a series of fights (not a series of flashbacks), and the overall style was similar to a western (not an urban adventure). So, on the whole, certain parts of this episode felt rather refreshing to read, up to a point, whereas other parts felt fairly hollow compared to its exposition-heavy predecessor. So hollow, in fact, that you could easily sum up the entire book with a single sentence -- ‘Thomas guides his son through the desert in order to perform a very specific task’ -- plus to some extent, it was a wasted opportunity too.

Well, let’s face it, given its parental premise, I’m sure many of us would’ve preferred to have read an in-depth conversation between a father and a son so we could get to learn a bit more about their ambiguous relationship.  After all, Bruce must have an awful lot of questions to ask his father: Questions surrounding his mother and his general outlook on life.  While Thomas, on the other hand, must have a lot of questions to ask his son: Questions surrounding his tragic past and his hopeful future. But now, seeing them both together like this, traveling through a foreign country without having much to say, seemed somewhat superficial! Or as I just said, a wasted opportunity, even though I don’t want to discredit the amazing artwork provided by Mikel Janin!

Seriously, folks, Mikel is a truly amazing artist, that’s for sure, and I just loved how he constructed each scene with plenty of atmosphere, depth, and emotion. Now, to see what I mean, please check out the great sequence near the end of issue 73, where he illustrated a row of gradually evolving expressions that flowed from panel, to panel, to panel, in order to reveal why Bruce and Thomas are wandering through the Arabian Desert. Similarly, his nuanced based sequences were equally as enjoyable, as they generally ranged from vast cinematic landscapes (very Lawrence of Arabia), fast and fractured fight scenes (very Jackie Chan), as well as interludes set around a campfire (very Easy Rider). Aesthetically, Mikel’s work reminded me of a silent movie, where expressions meant more than dialogue, words, and exposition, saying so while also acknowledging the colorist, Jordie Bellaire, who smartly used a gradient array of hues to emphasize depth within a barren landscape. 

So, all in all, a great job was done by Mikel and co, despite the fact that Tom’s story was confusing in places, superficial in others, yet was still based on a decent idea which in itself needs to be congratulated. What did you think, dear reader? What did you think about these two issues of Batman? Are you a bit like me? Skeptical yet still willing to go along for the ride! Or would you rather wait for issue 85 to come along and hope for the best? Either way, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

THE MUSIC:
For a nice change of pace, I thought it would be a pretty good idea if I allowed Thomas Wayne to select this month’s musical match-up.  So, without any further ado, here’s the song he eventually settled on -- ‘Home on the Range’ by Roy Rogers -- which was the same song Thomas sung every time he had a fight. Lovely!




THE COMPARISON:
On a conceptual level, a large part of issue 72 explained how Bane was able to put together different elements in order to take down Bruce. Similar, in fact, to how someone would put together a jigsaw puzzle -- which is this month's comic book comparison. 

THE CONCLUSION:
At the end of issue 73, we finally find out why Bruce and Thomas are traveling through the desert with a coffin tied to their horse. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess what their motivations might be? I mean, could it have something to do with…

  1. Potatoes.
  2. Getting a tan.
  3. Catching-up on an old family holiday.
  4. Losing at Scrabble. 
  5. Resurrecting Martha Wayne.
  6. Avoiding the use of mobile technology.
  7. Being allergic to hydration.
  8. Selling a coffin.

Nuff said.

BATMAN #72 & #73 BATMAN #72 & #73 Reviewed by David Andrews on June 26, 2019 Rating: 5

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