BATMAN #74 & #75

There once was a father and a son, who spent some time together with their mum. Until, one day, they found, away, of escaping to a place in the sun. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Tom King, Mikel Janin, Tony S. Daniel, and published by DC Comics in July, 2019.

TO QUOTE Robert Downey Jr.: Do I want to be a hero to my son? No. I would like to be a very real human being. That's hard enough’.

When we last saw Bruce and Thomas Wayne, the two of them were trekking through the desert so they could find a Lazarus Pit and then use it to revive Martha Wayne, their dearly departed matriarch.

Well, that’s what we were initially led to believe, until Bruce suddenly turns the tables on his father and tries to stop him from performing this sacrilegious act. An act, I hasten to add, that results in one of them being stuck in the middle of nowhere, while the other goes back to Gotham City and continues fighting crime with the rest of his colleagues, such as The Joker, The Riddler, Professor Hugo Strange, as well as Gotham Girl.  Want to know more? Then please pick up issue 74 and 75 of Batman today. In the meantime though, here, check this out… 

If truth be told, I wasn’t completely sold on these two episodes of Batman because they were a pretty mixed affair. On the one hand, the artwork was amazing and they both presented us with some really interesting ideas. While, on the other, something just didn’t feel quite right! Something tonal, perhaps, including the way each installment tried to put across certain underlying traits and attributes that didn’t suit the story or the characters involved. Now to see what I mean, please have a look at the following five points which will elaborate further.  

1) The Bipolar Origins: Halfway through issue 74, it was insinuated that Bruce was a fairly spoilt child and that's why he’s now a very emotional adult! Similarly, it was also insinuated that Thomas had a slightly more disciplined childhood and that’s why he’s now a right dickhead. Although, to be fair, I don’t think these two definitions entirely ring true! If anything, I think they're an oversimplification and very biased in terms of how someone should bring up their children. After all, social, dietary, and physical factors also play into someone’s gradual development, as well as how people are taught to perceive and judge their communal surroundings. I wasn’t too keen on the sly method Bruce used to attack his father either, almost as if this was an additional punctuation towards their bipolar origins, rather than an attack at what he was trying to do. 

2) The World We Live In: Have you ever read an imaginary story published in the fifties or the sixties?  Something like issue 172 of the ‘World’s Finest’, perhaps? (cover-dated December, 1967) Where a young Bruce Wayne was adopted by Ma and Pa Kent and became Clark's brother! Or alternatively, ‘Detective Comicsissue 347? (cover-dated January, 1966) Where Batman passed away and was replaced by a doppelgänger from another universe! If not, don’t worry, because now you can read this bodacious brand of adventure courtesy of ‘City of Bane’. Well, in all fairness, this story does come across as if it were an imaginary story, especially when you take into account that it features a number of alternate and bizarre scenarios that are not akin to the norm. For instance, The Riddler and The Joker are now partners in the Gotham City Police Department, Professor Hugo Strange has replaced Jim as Commissioner of Police, and The Ventriloquist has likewise replaced Alfred Pennyworth as The Wayne’s butler. So, as you can see, things seem pretty wild at the moment. Too wild, some might say, and too disposable as well, considering that this type of story never sticks and usually comes with a time-limit. 

3) The Undynamic Duo: When Gotham Girl was first introduced at the beginning of Tom King’s run (issue 1 - post Rebirth), I was honestly hoping that she would be Batman’s new superhero sidekick and join the rest of the cast. Well, it would be nice if he had some super-powered assistance from time to time, and to some degree, I’m sure she would also give him the opportunity to expand upon the range of adventures he could get involved with. But now, thanks to you know who, I’m afraid to say that this isn't going to happen because she’s been transformed into an irritating, annoying, and clichéd stooge. In fact, she's become so annoying, that during her confrontation with Solomon Grundy and Amygdala, her nervous jibba-jabber seemed more like exposition than charming banter, whereas the fight in itself seemed more like a one-sided demonstration than a dramatic action scene. So, with some benefit of hindsight, it looks like her personality has been perverted and distorted beyond recognition.

4) The Appropriate Artists: Who do you think is a better artist out of Tony Daniel and Mikel Janin? Personally, I like to think that they’re both great, that's for sure, as I particularly liked the way their styles complemented the episodes they each illustrated. Mikel, for instance, has a clean and cinematic style that suits the panoramas and enclosed spaces depicted in issue 74. Whereas Tony (the artist on issue 75), has a bolder and more vivid style that’s both cartoonish and detailed by design.  I also appreciated the more lucid style Mitch Gerads exhibited during the backup feature inserted at the end of the said same issue. Although, in his case, some of his illustrations appeared less conventional and more avant-garde compared to the other two. 

5) The References:  If you’re a fan of comic book references, then I’m sure you’re going to enjoy spotting those featured within these two episodes. Well, to my knowledge, issue 74 had at least two notable references, such as the Russian parable Bruce's Dad told him during issue 57, along with the implication that Thomas killed Talia Al Ghul during her original comic book debut (Detective Comics #411, circa May, 1971). Whereas issue 75, had even more references included throughout its telling; ranging from Dr Double X (an old Batman villain), to Sprang Apartment (in honor of the artist, Dick Sprang), to the Psycho-Pirate (back in Arkham), to Bruce’s Tibetan training (allegedly), to the other members of the bat family (wink-wink), to Lex Luthor's world-dominating shenanigans (yawn). All of which gave this story a nice little touch which was both associative and fun for the fans.

So in conclusion, I would just like to say that these two episodes weren’t bad but they weren’t great either.  Even though the art was nice and some of the ideas showed a lot of promise, in the same breath, there were a few illogical discrepancies which hindered certain characters and my overall enjoyment. Nonetheless, I’m sure the best is yet to come, and I can’t wait to see how things play out next month. 

For this month’s musical match-up, I'm going to align these episodes with the Cat Stevens song, ‘Father and Son’, because of those scenes featuring Bruce and Thomas.

I’m going to compare these two issues to Bizarro World because of the way everything has now been flipped upside down.

Case closed, and comparison made. 

Near the end of issue 75, Bruce Wayne comes face to face with someone he deeply cares for. So, out of the following eight candidates, let’s see if you can guess who this person is? I mean, could it be…

  1. Dick Grayson.
  2. Clark Kent.
  3. Talia al Ghul.
  4. Damian Wayne.
  5. Selina Kyle.
  6. Tim Drake.
  7. Alfred Pennyworth.
  8. Martha Wayne. 

Nuff said.

BATMAN #74 & #75 BATMAN #74 & #75 Reviewed by David Andrews on July 30, 2019 Rating: 5

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