BATMAN #80 & #81

There once was an avenging angel, who was always ready, willing, and able. But then, one day, to his, dismay, he got beaten up by the film star, Betty Grable. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Tom King, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, and published by DC Comics in October, 2019.

TO QUOTE Muhammad Ali: If you lose a big fight, it will worry you all of your life. It will plague you until you get your revenge’.

He’s back, Batman is back in Gotham City, and this time he’s going to do whatever it takes to punish the guilty and save the innocent.

So far, both he and Catwoman have managed to take down Two-Face, Professor Pyg, Hush, The Mad Hatter, and Kite Man, amongst others, which leaves them both now having to face one final obstacle! Or should that be, three final obstacles? Gotham Girl (the metahuman maniac), Thomas Wayne (the deadly daddy), and Bane (the vile villain). 

But can they do this? Can they accomplish this toxic task without anyone getting killed? After all, Alfred has already bitten the biscuit and Damian is going to get stuffed! Or is he? To find out, please pick up issue 80 and 81 of Batman today. In the meantime, though, here, have a look at this…

Have you ever lined up a pack of dominoes and then deliberately pushed them over? If so, then in many ways, you’d know exactly how I felt about reading these two episodes of Batman. On the surface, everything looked visually bold and dramatically stunning, but underneath it all, it was also overly simplistic and deliberately staged. So much so, in fact, that the only real way I can review this adventure is by doing it, question and answer style…

1) So what was so off-putting about this storyline? Well, I suppose the first thing that comes to mind revolves around the handling of certain characters and the staging of certain scenes. Specifically, those scenes which featured Batman’s Rogues Gallery, on account of Tom King persistently depicting them as if they were a gaggle of obedient henchmen! But no, they’re not obedient and they don’t follow orders! Nobody’s orders! Not even their own! If anything, the opposite is more than likely as they normally possess a rebellious nature (Hush), a bad attitude (The Mad Hatter), and a self-destructive tendency (The Riddler). I would also like to know when Thomas Wayne started to form a relationship with Claire Clover? (AKA Gotham Girl) I mean, we know they must have gotten together before issue 75, or thereabouts, and then became friendly sometime thereafter! But what we don’t know, are the circumstances surrounding their union and how deep it actually goes! From the looks of it, it seems like a fairly paternal friendship, yet I could be mistaken!

2) So what was this story all about? Well, if truth be told, there wasn’t a lot to this story because it mainly comprised a series of fight scenes and a series of elaborate explanations. One of these explanations told us how Bruce allowed himself to be broken in order to fight back against his oppressors (which sounded completely daft). While another explanation told us why Bruce and Selina intercepted that drug deal depicted in issue 79, a drug deal that focused on a shipment of stolen venom that originally belonged to Bruce (which was equally elaborate). As for the fights, though, well, in their case, they either fell into one of two categories: Fight one, generally consisted of a one-sided skirmish where Bruce or Selina would take on a member of the Rogues Gallery, such as Hush, Croc, etc, whereas fight two, was mainly between Thomas Wayne and numerous members of the Bat-family, including Batwoman, Orphan, Duke, Huntress, Batgirl, Tim, and Damian. Now, from my point of view, I didn’t like any of this because most of the fights adhered to certain preconceived story requirements (rather than being based on each character’s abilities), while most of the explanations, on the other hand, seemed deliberately staged and unnecessarily long-winded (rather than being based on pre-existing continuity). Admittedly, I am being pretty vague with all of this in order to avoid revealing too many spoilers. But what I will say, is that I didn’t like any of the more ‘provocative fights’, wink-wink, the peculiar connection between Gotham Girl and venom, spit-spit, as well as Bruce’s abysmal justification for slapping Tim in issue 71!

3) What? What was so bad about Bruce’s reasons for slapping Tim? Come on, spill the beans and let us know something! Otherwise, I might cry like a git! Okay then. I will say a little bit more, but only because his rationale for hitting Tim was so, so stupid. Basically, Bruce and his family have developed a secret system -- I repeat, a secret system -- in which they communicate through actions rather than words. So when he punched Tim in the face, meme style, he did it with the intent of telling Tim and the rest about what they should do next, instead of punishing him for what he said previously. It does sound silly, though, but that’s what we’ve got here. A silly explanation for a silly story that is trying to sound serious!

4) Did John and Klaus’s style of artwork suit Tom’s style of storytelling? Yes, yes it did, because their bold and beautiful illustrations were evenly paced, appropriately atmospheric, and gave Tom’s story a larger than life cinematic perspective. For instance, in issue 80, the two of them drew a very captivating scene where Batman and Hush faced off against each other as if they were starring in a Spaghetti Western. Whereas, in issue 81, they drew another great scene which depicted numerous members of the Bat-family ganging up against Thomas Wayne! Although, in this scenario, the style of the scene was more like a Film Noir than a western shootout, with a touch of off-panel shenanigans to make things seem even more suspenseful. In addition to this, I would also like to complement Tomeu Morey’s lavish color palette because his golden, glamorous, and gorgeous hues consistently complimented John’s bulky visuals and Klaus’s scratchy inking style. As a matter of fact, both of these books looked so, so good, I'd love to see this current artistic-team pop up more often.

For this month’s musical match-up, I’m going to align this adventure with the John Lennon song, ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’, because that’s exactly what Batman has to keep in mind while he’s taking back the city.

I previously compared these two issues to a pack of dominoes being deliberately stacked up and toppled over. So, if the cap fits, why not wear it? Say no more.

Near the end of issue 81, Thomas Wayne asks Arnold Wesker to get him something after his fight with the Bat-family. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess what he asks for? I mean, could it be…

  • A roll of bandages.
  • A cup of tea.
  • A bag of cocaine.
  • A potato.
  • A bottle of perfume.
  • A shovel and a guitar.
  • A prostitute.
  • A better comic book.

Nuff said.

BATMAN #80 & #81 BATMAN #80 & #81 Reviewed by David Andrews on October 29, 2019 Rating: 5

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