BATMAN #84 & #85

There once was a man called Bane, who had a brain that was manufactured in Spain. But then, one day, to his, dismay, his brain became barren and 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 December, 2020.

TO QUOTE Peter Ustinov: Parents are the bones on which children cut their teeth’.

Once upon a time, in a universe not unlike our own, there was a man named Thomas, Thomas Wayne, who decided to become a gun-wielding maniac because his son was murdered and his wife turned mad.

But then, one fateful day, his outlook on life started to evolve and change when he met three people who gave him a different way of looking at things. Selina Kyle, who showed him compassion and love; The Reverse-Flash, who showed him how to escape from his damaged universe; as well as Bane, who showed him that his descendant has followed in his footsteps and needs to be taken down.

So, what did Thomas do? How did he punish his offspring for being a big, bad, bat? Well, under the circumstances, he did the only thing any red-blooded individual would do. He came up with a devilish plan to damage his offspring’s mind and shatter his soul. Shatter it until he becomes reborn. Or so he thought! Want to know more? Then please pick up issue 84 and 85 of Batman today. In the meantime, though, here, check this out…

Tom King initially began writing this series when it first started to go bi-weekly way back in June, 2016, and since then, his work has unfortunately split the fandom in two. While some say his version of Batman isn’t authentic and doesn’t make sense, others have applauded his originality and his unique vision and style. As for me, though? Well, I suppose I’m somewhere in between, as I like his sense of humor and his poetic way of writing, but at the same time, I don’t like his single-minded efforts and his myopic point of view. Which reminds me...

1) So what did Tom do to piss us off this month? Well, he told a story. But not a creative story that's based on established continuity and associative by design. But rather, he’s written a superficial story which felt more like a game of 'join the dots' than an actual conclusion to a multipart adventure. Issue 84, for instance, was basically Thomas Wayne’s origin in reverse, whereas issue 85, on the other hand, was a fractured resolution featuring most of the key players, ranging from Gotham Girl all the way to Bane. So in many ways, both of these episodes were your typical Tom King tales. Meaning, they were easy to define, simple to read, and difficult to digest. Difficult because they explained how The Reverse-Flash saved Thomas Wayne from the destruction of the Flashpoint Universe in order to help 'our Bruce' live a happier and healthier life! Help him by destroying his current life and prevent him from being Batman anymore! I mean, seriously? Is that what they teach parents in the Flashpoint Universe? To torture their kids until they become happy? And if they don't, what has made Thomas think this way? Without totally blaming his attitude on the death of his son or the corruption of his wife! If anything, I would’ve thought that the opposite would be true, with him wanting to nurture his son’s existence and encourage him into becoming a more solemn figure. Not hurt him until he ‘sees the error of his ways’. 

2) So did we learn anything new about Thomas Wayne after reading issue 84? Well, to some extent, I'd say that I learned two things about him. One, that he formed a friendship with Selina Kyle (the Flashpoint version) which made her seem more like his adopted child than a younger lover. And two, that he gradually descended into madness due to the death of his son (ouch), the murder of Joe Chill (brutal), the corruption of his wife (wicked), and the non-stop murder spree he committed across Gotham City (yuck). Apart from that, though, there’s nothing much more to say! Except that the rest of his origin was a step by step account of him arriving on Earth-0 and then tracking down Bane. There was nothing about his family history. There was nothing about why he chose the symbol of the bat. And there was nothing about how he trained himself into becoming the man he is today.

3) In retrospect, was issue 85 a more satisfying read than issue 84? Yeah, I suppose it was, in part, but only because it tried to resolve as many loose plot-threads as possible. This includes...

  • The Final Fight Between Father and Son: Although, to be fair, I wouldn’t necessarily call this an actual fight to the finish. But rather, a straightforward confrontation that wasn’t very realistic or original. After all, when did Batman start needing Catwoman’s help to take down his adversaries? Especially since it’s the same type of help she’s given him before, wink-wink! Plus along similar lines, when did fighters start taking it in turns to punch and talk and punch and talk? Seriously, is this a thing now? Is this a new type of ‘fight etiquette’ people are conforming to? Ha!

  • The Gotham Girl Resolution: Well, just like Bruce’s fight with his father, I didn’t really like following this part of the story either. Not only because there wasn’t any mention of her mental breakdown (during the last Batman / Flash crossover event) or her subsequent battle with Captain Atom (issue #76), but in addition to this, there wasn’t any mention of how she recovered from her breakdown and lost all of her powers! I mean, when did that happen? After her fight with Damian, perhaps? 

  • The Batman and Catwoman Romance: Unlike the previous two subplots, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one as it was both personal in tone and romantic by design. To some extent, it was kind of like ‘Batman’s happily ever after’, so to speak, because it managed to redefine his relationship with Selina and reclassify their status (I best say no more than that for the sake of spoilers, wink-wink!) 

  • The Alfred Pennyworth Memorial: I don’t care what anyone says, Alfred is not dead and he’s not going to stay dead for more than a year (Eighteen months tops!). So, who wants to place a bet on how and when he’s going to return? 5 to 1 says he will come back with the use of a Lazarus Pit, 15 to 1 says it will be because of a cosmic punch, and 100 to 1 says it will be due to a good writer, ha!

  • Kite Man: For some strange reason, Tom King just loves the character of Charlie Brown (aka Kite Man). In fact, he loves him so much, that he's managed to find a way of including him in most of his stories, even this one, despite not progressing the plot in any way, shape, or form! At best, he was a mouthpiece to talk to, and at worst, he was a disposable cameo in a bar.

4) Which artist is more appropriate for this title? Mikel Janin or Jorge Fornes? From my point of view, I suppose that all depends on what you want to see in a Bat-book! Well, if you’re a fan of big, bold, and brazen storytelling, then Mikel is your man (100%). But if you prefer moody, mannered, and mysterious storytelling, then Jorge is most definitely for you. Either way, both artists were really great at illustrating their respective chapters — issue 84 for Jorge and issue 85 for Mikel — and I will miss their work on this title now they’re moving on to other projects! So long, Mikel, Jorge, and Tom, as it's been a pleasure.

For this month’s musical match-up, I’m going to align this adventure with the Cat Stevens’ classic, ‘Father and Son’, because more or less, that’s what they’re both about. 

I think it‘s only appropriate that I compare these two comics to ‘Child Services’  because of Thomas Wayne’s bad parenting skills.

Say no more.

At the end of issue 85, Bruce Wayne turns to his (kind of) father and says to him, what? What do you think he says? I mean, could it be something like…

  1. You’re not very nice.
  2. You’re going to pay for this.
  3. You’re a prat.
  4. You’re f#cked
  5. You’re not my father.
  6. You’re not going to watch ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.
  7. You’re wearing the wrong pajamas.
  8. You’re a very bitter person.

Nuff said.

BATMAN #84 & #85 BATMAN #84 & #85 Reviewed by David Andrews on December 31, 2019 Rating: 5

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