Writer: Tom King / Artist: Travis Moore / DC Comics
Issue #61 of Batman is going to be the first of six one-shots that are a follow-up on the huge cliffhanger that ended the last issue. At least, that’s according to King’s Twitter feed.
To address the elephant sitting on my living room couch as I write this, this decision will likely get some mixed reviews. On one side of the argument, it requires quite a lot of patience from readers to drop the bomb of Thomas Wayne (maybe?) showing up and putting Alfred and Batman to sleep then not provide any clarification for a couple of months. On the other end, the individual stories will likely still add context to the larger 100-issue run that will be greatly appreciated in hindsight. Only problem here is that, again, this requires quite a lot of patience from the reader.
Now that we’ve crossed that bridge. Let’s dive into issue #61. After accepting the letdown of not finding out WTF—short for “what the frick”, for our family-friendly readers—happened last issue, King takes us into a story that’s overall a bit ambitious, but still interesting.
If you’ll recall issue #38 of Batman, the story centered on a boy who’s life was perceived to be a reflection of a young Bruce. He was the child of a wealthy Gotham family who was suddenly an orphan after they were murdered. Seeing his own life repeating itself before his eyes, Bruce steps in to help the boy, Matthew, only to learn that he killed his parents himself to follow in Bruce Wayne’s footsteps.
It was a terrifyingly enthralling issue that you should go back and read if you haven’t. Even if you have, read it again. Issue #61 follows up on that. For most of the issue, we’re following a young Bruce Wayne after his parents’ deaths. We see how the grief changed him and stripped away his innocence.
But then things get more than a bit confusing, as I said earlier, as Inspector Gordon is seen on a roof talking to Batman about Bruce Wayne’s parents being killed. Wait… what?
Well, the Shyamalan-esque twist of this issue is that we’re actually watching Matthew deal with the death of his parents and realizing just how deep his obsession with the Waynes goes. He’s even sporting new “Thomas” and “Martha” scars on his cheeks that he presumably put there himself. While this issue continues to show us how differently Bruce’s life could’ve turned out—which makes us appreciate him even more—the twist comes so suddenly that you might develop a crick in your neck.
This doesn’t happen often, but this is one of the few issues where I think King missed the mark. At least, that’s what my present bias is telling me. Depending on how the story develops, this could all come together in a pretty bow. But for now, my rating for the issue reflects what I do [and don’t] know. This is a cool continuation of Matthew’s story, but I’m not sure it’s deserving of an entire issue. Especially not after being left with one of the bigger and head scratch-inducing cliffhangers of this series.
7.2 out of 10
Enjoying Batman? Check out BNP’s other reviews here.
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