Writer: Tom King / Artists: Mikel Janín & Jorge Fornes / DC Comics
My primary objective as a comic book reviewer is to help readers decide whether or not they should pick up a book. The short answer to that question regarding Batman #72 is yes. You should absolutely pick up this book whether you’ve been following it loyally from issue #1, left off somewhere in the middle, or jumped in blindly at some point.
My secondary objective as a comic book reviewer is to stay up to date with the latest developments in the comic book world at-large and reflect on how they may impact the product. In regards to Batman #72, recent developments surrounding the series may actually outshine the significance of this otherwise significant issue itself.
In this review, I’ll touch on both. First, let’s dive into the issue.
The Fall and The Fallen, Part 3
Batman #72 reads like the penultimate episode of your favorite TV show, where all of the loose ends get tied together and the audience starts to get a clearer view of the conclusion that everything has been leading to. The issue is told entirely through monologue as an unidentified character recaps the events of this series going all the way back to issue #1 when Batman was nearly met his death preventing a plane crash. Visually, imagery goes back and forth between flashbacks of some of these key moments and a brutal fight between Batman and Bane.
As a series, there have occasionally been moments in Batman that have been big and impactful, but felt as if they weren’t connected to the overall story we were being promised was being told. Retelling everything in this issue’s context is a fantastic way to tie everything together. Before now, we hadn’t earned this look behind the curtain. Now, 72 issues in, things are starting to come together. I’m talking Gotham Girl, Catwoman, Thomas Wayne, Bane — hell, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Kite Man were involved.
It is revealed that Bane is the driver behind what we’ve seen thus far, trying a new, far more effective approach at breaking the Bat. While everyone else had tried more obvious approaches such as hitting him, shooting him, or inflicting some other physical harm, Bane did the office. He pinpointed Bruce Wayne’s biggest weakness and capitalized on it to devastating effect. I’ve long been waiting for the day that Bruce Wayne, the saddest of us all, got a chance to embrace true happiness. I knew there would be risks and side effects and that it surely wouldn’t come easily. But I was hopeful. With the decision to let Bruce and Selina fall deeply in love with each other, it looked like my dream might finally be coming true. Only, it didn’t.
As issue #50 so famously revealed, Bruce and Selina didn’t get married. As a matter of fact, she left him waiting at the altar because she knew what the rest of the world seemed to know. Batman can’t be happy. The result was a consequence I, and apparently Bruce, didn’t take into account. When you give someone happiness who hasn’t felt it in decades, then suddenly take it away, you’re exposing them to a pain far more severe than the one they initially endured. That’s how Bane broke Batman. By making him whole, just to take everything away again. As if that weren’t enough, it’s also revealed that this seemingly omniscient narrator is none other than Thomas Wayne telling Bane his own plan after piecing it together on his own.
Bravo. BRAVO! Bra-f#^*ing-VO!!!
This issue succeeds at making the heavy lift of making everything make sense. As a matter of fact, it makes me want to go back with a new perspective and re-read the story from the start. For that, this issue is a breath of fresh air a lot of Batman readers have been craving ever since King made the bold choice to take the story off of the beaten path. This is the beginning of the landing we’ve been waiting to see if King would stick. And things are looking good as we prepare to wrap-up the series.
Oh, speaking of….
Tom the King
When Tom King first stepped into the role as the Batman writer he quickly proved himself to be worthy of the task. Not only did he take his own approach to the character, but he did it to an even greater extent with supporting characters such as Bane, the Riddler, and Poison Ivy, to name a few. He made a lot of bold choices with the story that worked out far more than they didn’t. So there wasn’t much concern that he was originally planning on telling a long story over 100-something issues.
Looks like someone upstairs got cold feet… [insert side-eye emoji]
Speculation circling the nerd-o-sphere has been confirmed: DC Comics had decided to end Tom King’s run on Batman at 85 issues. More than 15 short of the original tally when King teased a moment that would “change the character for a generation.”
While King’s run has been very enjoyable during its many high moments, it’s occasionally been a little hard to follow. Especially towards the back-end after the wedding-that-never-was. Readers were always able to hold onto the hope that the story would all come together at the end. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that King will get the chance to tell the story he originally intended to. At least, not in the way that he originally intended to.
Fortunately for us, we still have another 13 issues to go. By design, that should move at a much faster pace to get us to the finish line and then to the winner’s circle of a finale.
Fortunately for the creators behind this series, they’ll likely move on to their own successes as a result of the hard work they put into this. I, for one, can’t wait to see what it is.
P.S. “The War of Jokes and Riddles” needs to be made into an animated movie. That’s a hill I’m willing to stand on for the next 10 years if I have to.
Reading Batman? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.