After a longer than I would have wanted hiatus due to some personal stuff I could definitely have done without, the review train is back on the track. This week, the countdown to Tom King’s final issue of Batman continues, while things get even worse for the Justice League, if you can believe it. Let’s dive in.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Batman #82 – City of Bane Part 8 – Writer Tom King, Artist: Mikel Janin
So, as it has been for every issue since this review feature started, Tom King’s Batman is my Book of the Week. If you have to ask why, then you obviously aren’t reading it. Every issue seems to be a giant game of “Can You Top This?” and the entire run, especially this last story arc, seems to be about seeing how much the DC higher-ups will let him get away with. It’s been a build of a slow build these last few issues to get to this point, but it is finally showdown time.
Batman and Catwoman have gone to Arkham Asylum to take down Bane once and for all. It will probably not come as a surprise that Batman and Catwoman get the better of Bane, but it’s how it happens that may surprise everyone. Batman outsmarts Bane. He challenges him to a fight with no help. No Venom for Bane, no costume or utility belt for Batman. Batman even convinces Bane that Catwoman will not get involved. Bane falls for, and Batman reveals that he lied! He had two batarangs taped to his back, which contain the super venom used by Gotham Girl. Batman injects Bane with the supervenom and Catwoman wails on him before being knocked out. Time for Flashback City folks. In a moment which serves to illustrate perfectly why I will miss Tom King when his run is over, the ending of Knightfall is reenacted, with the roles reversed. Batman is holding Bane over his head about to break his back. Unfortunately, Thomas Wayne decides to get involved and he shoots Bane and Batman. The issue ends with Thomas telling Ventriloquist to fetch the Pirate.
This is the fight we have all been waiting for, and it does not disappoint. The hits are heavy and they come often. But, the best part is the banter. Catwoman in particular has some amazing dialogue throughout the fight scene. The real icing on the cake is Mikel Janin’s art. The fight just pops right off the page and the brutality is conveyed in the powerful imagery.
The end of this issue has me on the end of my seat. Tom King told me at NYCC that it was going to get worse, and I am scared and excited to find out just what that means. There are only three issues left in this wild ride. The next chapter comes out on November 20.
Justice League #35 – Jusice/Doom War Part 6 – Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, Artist: Francis Manapul
Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV’s thorough shellacking of the Justice League continues. Picking up from the last issue where Doom won out as the Justice lEague’s plan failed, Perpetua begins her reshaping of the multiverse by eliminating Earth 19, one of the universes that still favored Justice over Doom.
Meanwhile, the Justice League and their allies from across time are back at the Hall of Justice reeling from their defeat and trying to figure out what to do next. Unfortunately, the tragedy isn’t over for the Justice League just yet. Perpetua and Luthor discover that Hawkgirl is trying to rejoin the rest of the Justice League and Perpetua shoots down the Javelin. As this issue ends, Perpetua send Luthor to kill the Justice League.
Snyder and Tynion have absolutely broken the Justice League. Even eternal optimist Superman seems to be finding it hard to keep up hope. Perpetua’s power is on full display here and she is reveling in it. I don’t know how the League and, indeed, the Multiverse will come back from this, but I can’t wait to find out. The one thing that seems to be clear is that things will have to get a whole lot worse before they can get better.
Francis Manapul does a fantastic job of portraying the hopelesness the Justice League is feeling, due to subtle changes in the posture and their facial expressions. Likewise, a fantastic job is done capturing the euphoria on Perpetua and Lex Luthor’s faces as the bask in the glory of their victory.
How much worse can it get? We’ll all find out together when the next issue hits on November 20.
The Infected: King Shazam #1 – Growing Pains – Writer: Sina Grace, Artist: Joe Bennett
Spinning out of the Superman/Batman series, this one shot focuses on Shazam, who after being infected by the Batman Who Laughs, is now calling himself King Shazam. It does a good job of showing how Billy’s attitude has changed since his infection, as he turns his back on his foster family. Mary, his sister tries to save him as he goes on a rampage, encountering and accosting Atlas, Thor, Rao and Ares before Mary confronts him. In the end, unfortunately, Mary ends up becoming infected, which creates an intriguing new wrinkle to this story.
Harley Quinn #67 – Crisis Killer – Writer:Sam Humphries, Artists: Sami Basri, Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan, Tom Derenick and Trevor Scott
Whew! Why so many artists? Because in this crazy issue, Harley in the real world is trying to get her remaining family to come out for Thanksgiving Dinner. Every time she visits one of her family members, they think something is wrong. In the end, they are all in denial over her mother’s deaths and Harley is left alone in a diner with a Turkey. In her comic world, however, Harley is sick of all the big company crossover, and with Booster Gold’s help, she plans to travel back in time and stop the heroes from winning the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. After stops along the way at Final Crisis and Infinite Crisis, she finally makes it back to the original Crisis, and as she is about to stop Dr. Light from defeating the Anti-Monitor, Booster talks her out of it and she instead provides the “bump” needed to help her focus her power. As the issue ends, Harley is on a bus to the West Coast for Christmas in California.
This comic is insane and hilarious. Do yourself a favor and jump onboard this wild ride. You won’t have any idea where you’re going, but you will have a lot of fun getting there.
That does it for this week’s reviews. I’ll be back next week with another batch.