Ok everyone, after a week off to deal with some family matters, It’s time to get back in the saddle. This week, Tom King delivers one of the most emotional issues of Batman ever, plus the Justice League makes their stand in the face of Doom and the last of the Batman Who Laughs’ Secret Six is born. Ready? Let’s dive in
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Batman #83 – City of Bane Part 9 – Writer: Tom King, Artist: Mikel Janin
Tom King’s run on Batman has been every bit as amazing as any fan could have hoped for. It has featured, among other things, the first real Batman/Catwoman romance since the Hush days, the reemergence of Bane as a serious threat, the introduction of the Thomas Wayne Batman from Flashpoint, the return of Psycho Pirate, and the reintroduction into the public consciousness of Kite Man. I suspect that last achievement will probably rank among the high points for Mr. King.
However, one moment in this run will stand out as the defining moment of Mr. King’s run on this title. That moment is, of course, the death of Alfred Pennyworth at Bane’s hands in Batman #77. This single act is going to have ramifications in the bat-titles for quite some time, and Alfred’s loss opens up many new and intriguing storylines for writers to follow.
Now, those of us who have followed the story have known Alfred is dead since issue #77. One of the few people who has been unaware of this development is Batman himself. In this issue, he finds out. This issue’s dialogue, for the most part, is Alfred’s final farewell message to Batman. He recorded it just after he signaled Batman to inform him that he had gotten away. In his farewell message Alfred explains why he lied. The message begins and ends with a poem by Longfellow. The message is beautifully written and completely heart-wrenching. I am not going to go into much more detail about the issue, except to say that the end of this issue perfectly sets up the fight to come between Thomas and Bruce.
I must before concluding speak about Mikel Janin’s art in this issue. As beautifully written as this issue is, the emotional impact would not be felt as strongly without Mr. Janin’s unbelievably realistic portraits of anguish and anger. Batman has never seemed more vulnerable and human to me as he is here. You can feel the sorrow and fury as the waves of grief wash over him. He faces Thomas with a righteous anger and a resolve that weren’t there before. There are only two issues left to Tom King’s run and teh big finale is fast approaching.
PERSONAL NOTE: I have always tried to keep my personal life out of my professional life as much as possible. If something happens to delay an article or feature because of something personal, I simply admit it and move on. However, this issue of Batman has given me cause to break that rule. A couple of weeks ago my Brother-in-Law passed away unexpectedly. To say the family was in shock would be a massive understatement. I have spent most of my time trying to be strong for the sake of my Sister, my young nephew and the rest of my family. As such, I have not really worked through it myself. While reading this issue, I suddenly started tearing up and by the end of it, I had worked through a lot of what I had bottled inside. I wrote Tom King a private message thanking him for his unintentional help in getting through this tough time. To his credit, he write me back expressing his sympathy for my loss and thanking me for my kind words. This, of course, just served to reinforce what I already knew about the man’s character. Anyway, I would like to use this public forum to again thank Tom King, Mikel Janin, and everybody else involved with this issue for their unintentional assistance in what has been a trying time.
And now back to our regularly scheduled reviews.
Justice League #36 – Justice/Doom War Part 7 – Writer: Scott Snyder, Artists: Francis Manapul and Howard Porter
This absolutely bananas story arc continues barreling along. Doom has won and now the Justice League must make their stand, because Apex Lex and co. are coming to kill them. The Justice League’s only hope is to go down fighting and show the world that they still believe in them. The hope is that connecting the people to the pieces of the Totality that they rescued will help them turn the tide.
Meanwhile, some of the other members of the Legion of Doom discover that they are merely Perpetua’s pawns and she will do with them as she pleases. Brainiac gets transformed into Perpetua’s throne. While the other members of the Legion are restrained and rained of their power, which is then funneled into Luthor.
The end of this issue features one of the coolest scenes ever, as the Hall of Justice LIFTS OFF to face the Hall of Doom. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Scott Snyder and James Tynion have brought the Justice League about as low as they can go. Evil has won out in the hearts and minds of humans and Perpetua seems unstoppable. Yet, in the face of certain failure and probable death, The Justice League decides to persevere and continue the “never ending fight.” This, to me, perfectly encapsulates what the Justice League is all about. I don’t know how this story will end, but the writers definitely have me interested.
Batman/Superman #4 – Who are the Secret Six? Part 4 – Writer: Joshua Williamson, Artist: David Marquez
Finally, after months of speculation, in this issue, the Secret Six get their final member. This issue is a crazy battle throughout the Fortress of Solitude, but it also features the revelation of the Batman Who Laughs’ master plan, and, oh boy, is it a doozy.
First things first, the final member of the Secret Six is Supergirl, which now makes this personal for Superman. So, with her addition, the Secret Six are now officially: Shazam, Hawkman, Donna Troy, Blue Beetle, Commissioner Gordon and Supergirl.
With his team assembled, the Batman Who Laughs can finally put his plan into action. His plan involves using the Fortress of Solitude to open a portal to the Dark Multiverse, where he has converted the Justice League Watchtower into a huge transmitter for his infection. Scarab, formerly known as Blue Beetle, build a tower similar to the one used in Dark Knights: Metal to bring the Watchtower through to this universe. When activated, it can infect the entire planet.
As the issue ends, Superman and Batman are preparing to face off against the Secret Six.
This book is just getting crazier and crazier and I am loving it. Mr, Williamson is jugging cosmic scale forces and still managing to keep the story grounded. The heart of this story is the emotional connection between Superman, Batman and all of the transformed heroes, with Supergirl and Commissioner Gordon adding a personal stake for both of our titular heroes. If, and ,hopefully, when the Batman Who Laughs is stopped, will these heroes be able to return to normal? That is just one of many questions that this series will have to answer as it goes on. For now, though, if you are not yet reading it, jump on board. As the Year of the Villain comes to an end, this is going to be a pivotal title in the resolution of several main event storylines.
Aquaman #54 – Amnesty, Part 5: Lessons Learned – Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Artists: Robson fight Rocha and Jesus Merino
It’s a knockdown drag out fight between Aquaman and the Black Mantamech, with someof Manta’s backstory thrown in for good measure. The ending sets up a big battle for next issue.
Nightwing #66 – Welcome to the Family – Writer: Dan Jurgens, Artist:Ronan Cliquet
This issue finally reveals the truth about Nightwing’s amnesia as the Court of Owls makes it’s move and Dick Grayson is reborn as Talon.
Supergirl #36 – Who’s Laughing Now? – Writer: Marc Andreyko, Artist: Eduardo Pansica
This issue ties into Batman/Superman #4 and fills in the time just before Supergirl is infected and the time just after.
Year of the Villain: The Infected: Scarab #1 – Metamorphosis – Writer: Dennis Hallum, Artist: Freddie E. Williams II
This is the spotlight issue for the Scarab, the infected form of Blue Beetle. This issue details the effects that the infection have on Jaime, both physically and mentally.
He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #1 – Master of the Universes – Writer: Tim Seeley, Artist: Dan Fraga
Produced in association with Mattel, this book features a story that includes every variation of the Masters of the Universe property. The story introduces Anti He-Man, an evil version of the hero who is trying to drain the power from all of the different versions of Castle Grayskull in the Multiverse. The Multiverse’s only hope is a version of Prince Keldor who does not turn into the tyrannical Skeletor. This issues is packed full of guest appearances and Easter Eggs sure to delight MOTU fans. It’s a strange tale, but definitely worth your while.
That does it for this week, come back next week for all the latest from the Year of the Villain and more from the DCU