Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Damian Wayne are near death, being kept stable in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Meanwhile in Arkham Asylum Alfred Pennyworth sneaks Gotham Girl inside to see Roger Hayden, The Psycho-Pirate, whose emotional controlling powers may prove to be able to save the comatose heroine. And somewhere Bane continues ahead with his plan to destroy Batman and his extended family.
There is so much to love about this issue, and the best thing is Batman is actually somewhat of a supporting player in this chapter. But I’ll start at the beginning. The opening scene with Superman inside the Fortress of Solitude is great. And although it’s brief, it’s a testament to Tom King’s writing ability that he is able to encompass the relationship between DC’s two greatest icons in just a few panels. The scene is emotionally charged and true to the characters. The dialog is sparse, but it speaks volumes in between its words.
The best sequence in the whole issue, however, belongs to Alfred Pennyworth, as he sneaks into Arkham Asylum. Showcasing both his multiple skills (in this case classically trained Shakespearean acting) and his sardonic wit, King proves why Batman’s butler is an important part of the Bat-Family; as any vital as any other masked vigilante or super-powered friend. Plain and simple we are reminded that Alfred Pennyworth is a complete and total bad-ass. It’s great and put a literal smile on my face.
There are also great dropped little details and asides that really made this a fun issue to read. It’s a nice reference, so I won’t spoil it, but any DCU fan can appreciate a Scott Free/Mister Miracle reference. You’ll know it when you read it. Good job from King in playing with the DCU sandbox.
And the like last issue, this one ends on a hell of a cliffhanger, where Bane once again has the upper hand and proves how brutal and merciless he can be. King is turning Bane into a truly frightening and dangerous foe for Batman.
David Finch really gets to showcase his ability to draw faces in this issue. He’s so good at shadowy fights and splash-plashes (both of which of course are also spectacularly present), that it’s easy to forget he is as gifted in creating subtlety as he is action. Again the Alfred in Arkham scene is the best example, as both Alfred and Gotham Girl convey so much emotion in they way there are drawn. And I have to got to say, Finch draws what is the best version of Bane I think I have a seen. The scene at the end is intense, frightening, and totally atmospheric. He puts you in that rooftop where it is all about to go down.
Praise has to be given to inker Danny Miki (a longtime collaborator of David Finch) and colorist Jordie Bellaire. Without them, that beautifully prevalent dark atomosphere would not be there, and it would be a completely different read and feel. This is how art teams should work together.
I’ll keep it simple here. Just go out and pick up Batman. The title has been great for years, and Tom King and his revolving door of great artists are keeping that tradition alive. I will be in Gotham next month, and the month after that.