Writer: Tom King
Artists: Tony S. Daniel, Mitch Gerads
“City of Bane” starts here in this extra-sized anniversary issue that has a very odd start. Batman #74 ended with Bruce and the Flashpoint reality version of his father Thomas battling in the bottom of a pit in the middle of the desert. Bruce ends up being the only one who leaves the pit… Or so I thought.
This entire issue contains some head-scratching moments that’ll leave you a bit confused until you reach the climax of Batman 75. Even then, you’ll most likely be left with more questions than answers. Though, I think the first page answers a lot of questions right from the get-go, as all that page contains is rain and text that only reads “Later”. Then you flip that page to see Riddler and Joker are GCPD cops and the Commissioner is Hugo Strange. That seems a little off, doesn’t it?
Buddy cops Riddler and Joker receive a report from Commissioner Strange about a double murder at 2020 Sprang Street, apartment 02. I’m sure you can guess who’s responsible because of all of those 2’s. Strange flips on the Bat-signal and of course, Batman appears – but it’s Thomas Wayne! Instead of Robin, he has Gotham Girl, who King has remembered again – for better or worse.
There’s a scene where she’s doing a monologue while fighting and the dialogue just isn’t great. Tom King tries to go for a Bendis-like dialogue style where characters will stumble on their words and lose their train of thought mid-sentence like actual people do. When King does it, though, it just comes off as too awkward and a chore to read. In some instances, his repetitive, cumbersome dialogue actually added more life to stories/characters. But here, I didn’t get that vibe. Maybe I’m just tired of King’s writing at this point or it really wasn’t properly executed.
Despite that scene, the rest isn’t bad. As I said, you’ll be confused for a bit. The jump from “Father/Son brawl in the desert” in 74 to “The villains run Gotham and everything is chaotic” is pretty Jarring. Though it is a nice surprise for me. King could’ve started this story from the beginning, but he instead threw us right into the middle of it. It seems he’s taking the more “non-linear” approach with “City of Bane” and I think that was a good idea. A lot of great writers have done this before and have gotten away with it nicely. I just immensely hope this story as a whole ends up being great. I’ve enjoyed most of King’s run and I hope he sticks the landing on what seems to be his grand finale on Batman.
And hey, if the story is lackluster, the art should hopefully be amazing. Tony Daniel is back to draw “City of Bane” in its entirety and Mitch Gerads did work on this issue, too. Daniel’s pages are – as usual – beautiful. He draws the majority of this issue and I really enjoyed everything he did, though there was really nothing new. There was no big page or moment that really stuck with me. Of course, that doesn’t mean it was bland art. I think it’s because I’m so used to how Daniel draws Batman and all of his supporting cast and villains. Action scenes are great, pages, where it’s just characters talking, are done well and the expressions on each person’s face are appropriate and look believable. Gerads pages were the ones that stood out to me.
During his pages, there’s a conversation happening between two people as they discuss Gotham and its current state. As they talk, Gotham’s new status quo is expertly showcased by Gerads. Professor Pyg is a cop who handles things in his own vile way. Victor Zsasz is just casually greeting pedestrians as they shriek in fear. Firefly and Killer Moth are firefighters taking a smoke break. This is the kind of stuff I like to see in a comic like this. Gerads shows the reader just what Gotham’s new atmosphere is all about and how radically different things are for the people involved.
I have a lot of hope in Tom King, Tony Daniel and all else involved with this story arc. I am a bit nervous because of a recent comment by King where he stated that he’s going to do something that will change Batman “forever”… Or until another writer comes in and retcons it. Just in case. Here’s to hoping that City Of Bane knocks it out of the park and Batman 75 is the start of something wonderful.
Batman #75 may confuse readers at first, but once they realize what's going on, they may very well be fully on board to see what happens next. Tom King starts this arc off in a unique way and Tony Daniel, with Mitch Gerads, do a solid job in the art department. Despite a few flubs in dialogue, Batman 75 is a pretty good issue that makes me excited for the next issue.