Written by: Tom King
Art by: David Finch, Sandra Hope, Matt Banning, Jordie Bellaire and John Workman
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: August 3, 2016
I have been enjoying Batman more and more with each passing issue and it's not because of Batman. Nope, I have fallen in love with Gotham and Gotham Girl and can't wait for a nice long run with these two crazy kids as Batman's side...what's that? Last issue's cliffhanger. Well yea, it didn't look great for our heroes, but I'm sure that their run-in with Psycho Pirate will work itself out, right? I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Well, I guess that's why we are here. That and to decide if the issue is good by assigning a number to it at the end and then moving on to the next one. Boy, I am getting sad now. On to the review...
The issue opens up with a bloody scene. Not a bloody good scene...just a bloody scene. Actually, it's a pretty damn good opener as well as Batman is at the scene of last week's cliffhanger. The problem is that there are a couple of big characters nowhere to be found and most of the remaining ones are straight up dead. Dead by the hands (or eyes?) of a very super powered character.
We then get to see said character in the next scene and Tom King makes me fall in love with him all over again. Yes, I'm talking about Gotham and he is already trying to make things right by saving what appears to be a suicidal jumper. In a great callback, he tells the man all about fear and how to defeat it just like Batman told him as a kid. Unfortunately, Gotham is having one horrible day and the guy turns out to be one of these Monster Men wackos blowing up the city. I guess all the bridges are taken care of, huh?
It's then off to the Batcave where Batman has taken Gotham Girl for some R&R which includes another round of Alfred being a real fucking asshole. I'm sorry if you disagree, but I've had enough. I hope that Tom King has something up his sleeve with how he is portraying Alfred because if this is just Pennyworth being Pennyworth, I hate it. I HATE IT!!!! I have some hope as we finally get a little Duke Thomas and he seems to be the light to Alfred's darkness and comforts Gotham Girl.
Unfortunately, duty (and Batman) calls and Duke has to get to work figuring things out as Batman confronts Gotham. The new Superhero is still trying to make things right, but as Batman tells him, he is just going to make things worse. He does destroy the Batmobile in anger, but then flies off when Batman asks him about the 27 guys he killed. 27?!?! Remember that number.
This is where the story gets a whole lot of exercise jumping to conclusions. Duke figures out that Amanda Waller and her Task Force X is involved by adding up dog tag numbers. It's a cool thing on Duke's end, but why would Amanda Waller set things up this way? Why would you leave any sort of clue as to what's really going on?
We see that Batman is going to go right to the source for answers and in the best scene of the comic, shows the reader (and Sam Lane) how badass he really is. Amanda Waller remains cool as a cucumber and after watching Batman smash Lane's face into a concrete wall, explains why they are doing what they are doing. I understand the why (it's the age old "Does Batman create his own villains and trouble?" argument), but the plan with Psycho Pirate and Hugo Strange still seems a bit off to me. Oh well, it looks like Waller and Batman are teaming up to take both of them down and that sounds like a whole lot of fun to me.
The scene ends with Waller telling Batman that 28 of her men were killed. 28?!?! But I told you to remember 27! What gives? The issue ends with the reader finding out what happened with this one extra guy and it leads to a really gut wrenching scene that just might be the beginning of the end for one of my new favorite characters. It breaks my heart to tell you that I loved every bit of this ending scene and am 100% into this story.
It really feels like Tom King is exploring the whole "One Bad Day" concept on a super powered level. I've tried not to spoil too much, but I'll tell you that Gotham City is killing Gotham the hero and it looks like he is about to fight back. In the background, it looks like Tom King is also showing us that a dark city like Gotham can only ever be saved by a Dark Knight like Batman, but he is going to have his work cut out for him this time.
David Finch keeps upping the ante in the art department every issue and while he still seems to be letting the story get most of the limelight, the art this week kicked ass. It's gritty, dark and emotional which matches the tone of the book so well.
Bits and Pieces:
This issue shows that Tom King has a little more in store than just giving us a book with heroes and villains chasing each other around. Even the concept of "villain" is thrown into a gray area by how you look at things and Batman is caught right in the middle of it. Right now it's Gotham vs Gotham and I'm not sure who is going to come out on top.