Crazy? Insane?Written by: Tom King
Art by: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Scott Hanna, Marcelo Maiolo and Deron Bennett
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: September 7, 2016
The Weird Science Get Fresh Crew has a joke that if Eric ever gives a book a perfect score, we will
close up shop and start doing something else...like become a world famous song and dance team. I, on the other hand, will give out a 10/10 to a comic that blows my mind, but I agree with Eric when he asks, "Where do you go from there?" Well, Batman #5 blew my mind, I gave it a perfect score and now that issue #6 is here, I'm worried I might have painted myself into a corner. What if I like this issue even more? What if something in this issue sheds new light on the last? Maybe Eric is right and I should start working on my "Me and My Shadow" routine. Before I go to such extremes, I will at least read and review this issue. How was it? Let's find out...
The issue opens up with Gotham Girl cutting her hair and telling her brother, Hank, a joke. What What??? If you have been reading, you know that Hank is dead along with knowing who landed the killing blow. Spoiler alert...it was Gotham Girl, herself. (note: I have finally conceded that the final death blow was indeed delivered by Claire. That doesn't mean I have to like it though!) Now, I was trying to get my bearings because the end of last issue did promise a Year One Gotham girl story, so could this be a flashback? Would Tom King be giving us some more Gotham before finally putting him to rest? The answer is a big, fat NO! What he is giving us is the aftermath of Hank's death and it's hitting Claire hard. Like Brittney Spears cutting off her hair hard. Yea, it's that bad!
We then cut to the next day and see one of my favorite new villains, Colonel Blimp! We don't get much of him and what we do get is your standard fare...a snazzy dressed villain in a blimp stealing a submarine. If I had a nickle... This is actually one of the things I have liked most about Tom King's Batman run so far, it has a really good sense of humor that I sadly think is being overlooked. This is something that Grayson fans already know ("Agent 37...") and hopefully everyone will now.
The humor is also a great juxtaposition to what Claire is going through. By now, it is very obvious that she is in a crazy, delusional state of denial about what happened to her brother. As she easily takes care of Colonel Blimp (ha!), she continues talking to Hank, but now the talk goes from goofy to downright heart breaking. Remember, Hank was always Claire's hero, her Batman, but she also recently lost her Mom and Dad as well. That's a whole lot for anybody to take, whether she's a superhero or not.
All of this is not being ignored by the other heroes in Gotham City. Tom King uses Duke to remind us of what is at stake when Gotham Girl uses her powers like this and also to show us that Batman is well aware of what is going on. Of course, black hearted Alfred is back to business showing no emotions at all as he puts away a Batsuit that I really hope was the one he wore last issue!!!
The issue continues with a gorgeous spread of Gotham City and then a call back to another crazy, awesome villain, Captain Stingaree! Everything here matches up closely to the 70's character, but instead of his brothers being dressed up as Batman as a trap, he is here to continue showing us Gotham Girl's troubles. After she saves one of Stingaree's brothers, Batman shows up and offers help, but Claire flies away. She flies away, but not before showing that everything is not as happy go lucky as she is trying to pretend it is.
After a nice little bit between Alfred and Batman and one of my favorite D-List villains showing up, Batman finally confronts Gotham Girl head on and asks her why she is helping Gotham City. The answer and what follows actually made me shed quite a few tears. Damn you, Tom King! Why do you want to make me cry every two weeks?!?!? Let's all take a moment to collect ourselves. Okay, I'm back. I just had something in my eye. That's right...something in my eye.
The issue ends with Batman going to Amanda Waller and we find out what Hugo Strange was up to, where Psycho Pirate is right now and who Batman will have to face to get the revenge/justice/cure for Claire that he desperately wants. However, next up is the Monster Men and I can't wait for all of these stories. I am 100% onboard.
Tom King is killing it here. He is using the bi-monthly shipping schedule to take his time and really build an emotional connection between the reader and his characters. That pays off here in spades as I not only care the world for Claire, but also find myself getting emotional over Batman as well. He isn't just the Dark Knight anymore, but also a vulnerable and caring guy who wants to help everyone...not just save them, but actually help them. Kudos to King for melting my icy heart.
David Finch takes a breather this issue and I can't say that there could have been a better substitute than Ivan Reis. His art is awesome, but it also fits the style that Finch has laid out on the book so far. Opening up the cover was not a jarring affair and from the first panel on, it was business as usual and with art like this, business is booming!
Bits and Pieces:
While it would be hard to top last issue's epic conclusion to Gotham's story, Tom King gets very close this week. I love Gotham Girl and seeing her in such a bad place was gut wrenching, but only lead to a great moment where we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, that tunnel is going to lead Batman to some pretty bad places, but that's the fun of it all, right? The story, characters and art (by Ivan Reis this week) are top of the class and this issue is just one more reason that Batman is my favorite Rebirth book. Now, I have to go find my tissues.