Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Batman #57 Review


Dead End

Writer: Tom King
Artist: Tony Daniel, Mark Buckingham, Andrew Pepoy, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 17, 2018

I have been enjoying Batman a little more since the end of the Cold Days arc, but that may be a bit of a backhanded compliment.  Yea, I am not a fan of this run, but I try not to let that bias my opinion on an issue-by-issue basis.  So, going into this Beast of Burden finale, I am breathing in deep, clearing my head and jumping in.  How was it?  Let's find out...



The issue opens with a nine-panel folktale, The Animals and the Pit.  This is a pretty famous story by the Russian writer, Alexander Nikolaevich Afanasyev and later translated by Leonard Arthur Magnus.  It is being read to the young Anatoli Knyazev by his father and it's a poignant thing knowing what happened to the man at the end of the last issue.



As far as the folktale goes, it looks great in a cartoony way that some may be thrown off by, but I really liked.  However, it ends up being one of these things that doesn't quite click for the story.  I tried to make it work in a bunch of ways and while I see a bit of where Tom King might be going with it, it just isn't that good a fit.  Why didn't he make his own story instead of forcing in a public domain one from the 1800's?  Usually, I could just chalk it up as something I may not be getting and move on and enjoy the rest of the issue, but sadly, there isn't much else going on here.



Between folktale pages, we get Batman and the Beast fighting.  No dialogue save grunts and groans.  Just fighting.  It's brutal, but it also gets very boring.  It goes on until Batman takes the Beast down...and leaves him for dead.  Yep, Tom King is aping the original Ten Days of the Beast by Jim Starlin by having Batman leave the Beast to what can only be a cold, hard death.

I'm sure there will be the usual spin doctors out there telling me that it's the weather that kills him not Batman.  BULLSHIT!!!  Others will say that Batman already did this once in the sewers of Gotham.  First, that was retconned later (which is why he was still alive here), but even then, it throws away the desperation that Batman faced in the original story.  The KGBeast had killed almost a hundred people and Batman knew that if he turned the Beat in, he would just be sent back to the USSR to kill again.  It was a decision that took four issues and many lives to make and still, Batman wasn't proud of it.  Here, he does it out of anger and Tom King seems to take glee in making it into just a badass moment.  Just the fact that Batman doesn't want KGBeast to tell him who hired him at the end shows that he went all over the world, risked his life over and over just to cripple the Beast and leave him for dead.  Nothing more, nothing less!  A lot of people have praised this Batman run for humanizing the character and making him more than a brutal hero who just punches people.  Well, he just left a man for dead after breaking his neck.  I guess being human is only about anger, death and pain because that's really all we've been getting in this book.

Also, I know that some (most?) of the other reviewers will claim that thinking Batman actually left the Beast for dead is silly and Batman will show his hand later.  No, Tom King will show his hand depending on how people react to this issue.  There is a good chance that King will change it later, but that doesn't change what is in the here and now!  Plus, any reviewer who claims that are undoubtedly the same ones who said people were stupid after the failed wedding because everyone should have known it would never happen.  Please stop making excuses for this book!!!!



Tom King seems to write in a "fill in the blanks" style.  Take the last issue for instance.  Why did the Beast's trail lead Batman to Kanto?  I know Bronze Tiger told him to go to him, but why?  What was the connection between KGBeast and Kanto?  Where was Kanto?  How did Batman end up tied upside down, almost on the wrong end of a hand saw?  We probably will never find out and for some, that is just fine.  I'm not in that camp.

I bring this up because after Batman cripples the Beast, he turns around and leaves.  You know, like the badasses in movies walking away while everything explodes around them.  What about KGBeast's father?  Batman has no idea he is dead.  If you actually think about it, the big surprise would be that KGBeast is even at his father's house.  He hadn't seen him in over 25 years and I can only guess that Batman was heading to question his father in case he had heard from him.  He just turns around and leaves, though, and that really bothers me.  What if he was tied up in the house?  What if he was dying and Batman could have saved him?  Tom King just used him as another prop, there only to force some feels for KGBeast and then threw him on the scrap heap never to be referenced again.  Again, this points to the fact that Batman was only ever interested in leaving the Beast for dead.



By the way, all of this stuff is really just icing on the cake because the real issue here is nothing much happens in this entire issue.  Have a chuckle at all the "clever" and "funny" grunts that pepper each panel of the fight.  Tweet Tom King how the script must have been hilarious to read when he wrote it.  Do whatever you want...I will just sit here dumbfounded that this sort of thing not only goes on but is praised.  I keep remembering Rob Liefeld telling the previous Batman writer that he gets away with things because of the character he's writing and not much else.

The issue does end with a "My Mom's name is Martha too" kind of moment that just made me more angry at this whole bit of nonsense.  Why does Batman have to always have something similar happen during his childhood to all the villains he faces?  I'm really scared that we will find out that little Bruce Wayne loved the Brady Bunch growing up thus making me his next villain!!!

I mentioned in my review for the last issue that this book was getting lazy, but little did I know I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg.  A public domain folktale and a fight scene are what we get here.  The art was great throughout, but that was it.  Oh yea, Tom King also ruined Batman for me! I hope there is more to this so-called second act of this story than this.



Some side notes:  I can't wait to see how Dan Didio is blamed for this!  How many characters is Tom King going to kill or cripple before the madness ends?  What is Jason Todd going to think when he finds out about this?  Will Batman ban himself from Gotham or is this just a "What happens in Russia..." type of thing?  300 Clicks = 187 Miles!!!

Bits and Pieces:

A public domain folktale shoved into an extended fight scene that ends with Batman doing something he should never do!  This issue was infuriating beyond the lack of a story and while I'm sure some will praise it, I found it appalling.

3.5/10

8 comments:

  1. Great review. Thanks.

    "I'm the world's greatest detective so i will not interrogate you to find out who hired you. Instead i will break your neck and leave you to the death."

    Sorry to say this but sometimes King's Batman looks really stupid. Why he didn't even come to this house with some snow motorcycle or something like that? And lots of things left unexplained.

    Also matching Batman with the fox in the fairytale is just so wrong. Batman did not harm any of his sidekicks on purpose.

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    1. Yep...the fairytale is forced in! Plus, not getting the information from KGBeast just shows that this Batman went from one side of the world to the other, not to find out who the person was behind his misery, but just to cripple KGBeast and leave him for dead. This is not the Batman I love and shows once again that Tom King thinks being human is death, murder and anger.

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    2. Jim you are spot on with this review man. Jason should show the fuck up, sucker kick Bruce in the face and tear that damn bat Symbol off his chest and kick him out of Gotham. Bruce:"But Jason, he ruined Dicks life", Jason: yeah just like your Boy penguin ruined mine and Tim's life. King is the worst, the universe has the worst version of Batman I've ever read. This issue is Trash, it goes out if it's way to make me hate Bruce even more than Kings previous issues on Bruce.
      3/10

      It's a shame Tony Daniels art is wasted on a King issue.

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  2. Thanks for the review. It's refreshing that at least someone is honest about Kings run.
    I feel the same, that's not Batman. First he makes him a crybaby over Catwoman and now a murderer.

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  3. You are mentioning everything, why I also didn’t like this issue. I think many fans& unfortunately also some reviewers are praising this issue, because this way they got some kind of revenge for Dick, but they are totally ignoring, that Bruce basically turned into a murderer this issue& also acted pretty dumb. I can see Bruce brutally beating up his enemies, but he never leaves someone to die like that. It’s just wrong& doesn’t do his character justice,

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    1. yep, pretty much ruins the character for me

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  4. A review that's (considerably) meatier, more thoughtful and more enjoyable than the comic it's considering. Good job. I just wish I could say the same to Mr King in the unlikely event I ever meet him.

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