Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Batman #74 – And Now, We Rise

Written by: Tom King
Art by: Mikel Janin
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 10th, 2019
Reviewed By: J. Dawn

With a final traipse across the desert, we’ve reached our finale to The Fall and the Fallen. This arc has acted as an expository addendum to King’s run, ensuring that readers are caught up and all on the same page before the doors careen off their hinges with the City of Bane. Was this a the conclusion that’ll satisfy and tantalize, or did it fail to build upon the monumental cliffhanger we were last left with? Let’s join our maligned dynamic duo and find out.

Our issue opens in a very familiar fashion. Bruce and Thomas are still making their way through the desert, coffin in tow, as they finish off Ra’s guardians. This sense of déjà vu is amplified as Thomas recounts a certain story that Bruce used to adore…A story that is last seen in issue #57. This is a story that King really wants to emphasize, and he does so with considerable effect. The story of the animals in the pit reflects how differently Thomas and Bruce views their lives and the world around them. To Thomas, this is a morbid tale that reflects his failings as a father…A failing that haunts him to this day. He obliged Martha’s request and allowed Bruce to read the story again and again, despite his suspicions that it was giving him nightmares. He wanted to believe that Bruce would witness this horror and choose to look beyond it. It is a reflection of his “addiction” to Batman, and his inability to be happy in his endless crusade.

However, Bruce’s perception of the book varies greatly. He would read this story and believed that even though it was impossible, that perhaps the ending would change. He clung to this irrational hope, signifying his ability to embrace the light when there is nothing but shadows. I understand many do not enjoy this run and that Bruce’s character has come into question, but to me, this is a wonderful summation of what Batman is. Fundamentally, Batman is a character mired in tragedy and pain, but he never gives up. He always keeps fighting.  No matter what is thrown at him, he’s “still here”. This is capped beautifully by a showdown with Bruce and Thomas. Janin continues his excellent imagery as Batman’s dysfunctional family literally combats itself. While it would have been interesting to see Martha resurrected, I think it is more within Bruce’s character to ensure that her memory isn’t desecrated. If anything, this arc has taught Bruce that he needs to move on instead of look to the past. It is finally time to embrace others…Perhaps Catwoman? I can only hope we get some big scenes in the City of Bane.

Something I’d like to touch on quickly are Bellaire’s colors. The muted tones work well for the bleak story, and the somber clash between father and son is executed with gravitas and weight. I always enjoy Jordie’s work.

Bits and Pieces:
King ties ongoing threads together with The Fall and the Fallen, properly preparing us for City of Bane. King excels at taking minor story points from his run (in this case, the story from issue #57) and reusing them in new ways to make a poignant statement on Batman as a character. With my palate cleansed, I embrace the chaos that Bane is about to deliver.


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