Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Batman #74 Review and *SPOILERS*

Sons and Fathers

Written By: Tom King
Art By: Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire
Letters By: Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 10, 2019

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Batman is in an interesting place. For the first time in a while, there are hanging threads that I’m interested in seeing where they go. That said, several of those have been left behind and instead we got Thomas Wayne and Bruce walking through the desert. Again, there are things about these scenes that I look forward to getting to know better, but as for right now, it’s hard to not criticize this book for leaving those cliffhangers unanswered for so long now. That said, we’ve got a brand new issue and that means we have a brand new opportunity to make this book into something that we all want. So, without further ado, let’s jump into this issue and see where it takes us.

Our issue begins with Bruce and Thomas fighting off another group of Ra’s al Ghul’s henchmen. Thomas runs his blade through their highest-ranking member to finish the fight. Bruce checks on him after the battle and concludes that he will live. The two continue on their journey afterward and the subject of an old bedtime story comes up. The story we read about the animals who were on their way to St. Petersburg is the story in question. For those that don’t remember, it’s about four animals that fall into a pit and is forced to eat each other to survive until there is only one left. The story ends before revealing if the final animal ever got out or not. Thomas talks about when Bruce was a child and how different he was compared to Thomas’ childhood. This is when we learn that Bruce wanted his father to read that folktale every single night. Thomas thought they should get him a different story but his wife was adamant that they continue with the same story.

The two arrive at the Nain Pit, where you can trade a life for a life. Thomas reveals that he had found this out during his own battles with Ra’s in his own world. He speaks to Bruce about his mother and how much he misses her. Bruce asks about how she died and Thomas begins to tell him but stops, telling him that once they finish in the pit, it will be irrelevant. As they descend into the pit, Thomas brings up the book once again. Bruce would fall asleep almost immediately after hearing the story and his father would follow him into slumber. However, it wouldn’t be long until Bruce was screaming and waking himself up once again, leading to another telling of the story. He pontificates about why Bruce liked it and why his mother insisted that he keep reading it over and over instead of finding a different book. As they reach the floor of the pit, Bruce apologizes for keeping his father up all those years ago. He explains why he wanted to hear the story over and over. It was because, even though he knew better, he was hoping that eventually one of them would escape the pit, but they never did. Bruce couldn’t give up hope.

Bruce then lands a punch onto his father and a battle ensues. During this battle we get a quick retelling of the children’s story (which we basically got earlier anyway). As the story ends, Bruce puts his father through the coffin and it is revealed to be filled with only rocks. Bruce reveals that while his father slept, he buried his mother’s body in the desert so his father could never find her. The scene slowly fades away as the two continue their brawl and their argument. We cut to the morning at the top of the pit and see the horse that have remained up there. We zoom in on the pit to eventually see a hand grip the side but we do not see who the hand belongs to. This is where the issue leaves us.

It’s hard to feel anything but indifferent toward this issue. We continued the story that did intrigue me during the previous issue but rather than fill in the blanks that we so desperately need, we get a children’s story about animals eating each other. And what’s worse, we get it twice. It’s infuriating because every single time we start to get closer to any type of development, our writer changes course. I understand having a mystery and slowly unfolding it for the reader to slowly figure it out on their own. However, we haven’t gotten anything even close to an answer about all the burning questions that we have about this book. How am I supposed to enjoy a book about two guys talking when their conversation leads nowhere? It was nice to see Bruce finally seem slightly competent again but we still don’t know why Thomas is doing the things that he is. Possibly, we will never know now. That is so unbelievably frustrating.

Bits and Pieces:

Two men walk through a desert and talk about a child’s folktale. We once again leave a Batman book without any real progress on the questions that we need answered the most. I can appreciate a slow burn but this has been going at a snail’s pace. Slow burns only work if there is actually a burn. This book feels like we are trying to fan the flames of a dying fire until we finally get to the finish line.


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