Batman is fighting his way across Bane's Santa Prisca stronghold. Dozens of thugs stand in his way but he's determined to snatch Psycho Pirate from him and take him back to the US. He wants the mind-mangling villain to restore the sanity he stole from troubled young heroine Gotham Girl.
That's what's happening in the pictures. Tom King's words, though, tell a second story. A story of the Batman and how he came to be. A story framed in a letter to Catwoman who, while apparently a defector to Bane's cause, he sees as his soulmate. A fellow traveller in pain.
When Scott Snyder was writing Batman he provided an origin tweak involving a hologram projector. Much as I enjoyed that run overall, I'm ignoring that sequence - it needlessly complicates the bat coming through the window moment.
Well, King's changes are bigger, making literal the title of the current storyline, I Am Suicide...
It's elegantly written but adds far too much despair to Bruce's journey. The boy was going to slash his wrists but chose not to die when no deity answered his cries to Heaven? Hanging onto his pain, he eventually resolved to dress as a bat and fight crime? I'm not buying that Bruce was quite so broken at age ten; it makes the legend unbearably morbid, discounting Alfred Pennyworth and Leslie Thomkins' efforts to give the boy some comfort.
The artwork guarantees this issue will be staying in my collection, but it's not getting anywhere near my head canon.
Mikel Janín shows us Batman proceeding towards Bane's throne room; running, leaping, tumbling, swimming across nine stunning double page spreads. I'd love to see how King described the scenes in his scripts - did he detail every last brick in the wall, a la Alan Moore, or simply describe the basic scenario and suggest Janín go wild? The carefully composed shots, each one a mini-movie, are nigh-breathtaking, freeing King to give us his take on Batman's beginnings. King and Janín really are a great team, the definition of synergy. Bookending the spreads are a pair of splash pages, with the final page being especially impressive, evoking hell in the way the figures are posed and lit.
Credit must also go to Hugo Petrus, who inks alongside Janín and keeps things looking sharp, while colourist June Chung proves a mistress of atmospherics and texture. And Clayton Cowles' sensitive lettering choices complement the script.
I don't like the big takeout of this issue but this is comics, it's not necessarily going to stick - heck, Batman's in the vicinity of Psycho Pirate, who could be royally messing with his head. And King does put another spin on the abominable 'Catwoman killed 237 people' business from earlier in this arc, which is something...
...yeah, why worry?
King hinted in an interview that Batman doesn't believe Selina did the mass murder an that there is more to it then that also that Saturn Girl an the Legion of SuperHeroes will play a major role in his run an in the DCU all the way to 2019ReplyDelete
That's new to me, his plans for Imra... I expected no more of her in Batman after the tiny cameo, with the story being picked up in a Rebirth special next year - well, I did nag him to write the Legion a couple of years back...Delete
also the Justice League Vs Suicide Squad will have a major Legion connection an even a Villain from the 31st Century as one of the Major Villains eye will not spoil if u dont want to knowDelete
It's OK, I tend to see Legion news pretty quickly. Isn't that what threw you into 'eye' mode these past weeks?Delete
Man, the art in this issue is breathtaking.ReplyDelete
And I don't recoil from King's revelation about Bruce as much as you do. I lost a friend to suicide recently, and this book comes right on the heels of that. If Batman stands as a symbol of moving past that sort of despair and working through it, I think that's a powerful symbol that some people could really use. The idea that Batman *still* has a death wish, and is a manifestation of that, is one I wholly reject, though. But maybe in a once an alcoholic, always in recovery sort of way, it works.
Eh, I just like Bane!ReplyDelete
I've never liked him... Killer Croc wanted to break Batman's back first!Delete
I've my own experience of suicide and just find it really tough to accept such a change to the origin...to me, this isn't so much a hero working past the despair as hanging on to it. Yes, he's channeling his emotions in a good direction, but to me a person moving beyond the despair would end up in a centred place, whereas this Batman is the definition of intensity.ReplyDelete
Still, we're different people with different experiences and perspectives.
Yeah, that's definitely the difficulty with this development. But this week, it really came at the right time for me. We'll see, going forward.ReplyDelete