The lunatics have taken over the asylum. That’s a story we’ve seen many times in Batman comics. This time, though, said asylum isn’t Arkham, it’s Gotham City itself.
Bad cops are the norm – very bad cops. And the police commissioner doesn’t exactly inspire trust.
And the Batman?
He’s Thomas Wayne, parallel world pop of this earth’s Bruce Wayne.
And he has a sidekick.
As for Bruce Wayne, he’s climbing a mountain.
Yeah, again. How many times must Batman seek out one of his old mentors? This part of Tom King’s extra-sized City of Bane opener was the least interesting to me. Bad enough it’s the mystic teacher bit again, but we get an extended anecdote meant to resonate with the main action – it’s a bit of a King cliche and a tad tedious.
Much better is his dialogue, and the way he dips into Batman’s back catalogue of baddies. Here, as well as the inevitable Joker, Riddler and Two-Face, we get the likes of Dr Double X, Mr Zsazs, the Ventriloquist, Firebug, Killer Moth, Killer Croc… Heck, even the nobody that is Magpie gets a mention. And the way they interact is a delight, if a dark one.
I jumped off Batman awhile back, somewhat bored by the ongoing business with Bane, one of the most overrated of Bat bad guys. Well, he’s still around, but more a background figure than the main event. The meat of Batman #75 – I can’t resist an anniversary issue, even if there isn’t a zero at the end – is concerned with showing us how Gotham City works as reimagined by Bane and buddies, and that I enjoy. I also like the Gotham Girl appearance, even if she really should have shuffled off this mortal comic a long time ago. And I love Alfred’s resistance in the face of the infernal Thomas Wayne.
The art is spiffy throughout. Tony S Daniel just gets better and better, his storytelling for the bulk of the book on point, his characters compelling and finishes stylish. And Tomeu Moreu’s colours paint Gotham as darkly attractive. The one off moment, though, is a big one – the reveal of Thomas Wayne as the city’s ‘true’ Batman…
… does that not scream ‘Frank N Furter’?
As for Mitch Gerads, he does a great job, working in full colour, with the final few pages, a tacked-on tie-in to the current DC Year of the Villain nonsense… I expect this will be filleted from the City of Bane collection and gently placed into a collection devoted to King and Gerads.
Clayton Cowles does a fine job making the script look good, and his emphases are always spot on. Extra points if he designed the terrific Bane logo – it’s far better than the druggie lucha-bore deserves.
As a one-off, I enjoyed this anniversary issue. I won’t, though, be back next time – Bane is a terribly annoying character, as tedious in his ‘can out-plan Batman’ as Batman is when he’s in ‘can out-plan everyone (except Bane) ((until he does))’ mode. He’s out to make Gotham a No Man’s Land again, and that was bad enough the first time out.