The many threads of the plot begin to clarify themselves as Commissioner Gordon loses faith in heroes, The Penguin prattles about poetry with his Guardian Alfred, and Batman beats a bloody trail across Gotham seeking proof of Bane's handiwork while the shadow which has been haunting him for months winds itself closer to his door.
This issue finds Batman beating down the wrong trail, seeking impossible proof to substantiate his theory about the man who put a hit on Dick and absolutely dismantling his reputation in the process. His pursuit of this case is as relentless and brutally methodical as always, and the fact that he is chasing absolutely the wrong quarry serves to highlight the central problem with vigilantism — that the city of Gotham (and therefore the readers) have been conditioned to welcome a methodology which, were it conducted by a government or individual whom we did not trust absolutely, would be considered utterly unacceptable.
Think about it. Would it ever be conceivably justifiable for a police officer to brutalize person after person in pursuit of conviction without any evidence of guilt, much less a trial? I could throw in something, here, about the police in America and their treatment of People of Color but that’s probably not the duty of a book review.
Now, since we know that this is Batman, and are therefore certain of his motivations, it is tempting to let his behavior off the hook. If we view the scene from Gordon’s perspective, on the other hand, it seems as though he’s spent years trusting a madman. No wonder he took a baseball bat to the Bat Signal.
The character studies on display in this issue were astonishing.
Now, onto slightly lighter subjects. There was a hideous dark humor to Kite-Man’s scene, pleading, blood and tears running down the sadly ridiculous fabric of his suit as he swore the truth by the life of his child.
It was lovely to see Alfred’s interaction with Cobblepot. The butler treated his prisoner with cautious, perfect dignity — while making it very clear that he wouldn’t abide any threats. They discussed Shakespeare’s allegory in a nuanced, intelligent way — and Alfred, of course, did not allow his considerate demeanor to slip when the Penguin revealed (as I predicted) that his wife was a bird.
This issue was not perfect. The art blazed in some panels and fizzled in others. This was a bit of a downward shift from last time. But this wasn’t enough to detract from the overall effect.
As for that big reveal at the end, the face of the killer? Well. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Carefully constructed, psychologically nuanced, and tinged with humour of the blackest, bleakest variety, this issue adds another layer of paint to the mural declaring Tom King the best Batman writer in decades.
Batman #60 Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 7.5/107.5/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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