Batman awakens, upside-down, in Pyg's slaughterhouse. Things fall apart, swiftly, from there.
This issue was difficult to review. I can analyze the elements which contributed to the final form, but since it’s unclear (as of yet) what that form is meant to be, I cannot honestly say whether or not the writing has succeeded in achieving its aim.
So, let us play detective and examine what we have. We’re all Batman, after all, for at least twenty minutes every couple of weeks. So long as we continue reading.
First: the art. The line work is, at once, more brutal and dreamlike than what we are used to. No surprise, there. This episode is clearly either a vivid hallucination or a revelatory dream. Mitch Gerads plays his lines across the pages, crackling the panels with electric imagery and uncertain boundaries. Some panels draw the eye to clear details (Pyg, consuming the raw sliver of flesh; Batman, hanging as the last in a line of increasingly stripped and hollowed carcasses), others play up the psychotropic blur, fritzing in and out of focus, contributing to the feeling of a narrative, unseamed from reality. His colors are hallucinatory and vivid, blood and fire everywhere. And The Batman lost.
This art would not be appropriate in any other issue, but it works very well here.
The writing is good. The words we read are measured and, in their way, beautiful. Tom King knows that, in detective work (and stories) so much depends upon noticing the things that you (reader, or Bat) are unprepared to notice.
There’s a theory, for example, that every character in the Batman universe represents an unexplored, misunderstood aspect of one mind. Batman is the Animus (the ideal male figure that the dreamer would like to eventually become), Cat Woman is the Animus (the same traits, but female. According to Jung, the Anima and Animus must, eventually, be unified if the sick mind ever wants to heal), the Robins are this Self, as children, as potential that is as yet unfulfilled, and therefore every villain is really an aspect of this hypothetical person’s character which must be converted and reintegrated into the whole.
If you don’t like this reading, don’t blame me. Throw a tweet at Margaret Atwood. I’m just reporting.
But if we apply that reading to this book (and hey, look: it seems to fit) the story makes a lot more sense. Who is Batman really struggling with, in his battle with Pyg? A villain? His Robin? Himself?
In any case, it’s clear that Batman’s mind is trying to tell him something of relative importance.
He should probably listen.
This was a hallucinatory, nightmarish episode contributing a vital splash of blood to an interesting story. The art is worth the cover-price alone.
Batman #62: What Dreams May Come
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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