The line between reality and nightmare remains blurred as Batman battles Bane(?) and also his family(?) in order to regain control over a city (or a mind) run mad.
This issue is considerably more confused, in terms of narrative structure, than the previous installment, but there is a possibility that this confusion is intentional. As in issue 70, there are two parallel stories here (one in which Batman is running mad within the ‘real’ city and his children have to find a way to help him, and one in which Bane has usurped power in the mansion – and claimed Alfred for his minion) but it is considerably less clear which ‘reality’ is the true one.
On the surface, the meeting between Bane and Bruce reads as much more dream-like. The emptiness, the eerie shadows and skewed perspectives of those scenes all feed into a heightened, dream-like state in contrast to the more populous, dialogue-filled scenes involving the extended Bat Family. However, if you examine the images it’s clear that there are nightmarish elements visible here as well. Gordon’s failure of trust, the fact that Damien is holding a Pyg mask (hearkening back to the first true nightmare of this arc), Dick’s refusal to come (isn’t he still recovering from a gunshot wound to the head?), and of course Bruce’s attack against Tim seemed very out of character.
It is possible (and more than possible) that both of these realities are dreams, with each holding a measure of psychological truth (what’s more terrifying than being betrayed by your parents or inadvertently harming your children?) while still springing from the effects of a poisoned syringe.
In any case, this issue was fun to read — in an anxiety-provoking way. The dialogue was good; the art was extremely effective (Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes continue to deliver the goods) and the story is clearly building to a major reveal. My only concern, given the uneven nature of this arc so far is whether or not the story will have earned it.
Although the script seemed to be a bit muddled in places its deficits were balanced by the strength of the dialogue and art. Clearly King is building to an emotionally-powerful conclusion. Let’s hope that he sticks the landing.
Batman #71: Family Feud
Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 7.5/107.5/10
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