The man in black rode across the desert with a coffin at his heels…
If we had skipped the last issue and jumped directly to this, I would be a much happier person. This issue crackles with energy. Reading it is as delicious as rubbing your hand across the pelt of some large creature on a frigid winter’s day. It’s got that same textured, dangerous sense of pleasure to it. The same subtle electricity. All of the flaws, the bad pacing, of issue #72, fall quietly away.
There’s still a sense of mystery to the plot (why was Thomas using Bane when he could have come to the same ending from a less convoluted route?) but we’re finally getting some answers — and those answers are good.
The art is virtually perfect. Mikel Janine and Jordie Bellaire sing together in the tongues of line and colour. We are treated to pages of Thomas riding through a seemingly endless waste with his son slung, unconscious, across his saddle. We get perfectly lit panels of him singing cowboy songs and beating up members of The Death of the Desert. The colours shift between shades of yellow and orange to violent and bruise as the shadows fall, and the panels are either drawn in tight (highlighting a gasped breath or the twist of humour at a lip) or else pulled out to show the shadows of two men standing, isolated, around a small flicker of light.
The dialogue is terse, but more effective because of that economy, so that the reader is made to contemplate the implications of each line. This issue is composed of everything that King is best at. And it all works.
So. What are we left with? A father and son, both Batmen, reunited at last and serving a common goal, dragging a coffin to Ra’s Al Guhl’s Lazarus Pit.
What’s in the box, Thomas?!? What’s in the box?
Read the issue, to find out.
After the unfortunate waste of the previous issue, King jumps back in the saddle with this stellar exercise in narrative economy and astonishing art. This is one to pick up.
Batman #73: Back on the Horse
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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