Posted by Jyger85
Welcome back to DC Rebirth One Year Later, where we look at DC books that are part of DC Comics’ Rebirth initiative one year after it began. And, with this one, I’m not looking forward to it. I COULD put it off to the end, but…no. I should do this now. And I could sugarcoat how I feel about it, but the truth is, and I have to give my honest opinion on this, Tom King’s Batman, while having its good points, is probably the most disappointing book of DC Rebirth. And now, I’m not just saying that because I was a big fanboy of Scott Snyder’s run. I’ve pointed out in the past when I thought Snyder’s run with Batman disappointed or fell short in some way, so I will not pull any punches here, either. So, let’s take a look at Tom King’s run on Batman.
First off, while there was the occasional head-scratching moment, I actually did like the opening arc, I Am Gotham. Batman interacting with and having to bring up to speed essentially Gotham City’s version of Superman and Supergirl is an interesting scenario, one that we don’t see very often. And here, Batman’s seniority over Gotham…erm, the man, not the city. He calls himself Gotham. The girl is named Gotham Girl. For simplicity, though, I’m just gonna call them Henry and Claire. Anyway, Batman’s seniority over the two makes perfect sense: They’re new. They haven’t been heroes for very long, and while they’ve lived in Gotham for a while, they don’t know it as intimately as Bruce does. So him taking lead and mentoring them makes sense. It’s also interesting to see how their backstory could have been like Bruce’s, but Batman was there to save them from that fate, leading them to a different scenario. And because they come off as genuinely good people, it’s all the more tragic what ultimately happens to them, with Henry turning bad and Claire being forced to ultimately bring him down, all while going more than a little bonkers herself.
The arc also had some awesome moments…even if a couple were complete horseshit. Let’s be honest, people, Batman surfing a plane out of harm’s way and flipping Solomon Grundy one-handed were both completely improbable. But then, that’s symptomatic of a problem I’ll get into later. Other moments, however, like the confrontation with Henry after he’s been driven mad, complete with Alfred in a Batsuit (which was both cool and hilarious), and Batman actually doing the one thing no one would’ve expected and CALLING THE JUSTICE LEAGUE, were pretty damned badass.
After that…Oy. I don’t know what to say, folks. King had me, and then he lost me. I think what did it most for me was the I Am Suicide arc. First off, lemme make this clear: The suggestion that Catwoman would kill over 200 people is absolutely stupid. The thing you need to understand is that Catwoman likewise has a no kill rule. Granted, when I found out the people she supposedly killed were terrorists who took out the orphanage she once stayed in, I felt such actions would’ve at least been understandable, but I still didn’t really buy it. I knew it was one of two things: Character derailment, or a deliberate twist in the making. Turns out, surprise surprise, it was the latter…and kind of the former. See, it wasn’t Selina who killed those people, she was just covering for the person who actually killed them: Holly Robinson. So, in other words, instead of Selina’s character being turned into a Goddamn murderer, it was Holly’s. Um, yay? Am I supposed to feel happy about that?
Besides that, though, the crowning moment of stupid had to be when Bane broke Batman’s back AGAIN, but then Batman proceeded to somehow pop it back to normal and walk it off… … …I will repeat that. Bane broke Batman’s back for the second time, and then Batman managed to somehow fix it on his own, with no medical equipment whatsoever, and then went back on his mission like it was no big thing. And I remember watching a video where Tom King was very excitedly talking about this sequence of events, also fanboying over this moment that he wrote, and all I could think of was “…Tom, you DO know that Batman is human, right?”
Yeah, that’s something that’s been bothering me for a long-ass time now, and it really got highlighted in that one sequence of events. To put it bluntly, hardly anyone writes Batman nowadays to have actual human limitations. We constantly have seen him defy what should be humanly possible for going on two decades now. Granted, some of us online have guessed that Batman might be a low key metahuman, but the thing is, when you look at the founding members of the Justice League, Batman is supposed to be the ordinary man who doesn’t possess superpowers of any kind, and is equipped with human-made tech, meaning he doesn’t even have the advantages of a Green Lantern. However, the truth is that, if he tried to accomplish half the stuff he did with the actual limitations of a human being, even one at the peak of human physical conditioning and mental prowess, he’d have been dead a LONG time ago. Now, that’s not to say that his position on the Justice League is completely unjustified or anything. It’s important on a team like that to have multiple heroes of different power-sets and power-levels, so as to deal with any kind of situation that might get thrown at them. But again, if Batman isn’t going to be written as having human limitations, and is CONSTANTLY the one who has to be at the center of attention and bailing the rest of his team out, then it kinda ruins the idea. And, I’m sorry, but seeing Batman somehow fix his broken back on his own is absolutely stupid, as are him surfing a fucking jet liner away from Gotham City, flipping Solomon Grundy with one hand, surviving a beating from Professor Zoom, walking out of a fight with Darkseid with barely a scratch on him, that bullshit he pulled in Batman R.I.P. with the coffin, and probably most insane of all, surviving the mother fucking vacuum of mother fucking space for 24 mother fucking seconds! And no, I will not get over that!
And then there’s a moment I absolutely detest as it pertains to what it does to the character of Batman: When Bane returns to get his revenge on Bruce, the latter decides that the only way to ensure victory over Bane is to force Bane to run the gauntlet of the rest of Batman’s rogues gallery. How does he do this? HE LETS THEM ALL OUT OF THEIR CELLS AT ARKHAM AND PUTS THEM BETWEEN HIMSELF AND BANE! Now, on the one hand, this is a clever subversion of how Bane first defeated Batman, by arranging to have the Arkham inmates escape, let Batman tire himself out physically and mentally by catching them all, and then attack him when he was at his weakest. It’s the thing a lot of people forget about Bane: That while he DID beat Batman in a one-on-one fight, it wasn’t exactly a fair fight. He essentially beat him in a chess match that Batman didn’t even know they were playing until his king was in check and all of his other pieces had been taken off the board. So yeah, clever subversion. On the other hand, though, HE LET HIS WORST ENEMIES GO FREE FOR THE SAKE OF MAKING THEM MEAT SHIELDS! AND HE ARMED THEM!!! This is downright villainous behaviour! Yes, he’s doing this not only to save himself but also Alfred and Claire, but my God, Batman, did you even take two seconds to think about all the ways this could’ve gone horribly wrong?! What if your other rogues had killed Bane?! You would’ve been an accomplice to murder, and then you would’ve had the much harder task of rounding them all up!
Oh, but as it turns out, small chance of that, because not only does Bane curbstomp his way through ALL of Batman’s worst nightmares (sans Joker for reasons I’ll get to in a later article), he then proceeds to beat the living hell out of Batman, and Batman just BARELY manages to win in the end! So we’re supposed to believe that Batman has the means with which to take on Superman and Wonder Woman in one-on-one fights, people with Godlike strength, and possibly even beat them in said fights, but he can’t handle one roided-out jock who just fought a bunch of other guys! What a fucking load of bullshit!
Anyway, having mentioned the thing with Zoom earlier, let’s talk about The Button, which is actually where things started to pick up a bit for me. I’mma leave the bulk of what happens in that book out for when I talk about The Flash, but for now, let’s just discuss the biggest thing to happen in that book that directly affects Batman: Meeting his father from the Flashpoint timeline. Having somehow managed to arrive there, despite there being no real reason they should have been able to that they could figure out, Flash and Batman meet up with Thomas Wayne, AKA Flashpoint’s Batman. The meeting between the two is sadly short-lived as Flashpoint is slowly erased from existence, but Bruce relays to Thomas that he has a son, making Thomas a grandfather, and while Thomas has a chance to escape death, he stays behind. As he does, though, he has the following advice for Bruce:
…Yeah, I won’t be doing the fail thing here, because holy shit, is this some powerful stuff. And while I have my doubts that Bruce will ever truly quit being Batman, as well as something else I’ll get into in a bit, this DOES have significant follow-up, as Bruce, deciding to find happiness, finally mans up and does something he should’ve done YEARS ago…
Now, I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ I have been waiting for this moment for-fucking-ever! Outside of Earth 2 or otherwise Elseworlds stories, this moment has never happened. DC has teased it for decades, but they never pulled the trigger. Well, it seems like the trigger is now officially pulled. And, speaking of Earth 2, one thing of note in Bruce and Selina’s interactions in this book is that they remember two different versions of their first meeting: The Golden Age version, and the one from Frank Miller’s Batman Year One story. Hell, the diamond in the ring Bruce uses to propose is actually the same diamond she stole during their meeting in the Golden Age version, suggesting that this is the actual way they met in this timeline. This COULD be interpreted to mean that, when the ten years of history taken from the DCU are restored, Batman’s Golden Age roots will be brought back, and possibly even his marriage to Catwoman and her giving birth to Helena Wayne, AKA Huntress. These things could finally be made canon to the mainstream DC Universe. There is a great opportunity here to do this. Of course, that would also mean that, when Batman was starting out, he killed people, but I could buy the idea that the no kill rule was actually something he developed over time as a means of keeping himself more grounded. It wouldn’t be the worst thing they did with the character.
On the other hand, though, for reasons I hope I’ve made clear in this article, I don’t know that I trust Tom King with this. Characterization of these two has been passable at best and downright insultingly bad at worst in this book. Oh, and I don’t care if you think them calling each other Bat and Cat is cute or not, it got annoying REAL quick. But just beyond that, I don’t know that I trust DC to actually DO this. I’ll talk more about this later on, but in Nightwing’s book, Dick recently found out he was gonna be a father, and it was a huge deal to me and a lot of readers. Granted, some people hated it because the mother was neither Barbara Gordon nor Kory, instead being a reformed crook he’d met as Robin named Shawn, but it was still a huge deal: Dick Grayson was gonna be a father. This was major character development for him. However, sadly, it was a fake-out. Turned out Shawn got a false positive. And, if current events and future solicits for his book and Batgirl’s are to be believed, it looks like this relationship is doomed to failure. What makes that worse is that even those of us who loved the idea of Dick becoming a father and wanted it to be true…kind of knew they weren’t really gonna do this, because DC pulls this crap ALL THE TIME. I’m STILL amazed that they not only got Lois and Clark back together, but gave them a son to boot. So yeah, there’s a great opportunity here for Batman, his stories, and his legacy in the future, but I don’t trust DC to actually do it. If they do, GREAT. I honestly hope this happens and it’s done right. But I’m not necessarily holding my breath, either.
And that leads me to where the book is going. Well, right now, it’s The War of Jokes and Riddles, a flashback story narrated by Batman to Selina after he proposed to her that takes place during some sort of war between Joker and Riddler. Apparently, Batman did something terrible during this event, and is telling all of this to Selina because he wants her to know before committing herself to marrying him. Of course, there are a couple of problems with this. One, this story has Joker and Riddler being in a state of mind that makes them very morose, AKA wildly out of character and uninteresting. And two…well, if the final pages of the opening issue are to be believed, Bruce is telling Selina all of this after they had sex. Man, and I thought Zayn from One Direction made pillow talk sound unappealing.
But, then there’s one other thing I gather Tom King will get to at some point. Basically, at the end of the I Am Gotham arc, we got some narration from Claire that took place in the future, wherein she is not only married to Duke Thomas, but also apparently killed Batman… … …Okay, I’m just gonna get this out of the way right now: Can we please get a writer on the main Batman book who DOESN’T try to boost sales by teasing killing Batman off? And both Morrison and Snyder were quick to reveal that said deaths of Batman were fake-outs. Why should I have any reason to believe that isn’t the case here? Goddammit, DC, get Tom King off this book pronto and get someone who understands the character and won’t resort to trying to kill him off to write it. Sorry, King, but you’re just not the man for this book. But I do legitimately hope Mister Miracle works out great for you.
Anyway, that’s it for Tom King’s Batman. Leave your comments below on how you felt about the book, and be sure to check back in next time. And, rest assured, if there’s trouble, you’ll know who to call. Ja né!
Tags: Bane, Batman, Bruce Wayne, Catwoman, DC Comics, DC Rebirth, Duke Thomas, Flashpoint, Gotham, Gotham Girl, I Am Bane, I Am Gotham, I Am Suicide, Selina Kyle, The Button, The Joker, The Riddler, The War of Jokes and Riddles, Thomas Wayne, Tom King, Tom King's Batman