It’s no secret that I did not enjoy the journey that has been taken over the course of these last fourteen issues as we got on the road to “City of Bane.” Both the “Knightmares” and “The Fall and the Fallen” did act as a strong continuation of what Tom King had built over the course of the first 60 issues of his run. That said, because of I’ve enjoyed the majority of King’s run I have been highly looking forward to “City of Bane.” This should deliver the true payoff in the war between Batman and Bane that King has built a good portion of his run around. The question is how Bruce Wayne can even hope to overcome everything after Bane broke him and the showdown with Flashpoint Thomas Wayne. We don’t even know if Bruce survived the battle he had with the alternate version of his father. Let’s start getting some answers to this by checking out the start of “City of Bane” in Batman #75.
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Tony S. Daniel and Mitch Gerads
Colorists: Tomeu Merey and Mitch
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Driving in a GCPD car the Detective Joker and Detective Riddler respond to a new case. They immediately head over to the apartment and find two costumed guys, named Dr. Double X and Twice, shot dead. From what was left at the crime scene Joker thinks that Two-Face is behind the murders.
Detective Riddler calls Commissioner Hugo Strange to tell him what they discovered. Strange tells Riddler and Joker to investigate the murders and turn in paper work on their findings.
A little later Hugo turns on the Batsignal. Flashpoint Batman immediately responds and appears on the GCPD headquarters rooftop.
Elsewhere in a snowy mountain someone is seen climbing a large amount of stairs carved into the mountain.
In the Batcave Flashpoint Batman comments to the Ventriloquist (who is acting as Flashpoint Batman’s Alfred) that Two-Face couldn’t have taken Double X out on his own since Double X had a strength level that matches Superman. Flashpoint Batman uses his special program to discovers all the safe houses that Two-Face is likely hiding in. Flashpoint Batman gets in the Batmobile and decides to call “the girl” to help him out against the muscle that is working with Two-Face.
Once Flashpoint Batman is gone Ventriloquist sits down in front of the Batcomputer. As he stares at Flashpoint Batman’s special program someone tells Ventriloquist that he is a waste of skin and bones since “he” could have the world.
Back in the snowy mountain the heavily coated person continues climbing up the mountain.
Back in Gotham City, at a Harvey Dent and Two-Face are talking back-and-forth with each other while Solomon Grundy and Amygdala watch. The Batmobile suddenly crashes into the warehouse. Solomon Grundy immediately crushes the Batmobile, forcing Flashpoint Batman to jump out of his car.
Solomon Grundy and Amygdala surround Flashpoint Batman. Suddenly Gotham Girl (in a new purple and blue version of Damian Wayne’s Robin costume) flies in and knocks Solomon Grundy back.
Back in the snowy mountains the mysterious person finally gets to the top and approaches the only building that is there.
Back in Gotham City, Gotham Girl talks about her backstory and how conflicted she is with Flashpoint Batman not wanting her talking during a fight as his sidekick. She then introduces herself as Gotham Girl, someone she states is better than Robin.
Amygdala charges at Gotham Girl. Gotham Girl uses her laser beam eyes to cut off one of Amygdala’s arms.
With both Amygdala and Solomon Grundy incapacitated Two-Face threatens to kill himself as he does not want to be taken to “him.” Two-Face then mentions a story Joker told him about how Joker got the “fake Batman” to do whatever he wanted by threatening to kill himself. Flashpoint Batman says that the “fake Batman” was just a child. He then nails Two-Face in the Harvey Dent eye with a batarang.
Back in the snowy mountain the mysterious person asks the person inside the building where the memory of the mountain is. The guy says they are dead. The mysterious person doesn’t believe it since they were his pupil and asks if they left anything for them. The guy then cuts the mysterious person in the neck with a knife and his buddy knocks the mysterious person out with a crowbar. The two then react how the person they knocked out is worth a lot.
Atop the GCPD headquarters Flashpoint Batman delivers a knocked out Two-Face to Strange. Flashpoint Batman says that while Two-Face is alive he severed some nerves that separated the side of his brain. Strange says that “he” will be upset about Two-Face conditions but Flashpoint Batman is already gone.
Back on the snowy mountains Bruce Wayne, who was the mysterious person, has been stripped to his boxers by the guys who knocked him out. As they leave him one of the guys comments that they are going to tell Magpie everything so Bane can make her the richest person in the world.
Over at Arkham Asylum Two-Face is strapped to a chair by Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
At the Batcave Flashpoint Batman rides in on a bike. While changing Flashpoint Batman asks about dinner and if “he” is there. Ventriloquist says “he” is there like always. Flashpoint Thomas Wayne says that is good.
Over at Arkham Asylum Psycho Pirate tells Two-Face he is there to cure him. Psycho Pirate puts on his mask and says that Two-Face will learn to love Bane.
At the Wayne Mansion Flashpoint Thomas meets Alfred for dinner. Flashpoint Thomas mentions that Gotham Girl won’t be joining them as she is monitoring the city’s edges to make sure the Justice League don’t come in. Alfred and Flashpoint Thomas confirm that the reason the Justice League haven’t shown up is because Alfred is being held hostage.
Alfred still believes Bruce will return. Flashpoint Thomas says that Bruce is broken. Alfred says that he is sorry because he knows what Bruce will do when he returns.
Back at the snowy mountains someone approaches Bruce and asks how they first met. Bruce says it was on a boat and that he is there because that is where it started. Catwoman takes off her hood and says that Bruce is wrong because they first met on the streets.
Later in the night in Gotham City it is we see Joker and Riddler joking inside the GCPD with Harvey Bullock tied up. Then we see a billboard of Gotham Girl promoting behavior because she is watching. Professor Pyg, Zsazz, Hush, Firefly, Doctor Phosphorus, Mad Hatter and Killer Croc are then shown giving their own justice across the city.
A Legion of Doom drone is then shown going inside Arkham Asylum. The drone reaches Bane and plays a message from Lex Luthor that states “I see. I see you are right sir. All can be doubted. All but Bane.” End of issue.
The Good: Batman #75 followed the strong reading experience that Tom King has set as a standard for his run on this series. Immediately from the moment you open this issue it feels as though everything that came before it built to the opening with Joker and the Riddler. From there it was full speed ahead developing the new world order that was created in “City of Bane.”
Unlike “Knightmares” and “The Fall and the Fallen” Batman #75 does not concern itself with looking backwards. From the moment you start reading this issue it is about moving forward. The question of what is going on in Gotham City is constantly being answered as we see how various villains have positioned themselves in the new world order that Bane has created. It is as dark and twisted as it is fun to see some of Batman’s most iconic villains being explored in this way.
Using Joker and Riddler as detectives in the GCPD opened Batman #75 on a big note. These two former enemies now being presented as partners shows how completely under the villains control Gotham City is in. They are the best representation for the order that Batman tried to maintain. And since these are two of Batman’s biggest villains it set the tone for how no one was safe from working for Bane.
The tone in general was great. King had a great deal of trust in his artists, Tony Daniel and Mitch Gerads, to help him create a Gotham City that had a completely different life since we last saw it. The entire vibe to the city very much felt like the one we got from Batman: Arkham City. The fear in the normal citizens was so great that almost no one felt secure leaving their homes. Those that did were faced with great terror as all the villains were placed in a position where they were the cops and firefighters of Gotham City.
Through showing how the villains have taken over King is able to slowly hint at how Bane was able to put the likes of Joker, Riddler and others under his command. Those hints are thrown all over Batman #75. Centering those hints around the hunt for Two-Face made it even more clear how Bane used his command of Psycho Pirate to accomplish his goal. It is a payoff to how Bane has manipulated everything that has happened during King’s run for this very moment where he is the King of Gotham City.
This role of being one of the final villains to challenge Bane’s rule was treated as being unique to Two-Face. The dichotomy between the Harvey Dent and Two-Face was used well to explain why he didn’t join Bane’s side as the former stopped the latter. This made the final showdown with Flashpoint Batman have greater weight as King established that Two-Face was one of the last dominos to fall for complete control of Gotham City.
This made Flashpoint Batman being revealed as the Dark Knight of this new Gotham City a cool reveal. This was easily the best presentation of Flashpoint Batman since his guest appearance in “The Button” crossover. King makes it clear what the difference is between Bruce Wayne and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne are. Seeing Flashpoint Batman nail Two-Face in the eye with a batarang sent a clear message that he is not who his son was as the Dark Knight.
The presentation of Flashpoint Batman made his final scene in Batman #75 with Alfred even more effective. Even though I did not like how “The Fall and the Fallen” turned out King properly used how Flashpoint Thomas Wayne continued to push his idea that he knows Bruce best. In his head he believes Bruce should not be Batman.
That opened the door for a fantastic scene in which Alfred was able to imply that Flashpoint Thomas Wayne has no idea who Bruce is. As the person who actually raised him, Alfred understands that Bruce’s greatest strength is his determination. That determination will not allow Bruce to stay down even when Bane, Flashpoint Batman and everyone else thinks he is broken. Having Alfred stand up against Flashpoint Thomas Wayne to point this all out was a great character moment that shows how layered his relationship is with Bruce.
Furthermore, this scene between Flashpoint Batman and Alfred also helped in establishing why the Justice League would not step in to help in Bruce’s absence. Given that they all know Bruce is Batman there is no way they would put Alfred and everyone in Gotham City in danger by rushing in. They must be methodical in how they approach things, possibly even having to wait for Bruce to return as Batman to actually act on what is going on. It is a small but great detail to add as that would’ve quickly come into question if King did not provide an answer for it.
Having Alfred as a hostage allowed the focus of Gotham Girl’s direction to be better handled. King made the right choice not to just have Gotham Girl take on the Robin identity. It would not have been in her character to take on being Flashpoint Batman’s Robin. Keeping her Gotham Girl identity allowed Claire’s personality to shine more as we see her confidence skyrocket. Along with that we get to see how Bane and Flashpoint Batman are using her as the face for what they are doing. It is a much better character arc for Gotham Girl, especially in comparison to how she has been used since her debut storyline.
With how Gotham City is completely dominated by Bane it gives a timer for how long Bruce can spend on whatever journey he is on to repair himself. King and Daniel’s do a great job allowing the way Bruce walk silently up a mountain to tell his story. He is in no shape to currently take on Bane and all of his villains. Even though he would love nothing more, Bruce needs to first get himself back up to 100% mentally, physically and spiritually. If he is not at 100% in any of those areas he will stand no chance, which we saw with how the punk kids easily took him out and stole his clothes.
Batman #75’s main story ending with Catwoman appearing in front of an almost naked Bruce laying on the snowy mountains was a double edged sword. On the positive side of things, I love how King has turned the first meeting between Bruce and Selina as the secret code they use to identify each other. It is a great twist to something that King has continued to push between the two. Where exactly King plans on taking the reunion between Bruce and Selina will be very interesting to see.
As mentioned earlier, Tony Daniel and Mitch Gerads delivered great artwork for their parts of Batman #75. With how everything was turned on its head in Gotham City, Daniel was able to help set the tone for what was happening. Even though the streets were dead the city came across as having a life of its own. Also, given the changes to the villains thanks to Psycho Pirate’s powers Daniel was able to show how Bane changed them to be under his command perfectly. And with Bruce’s journey in the mountains being mostly silent Daniel did a great job carrying those brief scenes to show how broken Bruce still is at the moment just by the way he was walking.
For the final few pages of Batman #75 Gerads further developed the tone of this new Gotham City perfectly. The fear that surrounded the city as the villains controlled everything was clear. It did not feel safe for anyone that wasn’t a Batman villain to walk on the streets. This made the final reveal of Bane still being in Arkham Asylum come across as a bigger moment with the way Gerads drew it.
The Bad: Batman #75 was not perfect. Even though King established why the Justice League and other outside heroes did not respond to the crisis in Gotham City it does not give a reason for the Batman Family’s absence. In particular, it is odd we don’t get a hint at were Batgirl is since she is known to be the only member of the Batman Family consistently operating in Gotham City. Hinting at where she would’ve given greater depth to the tone that King created in the story. But by not doing so it made it look as though Batgirl and the entire Batman Family have abandoned Gotham City in Bruce’s absence.
Another thing that was odd was Catwoman’s sudden appearance. While it was great to see her back in the pages of Batman it does come out of nowhere. With everything that has happened and how Selina Kyle has built a whole new life for herself it came across as rushed that she would be able to find Bruce so quickly. There was no journey given to Selina looking and finding Bruce. It just happens because somehow Selina was following Bruce all the way up unknown mountains. Hopefully King quickly answers in future issues as some continuity with the Catwoman series would add depth to the story.
On a similar note, Gotham Girl’s reappearance as the “Robin” for Flashpoint Batman just seemed to ignore all the continuity with the recent Batman/Flash crossover. The last time we saw Gotham Girl she was on the verge of dying. Not touching that character development in some way during Gotham Girl’s long monologue immediately downgrades the importance of that crossover.
Overall: Tom King, Tony S. Daniel and Mitch Gerads gave “City of Bane” the hot start that was expected from all the build up to this major event. Throughout Batman #75 the creative team set a strong tone to what a Gotham City under the control of Bane and other villains would be like. In the process there are several characters that King has been working on that are given strong forward progress.
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