The “City of Bane” story arc got off to a strong start with Batman #75. It was not perfect as there were a few rough edges that needs to be worked on. But from a concept level Tom King nailed what he was attempting to do. The tone of Gotham City being under the control of Batman’s greatest villains and Bane being the one leading the charge was great. It felt like a payoff to all the world building that King has been doing throughout his run. King truly created the question of how Batman and his family can even hope to overcome everything that Bane has put them through. That’s made into a bigger question by the fact that Bane broke Bruce Wayne emotionally, physically and spiritually. How will things go now? Let’s find out with Batman #76.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Inker: Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea and Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Catwoman arrives in Paris with a bag.
Above Gotham City Captain Atom confronts Gotham Girl over Bane taking over the city. Captain Atom states that while other heroes have listened to the Presidents orders to stay away from Gotham City he knows when to listen to an order and not. Gotham Girl doesn’t care who Captain Atom is. Before he can even reveal who he actually is Gotham Girl starts beating the crap out of Captain Atom.
Down in Gotham City Tweedledum and Tweedledee rush to tell Scarecrow and Kite Man something. Flashpoint Batman shows up right behind them and scares the four villains with his mere presence. Scarecrow and the others all jump out a window in order to escape.
Meanwhile Gotham Girl continues to beat the crap out of Captain Atom throughout the city.
Elsewhere Kite Man tries to fly himself, Scarecrow and Tweedledum but struggles due to the weight. Scarecrow makes it easier on Kite Man to fly by blasting some fear gas on Tweedledum. Tweedledum freaks out Kite Man ends up dropping him.
Elsewhere Gotham Girl has finished off Captain Atom. Flashpoint Batman gives Gotham Girl an update on where Scarecrow’s gang is. He then tells Gotham Girl to toss Captain Atom out of the city, which she immediately does.
In Pairs Catwoman arrives in her hideout where Bruce Wayne is knocked out on the couch still recovering.
At Kite Man’s hideout Scarecrow asks if the place is safe. Kite Man says he built the place so that means it is not safe. Kite Man then freaks out that he was a low-level villain and he does not think it is fair he will lose everything, including his mind because of it. Scarecrow states that Kite Man being scared is delicious.
At a hospital Red Robin (Tim Drake) finds Captain Atom clinging to life on a hospital bed. Captain Atom says that he has never fought anyone like Gotham Girl. Captain Atom reveals that now because he was arrested for going to Gotham City and given Lex-Tech dampeners. He goes on to say that the government is happy with how Gotham has become “peaceful” and don’t care who is running the city as long as the villains are gone.
Captain Atom tells Red Robin that the government is likely already aware that he is there and that he will be arrested since doing “good” is considered criminal now. He goes on to state that no one giving a damn is the problem and why he lost.
Over in Paris Selina Kyle talks to an unconscious Bruce about the Lacemaker Vemeer painting that she just stole and what it represents.
At Kite Man’s hideout Kite Man reflects on how maybe his role in all of this is to find and help “him.” Just then Kite Man is hit with a batarang right on his visor. A second later Flashpoint Batman knocks Kite Man out with a flying kick.
Flashpoint Batman asks Scarecrow if he wants easy or hard. Scarecrow says “Yes. Well. Hard. P-p-please.”
Elsewhere Damian Wayne tells Tim that Captain Atom was a stooge for not having a strategy. Tim reminds Damian that Captain Atom could take on Superman. Damian and Tim go back and forth on what Gotham Girl’s power level, including how the more she uses her powers the more in danger she is of losing her mind.
Tim then reminds Damian that if anyone in the Batman Family are caught in Gotham City that not only will they be arrested but Alfred would also be killed. Damian asks since when do they care about what a villain says. Tim responds by saying that since Bane broke their father. After going back and forth a bit more Damian admits he doesn’t really know what to do.
Back in Paris Selina tells the unconscious Bruce that her buyer is coming for the painting in the morning. She then apologizes for stealing stuff but that since Bruce is the most wanted man in the world she needs money to help heal him. Selina then says that she promises to not do this again if Bruce wakes up, even if it was for a little while.
Somewhere in Gotham City Flashpoint Batman asks Gotham Girl what she hears. Gotham Girl says that she does not hear anyone calling for Batman’s help. Flashpoint Batman then asks what she thinks of that. Gotham Girl responds by saying she likes the quiet because they won. End of issue.
The Good: As a standalone comic book Batman #76 works to get over what it intended in making a statement of whose Gotham City it was now. Flashpoint Batman and Gotham Girl’s reign as the new Dynamic Duo is firmly established. But on the other hand, the statement made does make you forget who the real puppet master of “City of Bane” truly is.
From just looking at the story presented Tom King did all he could to get over how Flashpoint Batman and Gotham Girl are running Gotham City. One of the most interesting parts of this new rule by the superhero pair was the fact that they have been endorsed by the country’s government. Even though it is clear that the villains are running the show the government is more than happy with that status quo as long as it means Gotham City has found some form of peace.
The way Flashpoint Batman carried himself as he hunted down Scarecrow, Kite Man and the others showed the confidence in this direction for Gotham City. Keeping Flashpoint Thomas Wayne’s dialogue to a minimum when he is Batman amplified that confidence. This is the first time since he showed up that we got to see him go full Flashpoint Batman. The terror he instilled in Kite Man and Scarecrow was completely in line with what is expected from this character.
As his Robin, Gotham Girl has been put over as her own character. King has done a nice job adapting the smack talk that comes with being a Robin. At the same time, he alters the way Gotham Girl talks smack by having her actually put down her opponents, in this case Captain Atom. The lack of care for who Captain Atom was showed her true personality for the first time since her debut.
What made the battle between Gotham Girl and Captain Atom was how this re-established the former’s power set. Because since her debut, Gotham Girl’s powers have been all over the place in her appearances. But with Batman #76 King focus on what level she actually is at, which is easily above Captain Atom. Establishing that fact further gets across why the takeover of Gotham City happened.
In speaking of Captain Atom, he was a good choice for the superhero that would try to take Gotham City back. He is a rarely used hero that is still respected enough because of how powerful he is known to be. Along with that, since he is so closely tied to the US government, it made Captain Atom the right choice to put over why other heroes are not responding to what is going on in Gotham City. That was something missing in the last issue that I was glad King explained early on in Batman #76.
With that established it made the talk between Robins that Damian Wayne and Tim Drake had even more important. At the moment, they are the only active Robins that can possibly help Gotham City. But because of the rules set by the government one wrong move would mean that Damian or Tim would end up turning the government and Gotham City against the Batman Family. Setting up how both Damian and Tim must bide their time is a great sub-plot to give them and builds anticipation for the full Batman Family reunion.
All of this speaks to how methodical the entire plan that Bane came up with. Because breaking Bruce Wayne was just one of the steps into Bane’s grand scheme. The other part was showing that the world can move on without Bruce being Batman. And the fact that the government is fine with staying out of things showed that Bane’s plan has been masterfully executed.
What makes this execution of Bane’s plot even better was the state that we find Bruce Wayne in. Seeing everything established in the new world order for Gotham City that Bruce went through more than one person should go through in multiple lifetimes. King and Daniels did a great job showing getting over how exhausted Bruce is. That state makes you wonder how Bruce, with Selina’s help, will be able to rebuild himself.
Having Selina Kyle with Bruce from the beginning of “City of Bane” gives an interesting hook to this plotline. Given how things ended with them at the no-show wedding it’s clear that Selina still holds guilt over it. That has been a running sub-plot in the current Catwoman ongoing series. King carries that over and does not hide how Selina is trying to mend fences with Bruce, even as he is unconscious. Selina’s dialogue throughout Batman #76 built anticipation for what Bruce’s first words will be with Selina when he is fully aware of his situation.
Kite Man’s role in Batman #76 was a nice payoff to a character that King has been slowly building up throughout his run. As such a small time villain it is understandable that in the face of falling under Bane’s control that he would wonder if he is meant to serve a greater purpose. It is something that King has been toying around with Kite Man. If there is an actual payoff to this sense of grandeur Kite Man can’t let go of is a question that King hopefully answers at some point in “City of Bane.”
Tony Daniels artwork through Batman #76 was once again on point. He delivers great impact on the action sequence between Gotham Girl and Captain Atom. Daniels gets across how powerful Gotham Girl is and how she demeans Captain Atom throughout their fight. The artwork for the character focused moments, like the argument between Damian and Tim, was nicely detailed. The standout of these was how Daniels drew Scarecrow’s expression when he choose the hard way when Flashpoint Batman how he wanted to be taken in.
The Bad: One of the major things missing from Batman #76 was an appearance from Bane. With this storyline called “City of Bane” it would be nice to see Bane be an actual presence in the storyline. Instead King continues to keep Bane in the background even though he accomplished everything he wanted. The way Batman #76 was written it would’ve been easy to think this storyline was called “City of Flashpoint Batman and Gotham Girl.” It was them not Bane who were established as being the ones leading to the current status quo in Gotham City.
This is something that needs to change. Because it has been getting old seeing all the villains that Bane has been puppeteering be the main focus. It is time King took time to show how exactly Bane is doing all of this after 76 issues going down this direction. Even one or two pages where Bane appears would be better than the no show the character had in Batman #76.
Overall: Batman #76 does a fine job putting over the current status quo in Gotham City. Though the no show of Bane is disappointing, Tom King does a great job writing Flashpoint Batman and Gotham Girl as the new Dynamic Duo. The new world order that they have created is amplified by the way Robin, Captain Atom and other heroes and villains react to their presence. All of this builds anticipation for how things will go down once Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle make it back to Gotham City.
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