The City of Bane has sure gotten off to a big start as Bruce Wayne is nowhere to be found as Bane and Flashpoint Batman have taken over Gotham City. Batman #76 put over why no hero or government body has gotten involved with what is going on in Gotham City. Captain Atom learned first hand thanks to the beating he got from Gotham Girl. With all that set up how can Bruce, who is being taken care of by Selina Kyle, and the other Batman Family members deal with what is going on in Gotham City? Let’s find out with Batman #77.
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mikel Janin and Tony S. Daniel
Inker: Mikel Janin, Norm Rapmund, Tony S. Daniel
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire and Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere in Gotham City Robin (Damian Wayne) is found by Gotham Girl on a rooftop. Gotham Girl teases Robin that he has nowhere to run and fires a heat vision blast, which Robin dodges.
Gotham Girl continues to mock Robin and states she is going to kill him. Robin takes out a wand a recites a spell in a similar fashion to Zatanna. The spell creates mystic chains that restrain Gotham Girl. This gives Robin the chance to continue his plan.
Over in Paris Selina Kyle cooks some food while singing a song. Eventually Bruce Wayne finally wakes up.
Back in Gotham City Detective Scarecrow and Detective Zsasz attempt to arrest a person for having too long of a leash on their dog. Robin shows up and quickly knocks Scarecrow down. After dodging some gunfire Robin is able to knock Zsasz out.
In Paris Selina approaches an awake Bruce. After a moment of silence Bruce admits he lost.
Somewhere in Gotham City Robin confronts Flashpoint Batman. Flashpoint Batman says Robin should not mistaken him for some pretender. Robin calls Flashpoint Batman for not being Batman. He goes on to state that Flashpoint Batman is just some guy that let his wife turn into Joker, couldn’t save her and let his universe be erased because of a Button. Robin calls Flashpoint Batman pathetic and punches him.
Flashpoint Batman tries to call Damian his “grandson” but Robin states that they are not related.
At a cafe in Paris, Bruce tells Selina that he has to go back to Gotham City. Selina says that if Bruce goes back he will die. Bruce says that at least he will die in Gotham City like his parents did.
Back in Gotham City Robin and Flashpoint Batman start fighting. Flashpoint Batman quickly overpowers Robin. While beating him down Flashpoint Batman reminds Robin about the warning he gave the entire Batman Family. Robin won’t back down from a threat. Flashpoint Batman calls Robin out for being stubborn like Bruce. He then proceeds to stomp on Robin so hard that Damian is knocked out.
Over in Paris Selina tells Bruce that she is not going to let him die. Bruce says he can see every scenario and that this is how it should be. Selina calls Bruce out for not actually being able to see everything, including her.
Back in Gotham City Robin is woken up when he hears Alfred’s voice begging Flashpoint Batman not to do what he is planning in front of Damian. Flashpoint Batman states that Robin must learn his lesson that this isn’t Batman’s city, it is the City of Bane. When Robin fully comes to he is horrified when he sees Bane snap Alfred’s neck in front of him.
Flashpoint Batman states that Robin is now their new prisoner and that will likely make the other Batman Family members even more hesitant to act like Damian did.
Elsewhere, Bruce and Selina are wearing their Batman and Catwoman costumes, respectively. Catwoman tells Batman that she is going to show him how he can get revenge for what Bane and Flashpoint Batman have done. End of issue.
The Good: Batman #77 is an issue that is made by all the phenomenal scenes in Gotham City starring Robin. The choice that Robin makes to not hide his presence in Gotham City fully put into context the consequences that come from defying Bane’s rule over the city. If Tom King and DC Comics sticks to it as the new status quo the events of Batman #77 can have far reaching consequences, beyond “City of Bane.”
Something that Tom King does not credit enough for is how stellar his writing is of the Batman Family. Anytime King brings in one of the Batman Family members into this series, beyond just Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, there is a noticeable step up in an already high quality series. What makes King’s portrayal of the Batman Family such a standout is how he treats every member as a veteran hero. Even the youngest among them, in this case Damian Wayne, has enough experience in their superhero identity that they can confidently work with Batman or as solo heroes.
King’s writing of Damian Wayne shows how well he knows how to write all these characters. He does not hold back writing the current Robin as a defiant, confident character. Throughout the Batman #77 you can tell that Damian has a belief that he can take on the entire City of Bane by himself.
In doing so King is able to tap into the Batman aspect of his character that Damian carries as Batman. An important, rarely stated, aspect of all the Robins is how they’ve each have a specific expertise that Batman mastered. With Dick Grayson, he inherited Bruce’s fighting ability while Tim Drake inherited Bruce’s detective skills and Jason Todd inherited Bruce’s grit. When it comes to Damian, he is someone that, like Bruce, enjoys being the most prepared person in the room. He will purposely spend all his free time finding information and developing ways to defeat others. That is a very Bruce thing to do.
We see that exact thing in action with the opening battle between Gotham Girl and Robin. Gotham Girl had Robin completely outmatched in terms of powers. But thanks to knowing Gotham Girl would come after him Damian had already prepared counter measures to fight her. This was easily one of Damian’s best moments as Robin thus far.
What I especially loved about this was how King used the established rule in the DC Universe that when it comes to Superman-level characters the best way to deal with them is to use magic. Especially with Gotham Girl still being a rookie character she has no experience with magic being a possible counter during a fight. Damian breaking a Zatanna-like spell was well in-character and a great drop the mic moment that showed Gotham Girl still has a long way to go.
The fight that Robin has with Scarecrow and Zsasz in the middle of Batman #77 was another great way to build up the hype for the eventual fight with Flashpoint Batman. This was again a showcase of how badass Robin is. It was a reminder to readers that Damian who aren’t reading his adventures in Teen Titans that he is not a Robin you should overlook.
Having all this build up made the way King had Damian confront Flashpoint Thomas Wayne an even better scene. Damian revealing he knows all about the Flashpoint Universe and all of Thomas’ failing was a great dagger to the back. This made Flashpoint Thomas’ continuing to state that he is the one and only Batman come across as something he is trying to make himself believe. It was a great turn around that made Damian calling Flashpoint Thomas a fake Batman a strong point in this issue.
At the same time, it did make sense that Flashpoint Batman would beat Robin. Unlike Bruce or the other Batman Family members, Flashpoint Thomas has no connection to Damian. And like he showed in his fight with Bruce in “The Fall and the Fallen,” Flashpoint Thomas Wayne isn’t someone that holds back against anyone. This fight highlighted the biggest obstacle that Damian has as Robin since when he comes up against someone with almost identical fighting abilities the strength and height difference is even more important in a fight.
All of the great character work done with Damian Wayne properly built the moment that will have everyone talking after reading Batman #77. And that is Bane showing no mercy when he killed Alfred Pennyworth in front of a beaten and tied up Damian Wayne. As soon as that splash page was shown the entire mood of the “City of Bane” turned. There is absolutely no messing around in this story arc. One wrong move, as Damian made, will be the end for everyone. The shocked expression in Damian’s face as tears ran down his face punctuated how important this moment was.
Making all of this even more chilling was the fact that Flashpoint Batman and Bane now plan to use Damian as there new prisoner against the Batman Family. That is a devastating realization that Damian has when he admits that no Batman Family member would come save him after Alfred’s death. Seeing Damian admit that just put into question everything about how you would think Batman and the Bat-Family would be able to save Gotham from Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne’s control.
During these scenes in Gotham City King also did a good job with writing the supporting characters in Batman #77. King continued Gotham Girl’s character arc as we continue to see how she is developing into an overconfident person. The more she uses her powers and “saves the day” the more this character flaw is being showcase. And with how haphazardly she is using her powers King has the question of if she will end up suffering like she did during the “The Price” story arc.
King’s portrayal of Selina Kyle as the defiant voice of reason for Bruce was also well handled. Especially since Selina has been MIA in Gotham City she has not gone through all of Bruce’s experiences. With how this story has been built that is the voice that Bruce needs to hear. He needs someone to hype him up since he has been completely broken, with his motivation clearly lost.
Her belief that she can help him made the current broken and lost mindset Bruce is carrying standout even more. Even when Bruce tries to confidently state that he has to go back to Gotham City it comes across as half-hearted. This isn’t the confident Bruce we are used to seeing as Batman. What Bane and Flashpoint Batman have done has worked in every sense of the word. Before Bruce can truly get Gotham City back he needs to find his normal drive or else he is just walking into his death sentence.
For their respective parts in Batman #77, Mikel Janin and Tony S. Daniel turned in their usual quality of artwork. Janin’s art through the Gotham City scenes got over how dark things are in the city. He also did a great job with showing how skilled Damian is as Robin. And with how big of a moment Alfred’s death was Janin got over all the emotion that scene carried, especially with Damian’s reaction to it.
Similarly, Daniel was able to get over how lost Bruce was during the scenes in Paris. Even when he is talking about how he has to go back to Gotham City it is clear his heart is not fully into the fight. He is too accepting of his defeat right now and Daniel’s gets that over with all of Bruce’s facial expressions.
The Bad: Oddly enough the weakest part of Batman #77 was Bane. Even though this story arc is named “City of Bane” the villain continues to be almost a non-presence in this issue. He for sure gets the biggest moment in this issue as he is the one that killed Alfred. But his appearance in “City of Bane” has been extremely rare, even though he is the one that made all this happen. This has forced Flashpoint Batman do the heavy lifting and make it feel like this is more about him than the success in how Bane systematically was able to gain control of Gotham City and break Batman.
Though Janin and Daniels do their best to keep the art in Batman #77 consistent it was very obvious when the artist change happened. Try as they might their styles are too different to truly complement one another. This isn’t a big complaint because Janin and Daniels respective artwork is great. It just does not work together as well as they and King likely hoped.
Overall: Batman #77 is an issue that will be remembered by fans for a long time. Tom King delivered one impactful moment after another. By the time you get to the big game changer of the issue it truly felt like nothing in the Batman franchise will ever be the same again. This is definitely an issue that all Batman fans should experience reading along with the rest of the “City of Bane” storyline.
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