The interlude sub-arc for “City of Bane” slowed the momentum of the story arc that Tom King has built his entire run around. There were some strong points in exploring Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle’s relationship. Particularly, how the interlude reaffirmed their relationship after the failed wedding was nice to see. Unfortunately the repetitiveness, the biggest weak point in King’s Batman run, and bad usage of the “City of Bane” plotline made the interlude not as strong as it should have been. Now that King is returning to Gotham City for “City of Bane” things should pick up right away. At least that is what I hope will happen in Batman and Catwoman’s return to Gotham City. Let’s find out if that is the case with Batman #80.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In Gotham City, GCPD Detective Professor Pyg and Detective Two-Face stop a guy in an alleyway for being out in the streets past the curfew time. As they are about to arrest him the guy turns around and quickly knocks Professor Pyg out.
Two-Face asks the guy if he knows whose city this is. The guy responds by saying “Yeah. I know.” Two-Face fires his gun which causes the guy to say “It’s mine.” Two-Face realizes the guy is Batman. Bruce Wayne (in his mustache disguise from his time on an island with Selina Kyle) takes off his suit showing he was wearing his Batman costume underneath that stopped the bullets Two-Face fired from damaging him.
At the GCPD building roof Commissioner Hugo Strange shines the Bat-Signal in the sky. Flashpoint Batman shows up. Commissioner Strange mentions Two-Face and Professor Pyg haven’t checked in, which he finds unusual. Flashpoint Batman realizes Bruce is back and that he’ll tell Bane. Commissioner Strange doesn’t believe that with how Bane broke Bruce before. Flashpoint Batman disappears before Commissioner Strange finishes his thought.
Elsewhere while on patrol Mad Hatter decides he wants to shoot a random cat for being out late. Before he can Catwoman whips Mad Hatter into a building before he can fire his gun.
In the sky Kite Man is doing his on patrol. Suddenly someone completely destroys his glider. As he falls Batman catches Kite Man by the leg with a rope. Kite Man is left stunned that Batman is back.
Elsewhere Flashpoint Batman finds Gotham Girl clutching a pole due to overuse of her powers causing her body to react badly. Flashpoint Batman tells Gotham Girl she should stay home until they can get another dose for her. Gotham Girl says Bane is out (likely the supply that Bruce and Selina stopped Magpie from shipping to Bane in Batman #79). Flashpoint Batman continues to say that Gotham Girl needs to rest while he goes to find “them.”
Gotham Girl wonders if she will end up dying like her brother. Flashpoint Batman hugs Gotham Girl and promises she won’t. Flashpoint Batman goes on to state that “he” will pay for what he has done to Gotham Girl.
Elsewhere Detective Hush asks Batman how he wants to settle things. Batman doesn’t care so Detective Hush says they will go on three. They stand across from each other and start counting. Once they get to three Batman nails Detective Hush with a batarang, winning their duel in the process.
Over at Wayne Manor Flashpoint Thomas Wayne puts Gotham Girl to bed. The Ventriloquist enters the room to tell Flashpoint Thomas that Bane has ordered Thomas to kill Damian Wayne’s.
Back on the streets Batman tells Catwoman that he already knows that Bane has given Flashpoint Thomas to kill Damian. Due to the Wayne Mansion’s defenses it will now rest on Flashpoint Thomas if he decides to actually pull the trigger.
Back at the Wayne Mansion Flashpoint Thomas puts on his Batman cowl. He marches down to the Batcave where he is holding Damian captive. Flashpoint Batman points a gun directly in Damian’s head. End of issue.
The Good: Now this is more like it. In one quick issue Tom King was able to bring the momentum that was stalled for the last two issues back. Batman #80 picks things up as if we never left the events of Batman #77 and moves all the chess pieces in play for “City of Bane” further into place for King’s big endgame involving Batman, Catwoman, Bane and Flashpoint Batman.
What worked so well when it came to “City of Bane” is that Batman #80 reminds you that this is an event that is not just about one or two people. This is about a city that has been completely taken over by the villains and abandoned by the rest of the world to deal with that status quo alone. King does a very good job in making Gotham City feel like it has been isolated from the rest of the world. There is an ongoing sense that people are afraid to even step out onto the sidewalks because the villains are the policing force in the city.
Which made how Batman and Catwoman went about systematically taking down all the villains that are part of the new GCPD even more effective. With each villain they took down there was a sense of hope being brought back to the city. The way they went about it showed that Batman and Catwoman aren’t going for the long game anymore. They are going to go with the approach that is the most efficient possible.
The way each villain was taken down also effectively showed that they weren’t at 100%. The mind control that Bane implemented by using Psycho Pirate affected villains like Two-Face and Hush weren’t acting like their normal selves.
The Batman and Hush standoff in particular stood out due to how Hush missed his shots rather than it being Batman being able to get out of the way. The way Batman react to this also showed that he knows that his villains are not acting like they should. He seemed to use Hush as a test case since Hush clearly got the shot first and then Batman quickly threw his batarang. Through that test Batman was able to confirm various things that made what he believes is going on right now to be fact.
The way that Bruce and Selina went about taking back Gotham City had interesting ramifications across the board. In particular, this issue clarified how Bane has shared certain information with different characters in how he ended up breaking Batman. Commissioner Hugo Strange’s reaction to the original Batman return showed that he has some closer knowledge to what Bane did. Establishing that showed how Bane’s plot was multi-layered as different villains played all kinds of roles in his plans.
How Bruce and Selina’s return to Gotham City affected Flashpoint Thomas Wayne was the most interesting of them all. Flashpoint Thomas has continuously shown that he teamed with Bane to stop Bruce from being Batman at any means necessary. Hearing that Bruce is back clearly pissed him off.
Which made the current position of Flashpoint Thomas further put into question what motivates him. King has built a close Robin-like relationship between Flashpoint Batman and Gotham Girl. That is shown with how Flashpoint Batman shows deep care in Gotham Girl’s current state of mind after she overused her powers.
That care for Gotham Girl makes you wonder what Flashpoint Batman will actually end up doing to Damian Wayne. Killing Damian would be a massive deal that will make Flashpoint Batman cross yet another line. But given that Batman #80 did not end with Flashpoint Batman killing Damian there may be a last second turn. The potential of a triple threat match between Batman, Bane and Flashpoint Batman would make for a very intriguing final showdown.
Batman understand the alternate universe version of his father enough to know that what happens next is left in the hands of Flashpoint Thomas added more intrigue to the story. Through this line of dialogue King showed that Bruce has reset himself and won’t be letting his emotions control him like they have since the events of Batman #50. This should make the battle Batman and Catwoman have against Bane and his forces much different than recent results.
John Romita Jr’s artwork was solid throughout Batman #80. The department Romita excelled at was nailing the tone of “City of Bane.” There was a constant feeling that the city was consumed with darkness and was abandoned by the world. The way he drew the city made it feel like the villains truly won. Klaus Jansen and Tomeu Morey further elevated the tone of the city through the inking and coloring work they provided this issue. This tone helped the impact of the quick action scenes we do get hit harder.
The Bad: Batman #80 was not perfect. There are still a lot of little things in “City of Bane” that King continues to swing and miss on for the execution of this story. The lack of Bane’s physical presence in “City of Bane” is still the biggest problem in King’s writing. At this point we are way to far into “City of Bane” for Bane not to show up, even if it is for one panels.
What makes the lack of Bane’s physical presence in Batman #80 is that King could’ve easily written him in. When Bane had the Ventriloquist deliver the orders to kill Robin to Flashpoint Batman there should’ve been a panel with him saying these orders. Having such a panel would put over how evil Bane is as he shows no remorse when doing so. But since King did not have that happen the seriousness of that order is not as high as it should be.
Which all continues to paint “City of Bane” as a conflict between Bruce Wayne and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne. That is not at all how the last 70+ issues of build up were constructed. Bane should be a much larger presence in this story than he has been.
Not having Bane around weaking this story showed itself when King revealed that the shipment Bruce and Selina stopped was the drug to keep Gotham Girl’s negative reactions in check. That is something that King should’ve made clear during “City of Bane.” It would’ve helped make the mission Bruce and Selina were on at the island during the interlude arc much more important. Without that information the whole Magpie situation came across as a distraction.
Which goes against how King has built Gotham Girl and her connection to the Batman Family up to this point. King has spent a good amount of time showing that Bruce has a deep interest in helping Gotham Girl through the issues she has with her powers and emotional state. If Bruce knew the shipment was for Gotham Girl we did not know it because King never showed how personal stopping Magpie’s shipment was. Having Bruce understand the meaning of stopping Magpie’s shipment would’ve added depth to his character arc.
That all speaks to how disappointing it has been to read issues like Batman #80 as a fan of the majority of King’s run. There are so many layers to “City of Bane” that King carefully established. Unfortunately those developments have not been used appropriately. Instead King has chosen to keep the focus on Bruce and Selina’s relationship and the last second appearance of Flashpoint Batman. Failing to do things like Gotham Girl’s connection to the Batman Family and actually use Bane in “City of Bane” are just a few examples of the major misses that King is having right now.
Though Romita delivers solid artwork I wish “City of Bane” was able to keep one artist on for the entire story. Since this is supposed to be the big conclusion for King’s run on this series, it would make “City of Bane” come across as a big event if Tony Daniel, Mikel Janine, Clay Mann or John Romita Jr. were the sole artists working on this story. But since we’ve now had four different artists working on issues of “City of Bane” it makes this story seemed rushed, especially when it is eventually collected in trade paperback form.
Overall: Batman #80 gets “City of Bane” back on track after two issues that halted the momentum of the story. Tom King and John Romita Jr. did a very good job getting over the tone of this story and delivering an ending that will have readers guessing. Unfortunately the lack of Bane and poor way Gotham Girl’s sub-plot was handled are things that continue to hold “City of Bane” back from reaching its full potential. Hopefully with Batman and Catwoman back in Gotham City these negatives can be turned into a positive, in turn creating a strong march to the conclusion of King’s “City of Bane” epic.
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