Written by Tom King
Pencils and Inks by Tony S. Daniel
Folktale Art by Mark Buckingham and Andrew Pepoy
Colors by Tomeu Morey
There’s not that much really to talk about when it comes to what happens in this issue other than there is a pretty cool fight between Batman and KGBeast in the snow with superb art by Tony S. Daniel and Tomeu Morey couple with a paper thin story by Tom King. Intertwined with the main story is a fable about a group of animals caught in a deep pit that end up turning on each for food in order to survive. What are the themes of that story? Monkey see, monkey do, survival of the fittest, survival of the most cunning and isolation.
What does all that mean in terms of parables for Bruce and Anatoli? Did the themes of the story mold the thoughts of both of them as young children so that when they would face adversity in their adult life they would be able to do whatever it took to survive and soldier on? Perhaps, but then you have the problem that you end up alone if you have to turn on those closest to you to prevail, and what kind of life is that? At the end of the issue Bruce begs his father to sit with him because he doesn’t want to be alone, so perhaps this is why Bruce perseveres with trying to have a big Bat family in his adult life. But this is a Batman book where his wards rarely make an appearance, so it doesn’t really fit the purpose to use them as the link.
This issue was advertised as being the one where you will find out who hired the KGBeast to assassinate Nightwing, but all we get is KGBeast begging for Batman’s help with the promise of telling him who hired him if he does so, which is disappointing to say the least. Most readers are already guessing that it is Bane as Tom King has made a big effort to show us he is the architect of trying to break Bruce down mentally back in #50 as an alternative to the physical breakdown he orchestrated way back in Knightfall in the pre New 52 era, but it still difficult to fathom why DC is misdirecting the reader with its advertising- it just makes Tom King look bad unnecessarily.
With a weak story where nothing of note happens, all you can do is try to look for positives elsewhere, and the art does not disappoint in that respect. Tony S. Daniel brings his A game yet again for the final chapter of the arc with some great coloring by Tomeu Morey. There are several single splash pages of Batman in this issue that have now become an expected standard of brilliance that if you didn’t see them, you would be surprised and flick back through the issue wondering if you somehow missed them. It is joy to have Daniel on Batman and long may it continue that he returns at regular intervals.
The folktale art in this issue is by Mark Buckingham and Andrew Pepoy. It is not of the standard of Daniel and Morey, but it is not supposed to be either. Visually, there has to be a clear cue to the reader that the folktale is not the main story, and the less detailed art does this, and is further accentuated by a children’s book style border around those pages of art. To summarize, the art fits the purpose.
With the main story art the only thing to hang your hat on, it doesn’t really bode well for the issue’s final score, so the less said the better.
6 out of 10