Team-ups involving numerous members of the Batman rogue’s gallery often produce interesting results. While we’ve known Bane to be in charge of Arkham Asylum for quite some time now, Batman #70 demonstrates the true level of control he has within the facility.
The issue sees Bruce finally break free of the nightmare-invoking machine. Once he achieves that, he must fight his way through an endurance round of villains to escape the Asylum.
King begins Batman #70 with the opening lines of Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. He invokes Batman’s wrath, which the Caped Crusader promptly serves up for the inmates of Arkham.
Throughout the first half, Bruce runs the gauntlet of villains, tearing into Bane for his weak plan to break him. “Is this your marvelous plan, Bane?” Bruce taunts. “After all these years of me humiliating you? Of me exposing you as a soft, feeble-minded lamb? Of me, time and again, breaking you? You answer…with bad dreams!” Of course, the reader is aware there is much more to Bane’s plan still waiting to be revealed, serving to keep up the tension even after the final page of Batman #70.
While Batman does have rage driving him forward, it can feel a little dismissive at times to see him cut through these characters so easily. Foes like The Riddler, Man-Bat, and Hush might not be able to stop Batman on their own, but still he crushes them like minor annoyances, rather than dangerous criminals. It can be rationalized given Bruce’s anger, though, so it’s a minor complaint.
Batman #70 advances the story well, setting us up for a much bigger showdown to come. It’s a game of cat-and-mouse between Bruce and Bane, in which both believe the other is the mouse.
Mikel Janin nails it in Batman #70. The artist provides us with a moody, stylish, and dynamic vision, while also remaining incredibly cohesive.
Without offering spoilers, there’s a sequence halfway through the book where the artwork shines, in which Batman meets Scarecrow. Janin perfectly ratchets up the tension in the sequence, leading to a fantastic payoff. It’s a great demonstration of the power of visual storytelling when executed well.
Of course, the stunning visuals in Batman #70 owe a debt to colorist Jordie Bellaire as well. She bathes certain scenes in unearthly monochromes, while others while others feel grimly realistic. There’s a lot of contrast in styles, but it all pulls together for an excellent final product.
Batman #70 is a great chapter in King’s ongoing run. While there’s no big showdown, it does promise that the long-running storyline is on-track and building momentum.