We’ve heard about Bane’s plan to “break” Batman for dozens of issues at this point. In Batman #71, though, it’s possible that Bane may finally achieve his long-term goal.
Bruce calls on Barbara to assemble the Bat family, prepping the assault on Arkham promised in our last issue. As predicted, though, there’s much more to Bane’s plan than a simple hero/villain throwdown.
There’s been a tendency by some writers over the last couple of decades to try and make Batman into a superhuman force. However, we can’t lose sight of the fact that under the training, discipline and expertise, he’s still, fundamentally, a man. He, like anyone, has a breaking point. He’s still vulnerable—both physically and psychologically—a fact King drives home in Batman #71.
Bruce is losing his grip on reality in the book. His friends and closest allies are beginning to doubt his mental state. While he remains convinced that what he saw and experienced is real, no one backs up his version of events. The story is thus told in fragmented manner, reflecting Bruce’s own deteriorating grip on reality.
With Batman #71, King advances the larger plot, delivering a chapter that manages to be satisfying, while also raising even more questions and deepening the intrigue. He takes the story in an interesting direction, setting up a major turn in issue #75, which King describes as “essential”:
It’s drawn by @TonyDanielx2, it’s oversized, it kicks off a huge event, it’s an essential part of a culmination of DCU stories, it’s the pay off to the final, infamous page in Batman 50. As for Selina…
Yeah, it’s a big one. https://t.co/Rp8ewUpYy5
— Tom King (@TomKingTK) March 18, 2019
The few complaints to be had here are more stylistic nitpicks. For instance, King has a certain…penchant…for ellipses. He often uses them to illustrate pauses or hesitance in dialogue, and they tend to pervade most of his work. That tick kicks into overdrive in Batman #71, though, forcing us to read everything in fits and starts.
Overall, it’s a solid chapter in King’s run, making up for a lot of the tedium of the Knightmares story.
Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes provide excellent visual work on Batman #71. The pair divide the pages into clean grids, breaking the pattern only for purposes of effect. This gives the work a sense of cohesion, allowing the reader’s eye to flow smoothly down the page. When the artists then opt to expand out into a wider panel or a spread, it feels motivated, rather than arbitrary.
We have some fairly striking imagery, largely focused on dynamic character illustrations paired with minimal backgrounds. This is especially true in the book’s second half, as the action starts to pick up.
The heavier lines work to underscore the imagery, giving the art a substantial, heavy, and imposing vibe. Then, Jordie Bellaire’s colors come in, further driving home the impression. She opts for a lot of monotone with heavy shadows, using unnatural greens and blues for effect. It’s pleasing to the eye, while also giving added weight to the lines.
Batman #71 is a great chapter in King’s ongoing saga. You’ll definitely want to grab this, especially in the lead up to whatever earth-shattering event the creators have planned for issue #75.