When I first finished Batman #12, I was left wanting more. After the twist at the end of the last issue involving Catwoman, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen with the Bat, the Cat, and Bane. Instead, we are given an issue where Batman fights his way through hundreds of men again to get to Bane and Psyco Pirate, who is now joined by Catwoman. I did enjoy the issue when I finished it, but I enjoyed it so much more after I had thought about it. That’s what Tom King does. He is giving us a layered version of Batman, and I am really enjoying that.
We get another letter told throughout the comic, but instead of it being from Catwoman, this time it is from Batman. I really enjoyed the raw look at the man behind the mask. With how vulnerable he was in opening up to Selina, you would think this is more from Bruce than Batman. However, it seems that he is saying he is Batman, because the ten-year-old boy, Bruce died the day he promised to avenge his parents. We are given the line I am suicide, which is not just the name of this arc where Batman forms his own Suicide Squad, but also pointing to the fact that he died that day, and now lives as the face of vengeance. This was great writing, and it is not the first time I and many other people have said this about Tom King this year.
The one thing we’ve seen over and over again from Batman, is his parents, and how he deals with it. It’s at the core of who he is. But Tom King finds an angle I haven’t seen before. Bruce reflects on his parent’s laughter, and how he wishes he could laugh. It is such a simple thing people take for granted and it was very interesting to see him hoping for the day where he can find joy in something, and simply laugh. Bruce and Selina have always had a very interesting relationship, and he sums up why in this issue. They are the same thing. They are both dead. When they are together, and they kiss, they see each other’s deaths. Now, of course, they are not truly dead, but this shows that it isn’t Bruce being Batman, it is Batman being Bruce. He and Selina open up for only each other. That is very powerful coming from he hero of few words, and with her seemingly betraying him, you really feel for Bruce (or Batman) by the end. As much as he says he’s dead to the world, it is obvious Selina matters to him, because she makes him feel.
The art by Mikel Janín is nearly flawless. I am glad he is on this title, and I hope he stays around for awhile. Like Tom King, he is a super talent. Hugo Petris and June Chung do a nice job on inks and colors as well. Most of the comic is filled with large page filling panels with Batman either fighting a ton of henchmen or making his way through and outside of the prison. It is strangely beautiful and is a nice contrast to the dark nature of Batman’s letter, the betrayal he is feeling, and the prison itself.
While I wanted a conclusion and a final showdown between the Bat, the Cat, and Bane, this was still a great issue. It may feel like a filler or unnecessary issue to some, but either way, we learn more about Batman here, and Tom King is doing a great job at showing the humanity, the flaws, and the heart of the Caped Crusader. He is doing this to help Gotham Girl. That is what being dead is to Batman, to give his life for the city and people he has sworn to protect.
Story: Tom King Art: Mikel Janín Ink: Mikel Janín/Hugo Petris Color: June Chung
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
DC provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review