Batman #76, written by Tom King, penciled by Tony S. Daniel, inked by Daniel, Sandru Florea, and Norm Rampund, colored by Tomeu Morey, and lettered by Clayton Cowles, is published by DC Comics. The issue marks the second part of the “City of Bane” story arc which finds Bane exerting an iron grip on Gotham in the Dark Knight’s absence.
Much like in previous issues of Batman, King’s script feels rather aimless. The bulk of the issue is split between three events; Flashpoint Batman hunting criminals on orders from Bane, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne discussing how to battle Bane, and Catwoman nursing Batman back to health.
The villain hunt, featuring Kite-Man and Scarecrow running for their lives, was the only part of the issue that kept me engaged, as it plays like a horror movie featuring Flashpoint Batman as the monster. It’s also a chance to see how the various members of Batman’s rogues gallery are dealing with the new status quo, especially Kite-Man. Kite-Man has been a highlight of King’s run and he is in top form here, especially when he breaks down and confesses his fear about the new state of Gotham. Readers will also get a first look at Kite-Man’s Kitequarters. Yes, you read that right.
Curiously, Bane is entirely absent from the issue and that’s a shame. I understand that King is trying to make his presence felt throughout the nightmare that Gotham has become, but that can only go so far. If a story arc is named after a certain villain, then that villain should be front and center for a majority of the storyline. Hopefully, future issues rectify this. Batman is also on the sidelines after being wounded in the last issue.
On the other hand, Daniel’s artwork fares far better, lending a cinematic vibe to the proceedings. He favors close-ups of characters’ faces, often pulling back or closing in on them in the progressing panels. From Catwoman leaning in to kiss Batman to Kite-Man being assaulted by Flashpoint Batman, the art is absolutely stunning.
The highlight of the issue is a conversation between Tim and Damian; the two boys start arguing with each other, which then shifts into Damian admitting that he misses their father. Even though both Robins wear masks, Daniel highlights the rage and fear in their faces. Morey’s colors also lend to the cinematic vibe, especially in the Gotham scenes. The city is caught in a torrential downpour, with the occasional flash of lightning. Morey colors these scenes with a dark blue hue, which adds to the foreboding vibe.
Batman #76 is an extremely conflicting issue; the stellar artwork is hampered by a plodding, aimless script. Comics are a team effort and everyone should be bringing their A-Game to the table. If even one element is off, it can affect the entire issue. Good art can only carry you so far and I hope that King picks up the pace in future issues.
Batman #76 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Batman #76 is an extremely conflicting issue; the stellar artwork is hampered by a plodding, aimless script. Comics are a team effort and everyone should be bringing their A-Game to the table.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.