Fear is something Batman uses, but also something that drives him. His parents were shot right in front of him–a traumatic moment he vows to never allow happen again, but at what cost to him? This issue tackles that issue and more as Batman and Gotham Girl discuss what it means to be afraid.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: David Finch (Inks by Danny Miki) & Clay Mann with Seth Mann
Publisher: DC Comics
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“Aftermath”! Gotham City is at peace…but a war is coming. Armed with the terrifying knowledge gained from the mysterious button, Batman prepares for the coming storm by making a proposition to one of his enemies–one that will change everything for the Dark Knight and his allies!
Why does this book matter?
Given what happened in “The Button,” the war he went through in “I Am Bane” and the reminiscence of his earlier days with Catwoman in “Rooftops”, Batman may very well be on the brink of giving up the cape and cowl for good. He’s been reached out to by a close family member and given the message that the whole superhero business isn’t a good fit for everybody. That topic is discussed in this issue and should be a major element that drives the character in the future. And if that doesn’t tantalize you, most comic sites have (wrongfully) spoiled the ending of this issue. That’ll make you buy it for sure!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Who is talking and where are they!?
It’s not often you can use the word “poetic” to describe a comic book, but here we are reading Batman #24 and it certainly captures that word well. Opening with Catwoman suiting up, Tom King writes captions from Gotham Girl and Batman’s conversation at the top of a skyscraper needle in the daylight. It’s a choice location for this conversation as they discuss fear, being afraid, and their relationship to it. It’s not often Batman opens up about this topic, but given his history with Gotham Girl it makes some sense. Every time she uses her powers she dies a little, and what can be more scary than death?
The setting of this conversation in the daylight is an intriguing idea because it puts them in an unfamiliar light, both literally and figuratively. This intercuts with Catwoman going out on the prowl and then eventually Batman chasing her down at night. Intercutting between the talk of fear during the day, and Batman following Catwoman at night, seems to give the entire issue a symbolic purpose. The discussion about fear spills into the night scenes too, which tethers the scenes quite well. As Batman speaks about fear he seems to be on a journey chasing Catwoman in the darkness–something people inherently fear–to do something that eventually leads to a bombshell ending. As the scenes intercut, from Gotham Girl and Batman talking about being happy, to Batman smiling with Catwoman, there’s a strong connection that’s impossible to miss. Overall it’s a great example of visual storytelling mixing with dialogue impeccably well.
David Finch and with Clay Mann may have put in their best issue of Batman yet as there’s a treasure trove of great art to enjoy, including many full page spreads, a top-down look at Batman and Gotham Girl impossibly high up on the skyscraper needle, and iconic poses of Batman. The daylight scenes are particularly striking, with a soft glow on Batman that you never usually see, but also a downtrodden and cast down Batman that seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. The imagery positively captures the heavy conversation taking place and without such great pencils I don’t know if the words could stand up so well.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This is certifiably a fast read to say the least. It’s not a bad issue, but it’s a thinker that’ll be read in five minutes or less. This is obviously partly due to the full page spreads, that make turning the pages a quicker endeavor than usual, but there’s also little action to speak of. Characters are standing around, or jumping about with no threats in sight. And that’s okay; the real weight of the story is the ideas, but it makes for a breeze of a read nonetheless.
Is It Good?
Whether or not you agree with the ending, you can’t deny there’s a poetic symmetry between art and writing in this issue. It’s a great example of how comics can lift up ideas in meaningful and visual ways without a single punch. It may be a fast read, but it’s a deeply satisfying one.