The creative team behind Batman have been saying for months that they have plans that will change the Dark Knight for potentially years to come before their run is over. The first step of that is in this issue, and if it’s the only change it will still change things forever.
Tom King, Tony S. Daniel, Mikel Janin, Norm Rapmund, Tomeu Morey, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles shake everything to its core.
Damian Wayne has ignored Gotham Girl and Batman’s warning. He’s able to take down the powerful metahuman, but finds himself bested by his grandfather with horrifying consequences. Meanwhile, Bruce wakes up and Selina informs him- they need to take Gotham back from Bane… together.
King’s two stories make the issue feel more grand an epic than just twenty-two pages. He also shows a great grasp on Damian, who he’s barely used in this run. His ego has long been his greatest weakness, and rather than making him infallible, his cockiness is what causes his downfall. It makes Bane’s actions and his punishment of Damian even more terrifying and heartbreaking. Add Batman’s doubt and determination to beat Bane, and it’s a great issue.
The art is split between two teams- Daniel, Rapmund and Morey on Bruce and Selina, and Janin and Bellaire tackling Damian’s story. It creates a discordant tone between the two threads, but in a way that actually makes it work. It casts a gloomy tone over Gotham (especially thanks to Bellaire’s dark colors), while a hopeful one for Bruce and Selina.
Janin proves his action chops in his portion of the story. Damian’s agility is a major focus, and he shows him as a small, nimble ninja. It makes his overconfident downfall land perfectly. Bellaire bathing the page in greys and browns, with splashes of brightness adds to the overall feel of the fight as well, resulting in a great one-two punch.
Meanwhile, Daniel and Rapmund’s pages are quieter and focus on Bruce and Selina, not Batman and Catwoman. They depict them as two human beings who long for each other, but you can still see their hurt and anxiety in their faces and body language. Keeping them as civilians helps the final page- the reveal of Batman and Catwoman together again- morph into a triumphant turning point in the arc.
This continues to be one of the most fascinating Batman arcs in years, and the consequences of the ending pushes the franchise into a direction that will be fascinating to see unfold.
Batman #77 is available now from DC Comics.