Batman: Rebirth #75
Tony Salvador Daniel (artist), Mitch Gerads (inker), Tomeu Morey (colorist), Tom King (writer)
July 17, 2019
Batman: Rebirth #75 marks the beginning of “City Of Bane,” and the beginning of the end to Tom King’s Batman run, and it doesn’t hesitate to come out of the gate with a compelling and intriguing concept.
The issue pulls us away from the desert and back to Gotham with art by Mitch Gerads. It’s nice to get back to Gotham’s gritty texture, and characters that have a bit more roughness to them. Mikel’s art always had beautiful faces and beautiful features, and Mitch carries this story into more stylized version of Gotham’s favorite rogues. The action sequences are great, and the addition of Tom King’s terribly drawn Batman covers as crime scene photos in GCPD was a nice good humored nod to their work together.
Leaving the Nain Pit behind, Batman #75 takes a two storied approach to revealing what’s transpired since Bruce’s fight with Thomas in Batman #74. The comic opens with an enigmatic splash page telling is that this all occurs later. It doesn’t give us a specific time frame to indicate how long Bruce has been wandering around, avoiding Gotham City, since his fight with Thomas.
However, no time is wasted in showing us what the new world looks like. Joker and The Riddler drive around the city like two beat cops, hot on the trail of a very obvious murder. Dr. Hugo Strange has replaced Gordon as Commissioner, and the rogues gallery is the new police force. Hush, Killer Croc, The Joker, Riddler — all of them don GCPD badges and terrorize the city of Gotham with police force.
That alone is an interesting concept to me, and one that I hope gets peeled back a bit more. The idea that the police are now replaced by the very men they were institutionalized to put away? Using the new power that Bane has bestowed on them as an excuse to carry out acts of terror on Gotham’s citizens? We see Killer Croc approach a pulled over vehicle, and the driver looks terrified. My hope is that there’s some reverence to this concept, an understanding that it represents how a lot of individuals feel about the police force.
The question of whether or not King decides to explore that notion remains to be seen, but to ignore the narrative potential would be disappointing. Comics can be a beautiful reflection of our modern world, in a fantastical and unrealistic way. If mainstream comics can lend themselves to that perspective, I always view that as a benefit.
Criminal cops are still criminals though, and Joker and Riddler soon discover that they’re looking for a murderous Two-Face, who has killed a couple and left his signature doubles all over the crime scene. After a call confirming his suspicions, Hugo Strange makes the trek to the GCPD roof to light up the iconic bat symbol once again.
Except it’s not Bruce who shows up, but Thomas Wayne, dressed as Batman and ready to hand out his own brand of justice. The rogues refer to Bruce as the “false Batman” and Thomas makes it clear that, unlike his son, he won’t hesitate to kill as he feels is justified.
While Gotham is going to hell in a hand basket, Bruce is climbing a frozen mountain, searching out an old teacher. He’s lost, broken by his father. When he stumbles upon his teacher, he realizes it’s an imposter. He gets clipped in the face with a crowbar, and the kids strip him down and leave him for dead in the snow. It’s a similar position to how he left KGBeast in Russia, but Bruce can’t seem to get it together himself.
It’s Catwoman, Selina Kyle, the woman of his dreams, who returns to him, broken. We’ve known the whole run is going to be about Selina and Bruce, and I love the notion that it’s Selina that gives him strength. That in their romantic partnership, Selina is the knight, and Bruce is the damsel, waiting to be saved, and to conquer another day.
Batman #75 opens the door to grandiose possibilities, the big question is always around the delivery. With the run cut back by fifteen issues, will all the punches be packed enough to put “City Of Bane” next to the greats? Only time will tell.