Batman #74 is published by DC Comics, written by Tom King, illustrated by Mikel Janin, colored by Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by Clayton Cowles. In the conclusion to “The Fall and the Fallen” story arc, Flashpoint Batman reveals his motives for taking the Batman of this series into the desert as they reach the Nein Pit, which happens to be Ra’s Al Ghul’s best-kept secret. As father and son trade blows, both verbal and physical, the entire issue is underscored by a Russian fairy tale, The Animals and the Pit, that Thomas used to read to Bruce as a child.
My fellow contributor Lizzy has spoken about how the Batman title has started to feel cumbersome, and after reading Batman #74 I’m inclined to agree with her at least, where the writing is concerned. King’s script stretches out a relatively brisk sequence of events over 21 pages, and it all boils down to Thomas, Flashpoint Batman, reminiscing about Bruce’s childhood and how he wants him to stop being Batman, ultimately comparing it to an addiction.
I’ve always felt that the Flashpoint Batman would make a great adversary for Batman, considering their relationship to one another and their difference in methods. That said, it has never sat right to me that Thomas would go so far as to team up with Bane to stop his son’s activities as Batman. Thomas’ words are also massively hypocritical, given that he took up the guise of Batman in his universe and arguably is addicted to dealing out death to criminals.
Janin and Bellaire fare far better in Batman #74 with their artwork, especially Bellaire’s colors. The issue starts with hues of golden yellow as Thomas and Bruce fight for their lives; then transitions to a cool blue during the night, and finally to a fiery, hellish red when the Batmen enter the Nein Pit.
These colors are the perfect compliment to Janin’s artwork, which has taken on a slightly more rougher hue here. Janin ‘s design work for the Batmen is especially inspired, with Thomas sporting a look similar to the Knightmare Batman from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Bruce rocking the classic shirtless look from the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams era.
The most stellar sequence in Batman #74, however, is toward the end when the Batmen come to blows. The creative team fires on all cylinders here; King underlines the savagery of the fight with passages from The Animals and the Pit, Janin draws the fight in stunning, bloody detail so that the reader feels the weight of every punch and kick, and Bellaire’s apocalyptic colors give you the sense that Bruce and Thomas are literally tumbling into hell as they grapple with each other. It’s a perfect example of what happens when the right creators work together.
Even though the final issue of “The Fall and the Fallen” is hampered by a meandering script, the artwork is a visual treat and the last four pages are a perfect example of how a good creative team can bring out the best in each other.
Batman #74 is available wherever comics are sold.
Even though Batman #74 is hampered by a meandering script, the artwork is a visual treat and the last four pages are a perfect example of how a good creative team can bring out the best in each other.
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.