Batman #81, published by DC Comics, is written by Tom King, with pencils by John Romita Jr. and Mitch Gerads, inks by Klaus Janson and Mitch Gerads, colors by Tomeu Morey and Mitch Gerads, and lettered by Clayton Cowles. The issue is the seventh installment of the ‘City of Bane’ storyline, with Batman and Catwoman trying to wrestle back control of Gotham from Bane and Flashpoint Batman.
The issue starts right where we left off in the previous issue, with Thomas Wayne deciding whether he could kill his own grandson. Damian Wayne, on the other hand, has words to say about that and speaks out against Thomas’s definition of family. Much like Issue #77, Tom King has done a terrific job of writing Damian without caricaturing him as the stubborn Robin. Instead, we see the impact of Bruce’s teachings and relationship with his son in a way that doesn’t register or come across with Thomas, as Damian explains how Alfred, Barbara, Tim, Duke, and Cassandra Cain are more his family than Thomas.
This delving into the differences between Thomas and Bruce is really intriguing and makes use of what could easily have been a cheesy ‘one and done’ cameo from the fan-favorite Flashpoint Batman. Thomas’s use in this storyline instead helps to strengthen Bruce’s character both mentally and also regarding his decision to be in love with Selina. Bruce is a damaged individual, that much is clear, but his involvement with the Bat-Family and their training seems to genuinely come from a place of love and care. Thomas, on the other hand, looks at his son’s predicament as a weakness – which makes sense considering his reality involved dealing with his pain in a more violent way than even Bruce could imagine.
Much of the issue is narrated by Batman and features him explaining his reasoning behind the previous ten or more issues. King does a great job of finally revealing answers that have plaguing readers during the story-arc began and they pretty much hold up. The narration helps add some context for some of the Bat-Family’s actions or lack thereof during the arc and is a perfect accompaniment to the artwork.
As with the previous issue, industry legend Romita Jr. worked on the inks for this issue alongside Gerads. It’s a brilliant style and they do a really great job of depicting the characters in that classic Romita Jr. style – depicting plenty of movement in a lot of fight sequences. The panels are split between two main conflicts, firstly with Bruce and Selina fighting criminals in Gotham and secondly, with Thomas fighting the Bat-Family.
Janson once again returns to provide his talented inks, which along with Morey’s colors makeRomita Jr.’s artwork really stand out. It’s eye-catching and helps tell a story alongside the narration. Cowels does a brilliant job of being creative with his lettering, with different sizes and fonts detailing specific attacks and also designing the speech bubbles to reflect the cadence of the person talking.
Overall, Batman #81 is once again a terrific issue of Batman that starts to fill in some of the gaps, while delving into the differences between Bruce and Thomas.
Batman #81 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Batman #81 is once again a terrific issue of Batman.