Batman #85, published by DC Comics, is written by Tom King, with art by Mikel Janin, colors by Jordie Bellaire, and letters by Clayton Cowles. In this final installment to the “City of Bane” arc, Bruce and Thomas Wayne finally come to blows and a few remaining secrets are revealed. After delving into the history of Thomas Wayne in the last issue, Batman #85 has a monumental task at hand with wrapping up all the remaining story threads in King’s run.
When it was revealed that King’s run on Batman would be coming to a close sooner than expected, fans were left wondering whether his long-term story would be able to fit in the remaining issues. Unfortunately, the conclusion to “The City of Bane” arc feels rather rushed – as though DC just wanted to get this story wrapped as soon as possible.
“The City” of Bane arc itself has been full of interesting ideas that have helped expand the Batman mythos, particularly in terms of Bruce’s relationship with Selina and whether he can balance a somewhat normal life with being Batman. It’s also introduced some controversial shake-ups to the status quo, namely the death of Alfred Pennyworth. While this could eventually be retconned down the line, at the moment it’s interesting to see where future writers go with this plot-point.
The core focus of the arc is between Batman and Thomas, but after having been built up for so many issues, their key fight is ultimately over before you know it. King does a good job of concluding the emotional relationship, however, with Thomas finally realizing that he’s lost and Bruce letting him know that he is not his father, a nod to both his Thomas and the man who raised him, Alfred.
Between these fight scenes, readers are shown various cut-aways which deal with wrapping up different characters arcs. These include Kite Man, Selina and the marriage, and Gotham Girl. All of these threads needed to be concisely concluded in a somewhat reasonable manner. King does his best to do so, but it ultimately comes across as rushed. For example, Psycho Pirate is just there, as nothing really happens to his character at all.
While Janin does a fantastic job of drawing Batman, Catwoman and all the costumed individuals, he really excels at bringing life to Gotham and the human alter-egos of these characters. His Bruce and Selina are always a joy to see visually in these books and help to bring King’s words and adoration for these characters to life.
Bellaire returns to provides some excellent colors for this issue, making perfect use of lighting and various shades to distinguish whether a scene is taking place in the past or present as well as what emotions should be felt. For example, the final farewell between Gotham Girl and Batman could very easily have been set at night with a brown-red like Gotham skylight, but instead is portrayed during the daytime shown by the bright Gotham sky hinting at a bright future for Claire. Cowles’ as always knocks it out of the park with the lettering for this book, using the right box-designs to bring sounds and the script to life.
Overall, King’s run on Batman ends rather abruptly and is in many cases unsatisfying most likely due to the sudden exit of the writer. However, the issue does have its bright moments that are sure to continue in the upcoming Batman/Catwoman series.
Batman #85 is available now wherever comics are sold.
King’s run on Batman ends rather abruptly in Batman #85, and is in many cases unsatisfying most likely due to the sudden exit of the writer.