Batman #74

Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janín
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

After the surreal and dreamlike events that dominated issue #73, Tom King has given readers something more visceral and action packed in this new instalment of his magnum opus. With a front cover that teases a “Father vs. Son: Desert Showdown”, paired with Mikel Janín’s wonderful image of the multi-generational Dark Knights facing off in combat, this issue is very clearly putting all its cards on the table. To extremely great effect.

We pick up where we left off, with the Wayne men approaching the conclusion of their unholy odyssey through the desert. The sense of their impending collision is palpable, as King expertly crafts a slow build towards the chaos.

What really appealed to me was that the journey and moments of drama were set to Thomas regaling Bruce with a story concerning his childhood. Heavy on the symbolism, the fable Thomas imparts works on many levels, serving as both a glimpse into Bruce’s upbringing and a window into the very different mindsets of the two men. Whilst both have suffered terrible trauma in their respective timelines, Bruce could not be more different from Thomas, in terms of how they see the world.

The final few pages of the issue are what everyone’s been waiting for for months, Wayne against Wayne. Janín excels himself here, proving to be an expert at framing action, particularly the close quarters martial arts melee between two evenly matched experts we get here. The back and forth is spectacular, every blow is felt and laced with conviction and pathos. King has crafted the path of this story with expertise, the deliberate pace has really been an “all roads led to this moment” arc.

The payoff to the issue is a must read. No spoilers here, but the culmination of Thomas’ morbid plans for a family reunion come very much to the boil. With one hell of a tantalising cliffhanger ending, the path to “City of Bane” is suddenly clear and very imminent indeed.

With so much still to be resolved, both from the ending of this issue and the last few months worth of story, I can see that events are going to get even darker for our titular Dark Knight, even by Gotham City standards.

Conclusion

A wonderful issue that serves to enhance the narrative of the current arc, delve into the backstory of the Wayne family and provide hard hitting action as only the Bat-Family can provide. Batman #74 is a must read. Rewarding readers for their investment and patience, King’s masterpiece is moving up through the gears. The mind boggles at what awaits us over the next few months, it is going to be something very special indeed Batfans!

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