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Review – Batman #81 (DC Comics)

Batman #81 (DC Comics) variant cover art (detail) by Francesco Mattina
Overall
8.2/10
8.2/10
  • Writing - 9/10
    9/10
  • Art - 7.1/10
    7.1/10
  • Overall - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
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User Review
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Batman #81

Writer: Tom King
Artists: John Romita Jr. and Mitch Gerads
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Maturity Rating: T
Release Date: October 16th, 2019

Tom King must enjoy laughing in my face as he wraps up his run on the Caped Crusader, because Batman #81 is another gem in his cap.

The Strategy of the Dark Knight in Batman #81

I remember being so upset that Scott Snyder was leaving this title. I just knew I would step away from this book. Tom King must enjoy laughing in my face as he wraps up his run on the Caped Crusader, because Batman #81 is another gem in his cap. As Batman and Catwoman continue their march towards Bane, and by default Thomas Wayne, we get a glimpse into a brilliant strategy session from the titular character.

Writing

Batman #81 (DC Comics) Cover art by John Romita and Klaus Janson
Batman #81 (DC Comics) Cover art by John Romita and Klaus Janson

Tom King is, as always, on the ball, coach! He made his name on titles like Vision, Mr. Miracle, and Sheriff of Babylon, getting inside the psychoses of characters. His ability to give us all the shades and dimensions of Bruce Wayne is what makes this run something uncanny. He gives us that here and more, and the “City of Bane” story continues to impress. Thomas Wayne continues to be a special thorn in the true Dark Knight’s side with his funhouse-mirror Batman and Alfred. We get some nice character depth from our father-and-son combatants in this issue. Much to this reader’s delight, none of the action nor plot points feel forced. Everything in this issue moves organically and feels plausible. The steps taking to get to this point of the story are the backbone of what makes this issue a masterclass in writing. 

Art

I am a big fan of both artists who worked on this issue. John Romita Jr. and Mitch Gerads are two of my favorite artists of the last decade. Their work for DC stands on its own, yet I couldn’t get into the art on this story. I read #80 and if I recall they both worked on that one as well, so I’m not sure what didn’t click for me with this installment. Nevertheless, it’s far from what I would call bad, just a bit clunky in spots. Maybe it was the way things clashed a bit with some of the colors, but something felt off here with the pencils. This is far from an indictment on either artist, as they both (especially Mitch) work so well with Tom King. The art didn’t detract from this story at all, nor hinder it. All in all, you could fall on either side of the fence here. The colors are fantastic, as they have been throughout the “City of Bane” story. We get a certain Memphis grit and grind out of the fight scenes, and some great reaction shots that add depth to the panels.

Overall

Tom King is going out on Batman the way he came in: With style and poise. “City of Bane” puts a bow on quite a few tales that Mr. King has woven since picking up the pen on Bruce’s cowl, and he doesn’t disappoint. Nor has the foot come off the gas pedal when it comes to twists and turns with this issue. Batman #81 is another must-grab as Tom King wraps up his run on the main title, and I can’t wait to see what he has planned next for Bruce (and Selina).


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Josh Sykes

Just a guy from Detroit who really loves Oda and Scott Snyder

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