What makes a great superhero comic? It’s a tough question. You can look back through the decades and a few really standout: Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man, Brubaker’s Captain America, Johns’ Justice League and Snyder’s Batman. And in all honesty, I’m not sure where you put Hickman’s run at Marvel in the 2010s? It spawned two of the best events in the last decade, Infinity and Secret Wars, and somehow it was all connected. What he did is beyond words.
What do all these comics have in common? Sorry, it’s not some out-of-the-box answer, but simply, a clear beginning, middle and end. And that does make a difference. It gives the reader a sense of completion, which is vital if you’re making a classic comic book run.
Let’s a take a look at King’s story so far, shall we? (Minor Spoilers For King’s Batman)
King’s Batman started with two new heroes saving Bruce’s life, Gotham and Gotham Girl. Two heroes on the same power-level as The Man of Steel. And yeah, their powers had a few catch-22s. And they were also inspired by Batman as he saved their parents one frightful night. So, Batman, thought these two could be the heroes that Gotham deserve. Because at the end of the day, Bruce is just a man, and these two are gods.
And this is the first part of King’s story: Batman feeling inadequate. It’s mirrored nicely with the villain, Bane. Most people think Bruce always win, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Almost everything he touches ends up badly due to his obsessive nature. He can never have that moment of peace that we all so desperately want. The peace which Bane found in Psycho-Pirate, which Bruce then kidnaps in order to help, Gotham Girl. overcome overwhelming grief due to Hugo Strange’s meddling, and her brother’s death. Because he failed her. This led to one of the all time great fights in Arkham with Bane. But something magical happened during all of this:
Batman found love with Selina. Bruce bared his soul to her, and she never flinched. He told her the time he lost his sanity in The War of Jokes and Riddle, and she still loved him anyways. Bruce was finally happy. He even went on a double-date with Clark and Lois. And this all led up to Selina and Bruce being married – Alfred was Bruce’s Best Man (one of the most beautiful moments in 2018), and for some odd reason, Holly was Selina’s Maid of Honor (Bruce let her breakout of Arkham for it. Crazy in love.) – and they even had a drunk judge to make it legal; while they were in their costumes. Hey, it’s why some people love comics, and well, why some don’t.
We all know what happened: Bane got inside Selina’s head by making her think that Bruce cannot be Batman if he’s happy. Before King’s run, I would have agreed, but now, it’s utter poppycock. And so she left him. Bane is trying to break the Batman. And don’t forget; the Beast just shot Dick Grayson in the head. And Batman then trudged through a Russian winter land to find him. Which is the Caped Crusader most of us know and love. But why can’t Batman be more?
And so, King is about 60% done with his Batman story. And you’re probably still thinking: What makes King’s Batman so good? Firstly, he’s giving us a complete story. The rise, the fall, and the risen. Secondly, he’s challenging the way we view the Dark Knight. Snyder’s run was full of epic moments with The Joker, and Alfred not wanting Bruce to go back to Batman because of the pain.
But in King’s version, Bruce can have it all. The pain which sculpted him is still very much there, but it’s not at the forefront, something else, something more powerful, something that’s even more worth fighting for: Peace.
There’s no other superhero comic out today that’s telling a story this complex. That’s going through all the human emotions. Most comics today are dealing with trendy topics that will age poorly. The human struggle is everlasting. Is this story perfect? No, not by any means. But when you’re telling a 100 issues in four years, well, try not to be so picky. Also, most people wouldn’t know that Booster spend several issues trying to stop Superman from changing the fate of Krypton, and then, on a whim, change history as a wedding gift for Batman. Or Catwoman beating up three Speedsters. That’s just King having fun. If you focus on that stuff, then you’re missing out on the bigger picture.
What Do You Think Of King’s Batman?
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