I absolutely hate when comics reviews reveal a spoiler with the headline. But it’s almost impossible to talk about Batman #58 without it, and that’s what makes this issue by Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles great.
The story’s last arc was all about Batman realizing there’s a mastermind behind the horrible events of the last few months of his life. This arc is going to change the course of the entire mega story…
[**Major spoilers ahead- seriously!]
Oswald Cobblepot has been delivered a message. A young woman he cares deeply for is dead at Bane’s hands, summoning the Penguin to the mastermind’s feet. On Bane’s orders, he orders a hit on Alfred but at the last moment, the hit is called off. Why?
Because Batman and the Penguin stand face-to-face, with Cobblepot ready to spill the beans!
Yes, that’s right. The Penguin is turning stool pigeon.
I really did not expect King to escalate the Batman versus Bane narrative as quickly as he has the last two months. Here we are, though–as of last issue Batman knows there’s a mastermind and this issue, he has a witness. The story could swerve, but considering going in this direction already was a twist, I don’t think so.
Beyond that advancement of that story, this was an interesting dive into Penguin’s character. We watch him grapple with grief over the death revealed at the beginning of issue (never explicitly stated, but it appears to be his wife), as well as a ruthless order from Bane. Some readers have wondered why Batman has never had a Kingpin-level crimelord villain, and I think King makes the case here that Penguin is already in that role.
Janin remains my favorite artist in the Batman art rotation. His work here is raw and emotional, and not just for the Penguin. Alfred’s reaction panel in the moment that he (and the readers) think he’s about to die is just stunning.
Bellaire’s work on the color art remains a gold standard. She shifts between dark melancholy and violent bursts of color. It’s a great exercise in how the colors affects the tone of the story.
This continues to be a defining run on Batman, and I really am on edge to see what King does next.
Batman #58 is available now from DC Comics.