In Batman #38, we got a one-off story about a potential new villain in the making. It was an unexpected but extremely well received story, one that was promised to be followed-up upon. That follow-up finally arrives with Batman #61.
Tom King is joined this issue by Travis Moore, Tamra Bonvillain, and Clayton Cowles. They tell a story that’s tragic and frightening, especially in its implications for the future.
We begin with what apparently is the tale of the Wayne murders. However, Batman and an older Commissioner Gordon are present, and are instrumental in solving the murder. In this version though, Batman solves the murder and brings the killer to justice. Clearly, everything is not as it seems…
Though the first part of this story was billed as an origin of a new villain, this issue makes it clear that the story is much deeper than that. This is a story of how damaging the world of Gotham could be, and the unique psychoses that could spring from it. In that, King makes young Matthew a deeply damaged and tragic figure, a mentally ill person who needs help. This story so far has been a great deconstruction of the classic Batman villain origin.
Moore’s line work is great. Through his work, he’s quickly able to establish that there’s so much more to the story than just a weird retelling of Batman’s origin. There’s difference in the false Bruce’s body language, expressions and even the details of the backgrounds around him that leads you to the revelation about Matthew long before you actually see it on page. Bonvillain’s colors do a fabulous job with mood, and add a lot to the overall experience.
Really, the only disappointing aspect of this story is that it doesn’t follow up on last issue’s cliffhanger. And that doesn’t diminish it one bit.
Batman #61 is available now from DC Comics.