For the last three plus years, we’ve seen a cat and mouse game between Batman and Bane play out. However, the series has made it clear that we haven’t exactly known who is the cat and who’s the mouse until Batman #81. However, the issue also makes it clear that a third party may have been one step ahead of both of them…
Tom King, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles lay out the play, while Mitch Gerads illustrates a haunting epilogue…
Batman and Catwoman continue their vendetta through Gotham, bringing them face to face with Bane himself. Meanwhile, in the Batcave, Robin and the Bat-family ambush Thomas Wayne. Bruce details the entire plan to Selina, showing he was one step ahead of Bane the whole time, thought he didn’t plan for everything. However, do things go to plan in the Cave…?
King does a wonderful twist on Batman’s hypercompetence in this issue. Normally we’d learn that Batman had everything down and he’s actually ten steps ahead of his foe. This time, yes, Batman was ahead of his foe, but King shows that he’s not perfect, as Bane gained the upper hand without his knowledge at one point.
It fits the themes of the series to this point, and reinforces not only Batman’s humanity but also that he’s better with Selina at his side. However, we also see how terrifyingly competent Thomas Wayne is, and how the Bat-family’s overconfidence could be their downfall. It continues to establish that Flashpoint Batman as one of the greatest antagonists in the pantheon of Bat-villains.
Romita, Janson and Morey continue their strong work from last issue. Though a few of the figures are somewhat stiff, it clicks where it counts. The action scenes with Bruce and Selina are strong, well-choreographed, and laid out in a way to draw the reader in and flow across the page. They also make Thomas incredibly menacing, just through the way he stands or the grin on his face.
Batman has nearly done everything he needs to in order to take back his city. However, his greatest enemy may not be who he thinks. It’s making for a great read though.
Batman #81 is available now from DC Comics.