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Batman #71 Review

Janin’s art is as excellent as always and Fornes has been a revelation since joining the art team.

Batman sits exhausted from his recent nightmare ordeal. Bane and Thomas Wayne have breached Wayne Manor. The members of the Bat-family come to Bruce’s aid, but things may be beyond help already.

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It does get frustrating.

Not everything Tom King has done with his time on this title has been stellar. There are moments, and sometimes entire issues, where the negative sentiment from the fans is more than warranted. Not to the point of death threats, that’s just insane, but the audience for the book always has a right to their opinion. I could be wrong, but upon reading this issue, Twitter may be about to feel their anguish yet again.

This isn’t terrible by any means. If nothing else, this book is worth the $3.99 for Andy Kubert’s stunning cover artwork, Mikel Janin’s high-quality art style and emotive storytelling capabilities, and Jorge Fornes inheriting the David Mazzucchelli mantle with every shadow panel that graces the page under his pencil. This book’s perennial status in the top 10 month-to-month is warranted for the artwork alone.

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Also, eagle-eyed fans will really appreciate the strong underlying Knightfall themes and feel of this issue.

No, it’s not terrible but there are definitely moments in this issue that just don’t work.

While there’s a lot of attention paid to continuity (Tim Drake with Young Justice and Ric Grayson for example) there are also some glaringly incongruent panels that are real detractors.

Gordon is written poorly in this issue. His frustration misses the mark and he comes across far from being a trusted ally who’s had his faith in Batman shaken. He feels more like any other cop in any other police vs vigilante narrative. Barbara feels dropped in too. I realize we need to put her character into the story somehow, but again it just doesn’t make narrative sense or feel right in terms of pace.

I get that this story is going somewhere (at least we like to hope it is) and as a writer King can set up the pieces any way he chooses. But you have to feel for other creators like Tomasi, Tynion, Snyder, who lovingly poured so much work into the supporting cast to have them underwritten or changed too far away from some real high points to serve the story.

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King at least deserves the benefit of the doubt for one issue. He’s planted seeds and loosened threads since the beginning of his run that have taken their good time to pay off. But my gripes with this issue are more about the current quality of the work more than anything.

I guess with the up and down, hot and cold, pattern of this book we can only hope that next issue will be a vast improvement?

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Batman #71
Is it good?
It has some shocking moments, and some non-linear narrative you’ll either get or be confused by. But the characterizations of the Bat family are a little off here and the dialogue isn’t exactly a strength of this issue. It might represent a low point after a very solid first part of this arc, or it might be a sign that Tom King’s run needs an injection of a new direction. Still, he managed to steer the previous Knightmares arc home strong, so there’s no need for alarm bells yet. Janin’s art is as excellent as always and Fornes has been a revelation since joining the art team.
Jorge Fornes is a seriously talented artist and this is one book were a split with Mikel Janin's excellent art actually works.
The mood of this book is a strength. So well conveyed it's palpable.
Another stellar cover by Adam Kubert.
Some off characterizations.
Pacing issues.
Some questionable motivations hurt the momentum of the story rather than drive it forward.

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