Batman is free. After being tortured by Bane and his army, Batman is ready to go to war. With the available members of the Bat Family behind him, the Dark Knight is leading them straight to Arkham Asylum. However, what if this was all just more of Bane’s plan? What if the real threat was closer to home? In this issue, we have two stories being told at once. One is the Bat Family marching on Arkham, and the other is what happens directly after. To avoid confusion, I’ll cover the events as they happened in chronological order.
Jim Gordon bursts on to the rooftop of GCPD to find Batman next to the signal. After their encounter at Arkham when Batman hit Gordon, the two have not been on good terms. Despite Gordon yelling that Batman doesn’t belong there, Batman flips the switch and lights the signal. However, Batman has switched the lightbulb in it to a red one. Jim turns it off and storms down to his office, where he finds Barbara waiting. He mentions that the bulb was red, prompting Barbara to disappear. She then puts the call out to every member of the Bat Family, however, both Jason and Ric refuse to show up, Stephanie isn’t answering her phone and Batwoman is at least twelve hours away. This leaves Batman with Batgirl, Red Robin, Robin, Orphan, Signal and Huntress, which he states is enough. He tells them that Bane has secretly taken over Arkham and the entire city, but it’s time to finally end him and take back Gotham. They arrive at Arkham and kick the door in, only to find the doctors moving about like a regular day. They leave, and Batgirl accesses the Asylum’s security data, showing that not only are the inmates locked away, but Bane is comatose after Batman attacked him in his cell. Batman tells them to talk to Alfred about Thomas Wayne’s attack on the cave, but Batgirl tells him that she already spoke with Alfred. According to him, there never was an attack on the cave, and that Bruce has been slipping more and more since Catwoman left. Red Robin steps up to offer his help to Batman, but when he tells him that he understands his pain, Batman lashes out screaming, “You don’t understand a damn thing!” and strikes his partner.
After this, the family leaves Batman by himself, and he returns to the cave. As he sits there all alone, the intruder alert goes off. He grabs his cowl and heads upstairs to the manor. When he gets upstairs, he finds Bane and Thomas waiting for him in the dining room, with Alfred waiting to serve drinks and food. Batman tells Bane he’s going to break him, and Bane responds by telling Alfred to give Bruce some food. Batman slaps the tray from Alfred’s hand, flips the table and attacks Bane. However, Bane only laughs off the attack and puts Batman down with a single strike to the head. Bruce wakes up later to Alfred standing over him. The faithful butler helps his master up before telling him, “Master Bruce, sir, listen to me. Please…You want to fight. I know. And for years, for decades, I have let you…I have helped you fight. Because I understood that you would triumph…I feel obliged. I feel honor bound, sir, to tell you. For the first time. You have lost…He’s broken you.”
Is it just me, or does it feel like Tom King likes making Batman the most miserable man in the world? As if the Scarecrow trap in Arkham dragging on forever wasn’t enough, now Batman has turned the whole family against him. And of all the ways to do it, he punched Tim in the face. I know that certain higher ups in DC don’t like legacy characters, but this is ridiculous. It’s one thing to have Batman punch Gordon (which I’m still not happy about), but to have him beat one of his most loyal partners? Tom King better have the most masterful plan ever crafted to make this all better by the end of his run. I know that King wants to show that Bane broke Batman’s mind instead of his body, but having Batman turn on his family is not the right way to go about that. Make them think he’s crazy, make them think he’s off the deep end, but don’t make him start attacking them. However, I shouldn’t be shocked. From the beginning of King’s run, he’s put emphasis that Batman can never be happy no matter what, but there’s too many books to count that proves that wrong. One of the core reasons Batman ever finds any happiness is when he’s surrounded by his family, but Tom King doesn’t seem to care about that. I used to be excited to get to issue 100 to see how King wrapped everything together. Now I just want to get to issue 101 so the character will be handed to someone who hopefully treats Batman and his supporting characters with a little more respect. It wasn’t a bad issue, I’m just getting tired of seeing all these characters broken apart in the worst possible ways.