A Batman, Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing Deep-Dive – Penguin Steals the Show

TITLE: Batman, Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing
AUTHORS: Tom King, Ram V, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Jordie Bellaire, Tom Taylor,
ARTISTS: Mikel Janin, Jorge Fornes, Elena Casagrande, Jill Thompson, Otto Schmidt
COLORISTS: Bellaire, Matt Wilson, Trish Mulvhill,
LETTERERS: Clayton Cowles, Steve Wands, Deron Bennett, Troy Peteri
COLLECTS: Batman #58-60, Batman Secret Files #1, Batman Annual #3
FORMAT:
Softcover
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED: March 20, 2019

***WARNING: There’s a minor spoiler ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Tyrant Wing is more or less a transitionary book. Bruce and Selina’s wedding has happened. Or rather, not happened. We dealt with a lot of the fall-out from it in Cold Days. In The Tyrant Wing we start setting the stage for Tom King’s big finale. A new opponent for Batman emerges. One that even the world’s greatest detective couldn’t possibly have anticipated.

But along the way King, Mikel Janin, and the Batman team unexpectedly do some justice for a character that doesn’t always get the love he deserves: The Penguin.

1. Penny In Your Thoughts
If you’re a guy who happens to be down on his luck romantically, I offer you this bit of consolation: If the Penguin can find a bride, so can you.

Then again, she’s dead now. So maybe that’s not the hopeful example we wanna go with.

Yes, apparently ol’ Pengers had a wife we never saw or heard about. Her name? Penny Cobblepot. Though almost 30 years younger than him, it’s quickly obvious Penguin loved her dearly. Suddenly, he’s a man with nothing left to lose. So he starts spilling secrets. Secrets about Bane…

To Tom King’s credit, this might be the most multi-dimensional take on the Penguin I’ve ever seen. We see pieces of virtually every version of the character. We get the squawking supervillain with the trick umbrellas. We get the freakish, portly gentleman with the soul of a poet. We get the unspeakably cruel crime boss. We even get a small trace of the fish-slurping monster we saw in Batman Returns. Like many Batman villains, we’re against him but we also manage to find some sympathy for him.

Like a lot of fans, I’ve given King my share of grief over some of the choices he’s made on this series. I’ll continue to do so, in fact. But he knocked ol’ Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot right out of the park.

This is most evident in issue #60. A blindfolded Penguin is locked up in the Batcave talking to Alfred. This is instantly compelling, as we don’t often see Alfred interacting with the villains, much less one he might have something in common with. They bond over, of all things, poetry. At one point, Penguin even calls his anonymous keeper, “my friend.” Alfred then feeds him raw fish by hand. It’s one of those scenes that, considering both characters have been around for decades, it’s shocking it hasn’t been done.

As the Penguin endures heartbreak, Batman punches his way across Gotham searching for the truth about what Bane is plotting. Naturally, this causes a hell of a lot of friction with Gordon and the GCPD. None of this really grabbed me, as we’ve seen this kind of story many times before. Things get a little more engaging in issue #60 when Jorge Fornes tags in for the Batman sequences.

Unfortunately, I do need to make note of one the clunkier lines in this entire run. When Batman barges into Arkham to confront Bane, he’s met by a SWAT team. As he’s dismantling them, while generally being a raging prick about the whole thing, he says among other things…

“Right now, each of you has a choice to make. Do I pull that trigger and get a Bat-boot shoved through my face? Or do I let the man go about his business?”

Yup. Bat-boot. Our legendary hero, everybody.

2. The Butler Does It All
We shift gears here. Venturing away from the main plot, we move to author Tom Taylor and artist Otto Schmidt and one of the best Alfred Pennyworth stories of the modern era. If not all time.

Given the stunt DC recently pulled with Alfred, they put out an issue dedicated to him. Various members of the Batman family shared memories of him. But frankly, something like Batman Annual #3 is a much better tribute issue. It touches on the various things Alfred does to make the whole Batman operation work. But more importantly, it dives  into why he does it and what he gets from it.

Think of it this way: Gotham needs Batman. Batman needs Alfred. So at the end of the day, what does that make Alfred?

3. Batman in Quarantine (Kind of…)
The trade closes out with a Secret Files issue that’s very much a mixed bag. We open up with a three-page Tom King/Mikel Janin story. Or rather, part of a story. As Batman is feeling the wear and tear on his body, Superman just happens to offer him access to a new kind of Kryptonite. Platinum Kryptonite, of which a single touch will grant him the same powers as Superman. The story ends with Bruce asking Alfred, “Am I enough?”

I call BS on this for two reasons.

Firstly, to just end the story on that note, even if it’s only meant to serve as an introduction, is a crime. Batman is literally offered all the same powers as Superman. And you don’t give his answer? What kinda lazy garbage is that? Over a decade ago, DC put out a story called Super/Bat that more or less had this same premise, and Batman does get Superman’s powers. It was amazing. If you want to give your own take on that story, but all means go for it. But to leave it open-ended like that? Screw you.

Secondly, while it’s not a direct line of dialogue, it’s indicated that Superman tells Batman if he touches this new Kryptonite, “Then you can fight as I fight. As you should fight. With true strength.”

No. Wrong. I understand the implication they’re making about where true strength comes from. But Superman’s “true strength” does not come from his powers. It comes from his character. From his ideals. The way he views the world. I don’t have an issue with him offering Batman super powers. But for him to suggest that’s where “true strength” comes from is out of character. Bad form.

After a story about a cop feeling long-term effects from Scarecrow gas, we get one about Waynetech drones winding up in the wrong hands and what Bruce does about it. I actually got more of an Iron Man vibe from that one. The book closes with a team-up between Batman and Detective Chimp, which is fun.

But the only other story in the issue that really sticks out is a tale written by colorist extraordinaire Jordie Bellaire. On Man-Bat’s trail, Batman secludes himself in a cabin amidst Gotham’s snow-covered mountains. As it turns out, this notorious loner doesn’t do so well when he’s forced to be on his own.

The operative line of the story is, “Truth is, I’m not such a fan of myself.”

The central idea here is really compelling. What does Bruce Wayne’s self image look like? What does a man who goes out every night dressed like a bat to beat up criminals think of himself? You could do a whole story on that.

While this was written some time ago, it’s timely to discuss it now. As I type this we’re in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. People around the world are quarantined in their homes. Naturally, that’s not always an easy thing to do. Even if you’re Batman.

4. A Bridge Worth Crossing
Is The Tyrant Wing an essential read? No. But is it a good read? Yes. I enjoyed this book more than many of the earlier books in this series. Mostly because of the Penguin. I’ll go ahead and say it: Too many people sleep on him as a character. He’s more than just a portly dude with an umbrella. He’s a scoundrel. He’s a gentleman. He’s an iconic villain.

For more of Tom King’s run on Batman, check out I Am Gotham, I Am Suicide, I Am Bane, Batman/The Flash: The Button, The War of Jokes and Riddles, The Rules of Engagement, Bride or Burglar?, The Wedding, and Cold Days.

Email Rob at at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Batman #52 Review – Ohhhh, They’re Being Cute…

Batman #52, 2016, Greg CapulloTITLE: Batman #52
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
PENCILLER: Riley Rossmo. Cover by Greg Capullo.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: May 11, 2016

***Miss last issue? Check out issue #51!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is the last issue of this volume of Batman. Because, you know, it’s the New 52. And this is issue #52. Oh, and Batman makes a list, and the important item is number 52.

I’m almost glad all these New 52 books are relaunching. They’re getting a little too cute with their number games…

A short time after the Waynes are murdered, Leslie Thompkins asks young Bruce to compile a list of things he needs to do to move on with his life. It’s not an easy list to compile, however. Years later, the things Bruce wrote down resurface in a manner that requires the attention of Batman. But what exactly is on that list?

A few quick words on James Tynion IV: His contributions to this Batman run should never be looked over. Scott Snyder may have been in the driver’s seat, but Tynion was a hell of a co-pilot with his back-ups on a lot of those issues. One that immediately comes to mind is issue #15, in which he and Jock put The Riddler over really well (and this was pre-Zero Year). Another amazing little story was “The Pit” with Rafael Albuquerque from issue #23. There are moments in this Batman series where I wondered Tynion actually understood Batman better than Snyder did. So if Snyder isn’t going to be the one to close this chapter of Batman’s career, Tynion damn sure deserves it.

Batman #52, Riley Rossmo, Leslie Thompkins, weird hairThat being said, Riley Rossmo’s art is awkward at times. He’s by no means a bad artist. He draws a pretty good Alfred. But there are panels where Batman’s eyes get a little too big and buggy for my taste. At different points he also looks a little too stringy, particularly on the final page. Part of that is Rossmo’s style, which is fair enough. But c’mon, this is Batman we’re talking about.

Also, what exactly is up with Leslie’s hair (shown left)? Is that supposed to be a retro hairdo? It’s more distracting than anything else. Why does Leslie have a cat sleeping on her head?

On the plus side, Rossmo draws what seems to be a nice little tribute to Batman: The Animated Series in this issue (shown below). He incorporates it into the story nicely. Artistically, it’s one of the highlights of the book.

The idea of Bruce creating a list like this is interesting. We don’t get to see a lot of it, which is fine. It’s probably best left to the imagination. We do see a few entries however…

  • #1. Disappear.
  • #7. Feel nothing.
  • #21. Let go of everything.
  • #33. Make them feel what I feel.
  • #45. Don’t let anybody else leave me.

Batman #52, lightning bolt, Riley RossmoWhat’s great about these sentiments is that while these feel like things a child might have written, in different ways you can apply them to both Batman and young Bruce Wayne. Tynion, Rossmo, and the team do a lovely job of illustrating that. They also hit us with a really good tearjerker in the second half of the issue when Alfred makes an addition to Bruce’s list.

Batman #52 is a serviceable conclusion to this volume of The Dark Knight’s adventures. Thankfully, Tynion returns to Batman’s world next month in Detective Comics #894. I’m pleased to see him getting the top billing on a Bat-book. He’s earned his stripes in Gotham City. While this may not be his best work, he’s got a chance to make some great comics going forward. That’s good news for both Tynion and Batman.

Image 1 from gamespot.com. Image 2 from comicvine.com.

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A We Are Robin #1 Review – Remember When He Dropped His Fish?

We Are Robin #1 coverTITLE: We Are Robin #1
AUTHOR: Lee Bermejo
PENCILLER: Jorge Corona. Cover by Bermejo.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 24, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I must be getting slower in my old age. It took me a little extra time to realize that Duke Thomas was the kid Batman said “You dropped your fish” to in Zero Year. (As I recall, he may have done a little more than that.) But the fact that we’ve now followed this kid from that story, through Endgame, and now to We Are Robin, is pretty cool.

That being said, the debut of We Are Robin would have been great with or without an established main character. It’s the kind of street-level Gotham City book that should always have a place on the stands. I found myself having happy flashbacks to Gotham Central while reading this issue. While the two books are different in almost every way, We Are Robin strikes me as the kind of story that will, like Gotham Central, help us get better acquainted with the city and those who live there. It’s tough to argue appeal that has.

We Are Robin #1, opening pageWe Are Robin stars Duke Thomas, an inner city kid whose parents were infected by the Joker virus released during Endgame. Subsequently, they’ve disappeared, and Duke has become obsessed with finding them. As we see early in the issue, his quest has a penchant for getting him into trouble. Luckily, he’s about to get some help. It’s unexpected, and most certainly unconventional. But through these new allies, Duke may become part of something bigger than he ever thought possible.

I’m always partial to books with a good lead, or opening line. We Are Robin #1 has one of the best leads I’ve read in awhile…

“Someone told me that the problem with youth is the inability to accept your own mortality. I wouldn’t consider this one of my problems.”

I feel like this should have been the opener for a teenage superhero book a long time ago. We’ve certainly had no shortage of dead kids in our escapist picture books over the years. And of course, it’s a great introduction to the Duke Thomas character, who comes off pretty likeable here. He’s intelligent, witty, virtuous, and isn’t short on moves. It’s just a shame his history is tied up in something as…irritating, as Zero Year.

We Are Robin #1, Leslie Thompkins, Duke ThomasThe appearance of Leslie Thompkins in a counselor role for Duke is encouraging as far as future issues are concerned. Leslie has largely fallen by the wayside in recent years, especially since the New 52 started. A street-level book like this is tailor-made for her, and will hopefully flesh out her role a bit more.

The issue has a more cartoony, animated feel than you might expect from a book like this, especially given the Bermejo cover. But given what I can only assume will be the youthfully exuberant tone of this book, I expect it’s a justified approach. Obviously we’ll know more once issue #2 hits the stands. My only real complaint regarding the art here is a panel we see early on, where Duke is throwing a kick with a leg that looks a little too stretchy. Maybe he’s been drinking Gingold? (Look it up, noobs.)

We Are Robin #1 is encouraging. From a marketing standpoint, it’s got a lot of what DC is looking for right now. A youth focus, much like the revamped Batgirl, as well as Gotham Academy. We’ve also got a non-white lead to help fill the diversity quota. But more importantly, this book feels compelling and fun. For so long, DC seemed to forget that comics are, ideally, supposed to be fun. Thankfully, that little factoid seems to be a priority for them again.

Image 1 from washingtonpost.com. Image 2 from comicvine.com.

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