The end is nigh for writer Tom King and his divisive Batman run. With only one issue remaining after Batman #84, the "City of Bane" arc is finally wrapping up after being built up for a heck of a long time.
Now, there are definitely some intriguing aspects that have come out of this arc. The dynamic between Batman and Flashpoint Batman is certainly engaging. Additionally, the artwork has been nothing short of flawless.
With this though, the pacing of "City of Bane" and various other arcs in this run have been greatly flawed. Sure, Batman #84 provides valuable, and necessary, exposition on Flashpoint Batman's motives in teaming up with Bane. It also provides some engaging perspectives on the symbol of the Bat itself.
However, in the context of this greater arc, the issue falls flat in moving the overarching plot forward.
The Plea of the Bat
Immediately picking up from its predecessor, Batman #84 begins with Batman confronting Flashpoint Bruce Wayne, prepared for battle. Though, before commencing the fight, Batman states, "For Alfred".
A series of flashbacks then ensue, and, as aforementioned, these flashbacks provide valuable insight into Flashpoint Batman's motives in aligning himself with Bane.
Firstly, we witness Flashpoint Batman vow to stop his son-from-another-universe from continuing in his role as Batman in order to prevent his son from experiencing anymore pain. Interestingly, Flashpoint Batman's desire is deeply rooted in desperation.
Well, Flashpoint Batman's career as The Dark Knight has been a bitter one. Thus, he wishes for the symbol of the Bat to die with him.
The Prodigal Son
One particularly devastating flashback in this sequence depicts Flashpoint Batman recalling how he told Bruce's mother, Martha, that in another universe, Bruce survives that fateful night in Crime Alley only to become Batman. As a result of this news, Martha commits suicide.
Eventually, Flashpoint Batman decides to make a change in his practices as The Dark Knight. He feels as though its symbol has only caused horrific consequences, so he must enact change throughout the world as he has nothing left.
Thus, Flashpoint Batman begins killing, focusing on some of Gotham City's most notable villains, and he cannot seem to stop.
So, as Batman #84 comes to a close, Flashpoint Batman makes a plea to his son in the present timeline. He begs his son to discard his cowl and enjoy a happy life as being Batman brings no semblance of joy, only darkness and pain.
Undoubtedly, the exposition behind Flashpoint Batman in Batman #84 is the issue's most engaging aspect.
Truly getting an understanding of Flashpoint Batman's psyche and his own experiences as The Dark Knight is incredibly valuable.
However, various arcs within this series have struggled to maintain cohesion, and "City of Bane" is one of them. Various issues within this arc come across as filler, intending to draw out the storyline.
Though this particular issue does provide important context, it builds upon the pacing issues of its predecessors, therefore leaving much to be desired in regard to forwarding the plot.
With this, the artwork of Jorge Fornes and Jordie Bellaire is impeccable. My favorite page, depicted above, is absolutely captivating. Their collaborative work has never failed to entrance me and remains among my favorite elements of this series as whole.
Ultimately though, the narrative of Batman has felt stagnated for some time now. Despite veering closer to its conclusion, the series has struggled to establish a formidable sequence of events to close itself out.
Thus, my primary hope is that Batman #85 provides much-needed closure and development that solidifies an appropriate end to this overall unique take on The Caped Crusader.