Batman #6 might be an epilogue, but it’s easily the best issue of Tom King’s run to date as it firmly establishes the series’ tone. Heavily inspired by Batman: The Animated Series, this Batman run makes more sense now as it paints a picture of a more hopeful Gotham even in times of tragedy. Not taking anything away from the artists, but why didn’t DC enlist Bruce Timm and his team for this book? They would’ve suited King’s tone and blown all of our minds.
Back to the story (and spoiler alert!), Gotham’s death in Batman #5 has crushed his sister, Gotham Girl, who struggles to come to terms with her sibling’s untimely demise. She continues to fight crime harder than before – even though it’s killing her – and converse with her brother as if he’s still there with her. Recognising the pattern of grief, Batman tries to intervene and help her overcome the tragedy. It’s an act that shows Batman to be more human and sensitive than current incarnations of the character. In what ends up being one of the most poignant (and funny) exchanges in the story, Batman asks Alfred what he said to help him overcome his parents’ death. Alfred responds by saying whatever he did obviously didn’t work since Bruce dresses as a giant bat and fights criminals every night – it’s like a line straight out of BTAS. Realising he needs to open up and throw caution to the wind, Batman unmasks and reveals his true identity to Gotham Girl, sharing his reasons for doing what he does.
While Batman and Gotham Girl’s necessary heart-to-heart spread out across most of the issue, the final pages of Batman #6 are what Batman fans have been patiently waiting for. The revelation of Bane as the mastermind behind the ‘I Am Gotham’ storyline, and Batman’s deal with Amanda Waller to set up his own Suicide Squad, made all the weeks’ slow burn worth it. Bane’s back and Batman will be breaking bad – but first, Batman needs to battle a few monsters over the next couple of weeks…