Free Fall “Batman” #8 (Review)
Story by: Tom King & Steve Orlando
Written by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Riley Rossmo
Batman #8 represents a polarizing aspect of comic book enthusiasm. Since I’ve been into comics, I haven’t cared to read much of any heroes beyond Batman. I enjoy the goings-on of the Bat-Family but when it comes to my pull list and what I’ll be reading religiously, only the Dark Knight does it for me. So when Batman #7 initiated a curious collaborative issue featuring guest writers and artists, I felt sort of betrayed.
It makes sense, sometimes, to divert from your path and swap in guest authors, spread big, impressive story-lines across multiple ongoing series. But in the case of Tom King’s early Batman run, it just doesn’t feel like this move was made for creativity’s sake. His arc so far hasn’t been nearly as clean as his predecessor’s debut, and even if that comparison is unfair and unwarranted, King’s run is still a bit too lost to be cross-promoting other comics like the current Nightwing and Detective Comics runs.
Batman #8 is actually the fourth part of the “Night of the Monster Men” arc that is shared across other series. It’s prudent this is clear for other readers. This approach was previewed in the last issue, but I thought it would be a one time ordeal before Batman got back on track. Instead, anyone who isn’t reading all the necessary series between Batman #7 and #8 will have a hard time following along. Toward the very end, the co-authors do go out of their way to give readers the sparknotes on what happened in between the last two issues, but it never felt satisfying to have it spoon fed in a hurry long after much of the on-page action had unfolded.
Speaking of the action, it has a few cool moments that I won’t spoil, even for those that are confused by the series-jumping like myself. For the most part though, the building-sized monsters just aren’t what drives me to read Batman. Even Hugo Strange feels altered for the worse when he’s being used for this sort of Power Rangers-like villainy. Simply put, King’s first Big Bad hasn’t carried the issues the way Batman’s stellar rogues gallery so often do. Batman works best when his nemeses are breaking out of Arkham or inflicting some sort of psychological terrorism of Batman and/or Gotham. Blowing up the proportions of grotesque creatures and throwing them Batman’s way simply doesn’t feel like Batman, at least not the kind I want to read. The next issue, #9, reignites King’s solo work with the character, and teases the idea of a Batman-curated Suicide Squad. That sounds promising, and hopefully it delivers.