Promise Her – “Batman” #9 (Review)
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Mikel Janin
After the disappointing ‘Night of the Monster Men’ arc, I had begun to lose my faith in Tom King. Through eight issues, I found myself oddly disinterested in the goings-on of Batman, something I haven’t felt since I tried to rewatch the Schumacher films as an adult. A new arc has begun now, titled ‘I Am Suicide,’ and though issue #9 serves as only an introduction to this arc, it looks to be the best the author has scribed so far.
Right away on the first page, one of the issue’s best attributes greets you — the new artist. Personally, I didn’t have an issue with Finch’s work thus far. It was stylish without being subversive in the way a mainline series usually demands. For this arc-introducing issue #9, it’s now Mikel Janin on pencils and inks. There were several standout images throughout the 20 pages, one of which I’d love as a laptop background, in fact. They say you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, but in this case, I didn’t know what I was missing until I had it. Janin’s work is just a bit darker, more intense, than Finch’s. If he’s the new tag team partner of King’s, I’m for it.
On the story front, King uses issue #9 like a hype man at the beginning of a UFC fight or a hip hop song. It’s a lot of “awww yeah, are you ready for this?!” but I bought it all. I’m all in with this arc. A few months ago, when a few issues made reference to the Suicide Squad, I suspected it was inorganic promo material for the movie. I’ve changed my tune in that regard. Sure, this could still be used to boost impending digital and retail sales of the movie, but I think there’s more here than just a bottom line for Best Buy and Redbox alongside DC. The story feels worthwhile, and it’s the most exciting it’s been since Snyder left. The whole run, to date, has lacked villains. This has really been my biggest concern. Watching Batman walk through Arkham to handpick his team of inmates, all of whom he put there in the first place, was some of the coolest storytelling I’ve seen in a while for the hero.
Issue #9 is certainly not full of action, but it’s well aware of that. Instead, it uses its time wisely to set the table for what’s coming. King and company still have to deliver on what they’ve introduced, but the road ahead looks more enthralling than anything this crew has done so far.