Review: Batman Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing trade paperback (DC Comics)

April 17, 2019

 ·  1 comment

After a couple of more esoteric-leaning volumes, Tom King's Batman Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing is a more accessible stopover as it goes, a pleasant respite if you will. That doesn't make it any less complex, however, and indeed Tyrant Wing starts back into the central mysteries of King's run, raising more questions than it answers. Batman Vol. 10 promises to be a big one, and this short volume (just three regular issues plus assorted specials) has surely whet my appetite for the next in October.

[Review contains spoilers]

"Batman finds out about Bane's plot" is the headline of this particular volume, though whether that's by accident or by design is just one of this book's many complications. This is a Penguin story, of sorts, in that Bane kills Penguin's paramour Penny (a penguin, apparently) such to express his disappointment with Penguin's work, and Penguin tells Batman about Bane in revenge. But all of that — Batman subsequently brutalizing Bane, tearing his way through the Gotham underworld, and alienating Jim Gordon — seems to be the outcome Bane wanted in order to further separate Batman from his allies.

Notably, however, when Penguin visits Bane within the same chamber in which we saw Bane in Batman Vol. 7: The Wedding, also present now is only Thomas Wayne, the Flashpoint Batman, and not any of the rest. There is plenty that does not make sense (or at least isn't clear to the reader yet) in terms of Bane's plot to break Batman; even if we take for granted that Joker and Riddler are working with Bane (though this is far from clear-cut), that Bane is working with Booster Gold's Skeets or Thomas Wayne puts Bane's plan on a cosmic level heretofore not associated with this particular villain. Thomas' presence, here and at the book's cliffhanger, brings to question whether Bane is even in charge at all, or if Bane is just a figurehead for some plan of Thomas'. I have no greater explanation for what's happening, but I surely believe the Flashpoint Batman can better plan machinations on a metaphysical scale than Bane can.

In the Grant Morrison take, Batman always had a plan, and most often in the final tally Batman was one step ahead of his enemies. That was less true in the Scott Snyder run and hasn't seemed particularly true in the King run, either. But the animosity between Batman and Gordon here, including Gordon's quick dismissal of Batman and Batman punching Gordon in the face, seemed to come so swiftly that I wondered if it wasn't an act for Bane's benefit; I'd prefer that over what seemed like a too-basic writing of Gordon and his loyalties. Equally I noted that Batman's grudge against Bane seems mostly rooted in KGBeast having shot Nightwing on Bane's command; either Batman's knowledge of the situation doesn't extend so far as to know how Bane also manipulated Catwoman, or else again Batman holding something back suggests to the reader there's more happening than we know.

DC fills the Tyrant Wing trade to semi-regular size with the inclusion of the Batman Secret Files special and the Annual #3. "Secret Files" were once upon a time a mix of short stories and who's who pages, but this new Rebirth era take seems to be short stories only; with a couple new-ish writers on board, it's something like a DC New Talent Showcase, Batman edition. But I like DC collecting other goings on in the Batman universe within Batman proper trades (I've appreciated them doing this with Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn recently, too), and even if every story isn't a blockbuster, story tone and art mesh well enough with the main tale that this didn't feel forced or out of place.

Specifically, King and Mikel Janin's three-page "True Strength" reads in part like "lost pages" from the Wedding trade, referencing specifically a scene from there. Tom Taylor and Brad Walker's eight-page Batman/Detective Chimp story is funny and emotional, exactly what you want a Batman/Detective Chimp story to be, and the clear star of the book; it's another of Taylor's growing list of successes. The story also directly links back to Dark Nights: Metal, making it too feel relevant and not just like another one-off.

Around those are smaller but no less enjoyable stories. Writers include Ram V, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, and Jordie Bellaire (who also colors a majority of the book), a diverse group of writers generally new to writing Batman, which is always a good thing. Art for Ram V's story, "The Nature of Fear," is by Jorge Fornes, who also draws part of Tyrant Wing; I have not seen Fornes much, but his work evokes David Mazzucchelli on Batman: Year One and that's always fun to have.

The Annual #3 is by Taylor and Otto Schmidt, surely a powerhouse team. It's a sweet and much-lauded story of Alfred, both on the night the Waynes were murdered and present day, and Taylor does well in writing a 36-page Alfred story that feels wholly epic and exciting. Not to be a downer, but perhaps because the story is much-lauded — and also because I felt I knew where it was going, and that "Alfred as Bruce's surrogate father" is no longer a new concept post-Scott Snyder — "Father's Day" didn't really "get me." Taylor's Detective Chimp story did choke me up, however, and in all I consider this volume a net win for Taylor. (I'm very excited for Taylor's DCeased, in large part due to to the writer's own marketing of it.)

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Batman Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing

Batman Vol. 10 looks to be about seven issues, and Vol. 11 looks to be five plus another Secret Files issue. To that end, I'm not very concerned about Batman Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing collecting only three regular issues; Tom King and company make the book feel full, and again I think having a semi-more-straightforward "Batman vs. Penguin" story is worthwhile as a change after the Mr. Freeze court case and the weird KGBeast fairy tale. King fashions the foppish, gentlemanly Penguin as someone akin to Bruce Wayne and his ilk here, as evidenced by Penguin and Alfred talking poetry across the bars of a cage; I don't, to be sure, believe Penguin has been killed here (at least, not "permanently"), and I'd be interested to see King use him more, especially as a window into the not-often-seen gilded side of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Eagerly awaiting the next one.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Batman Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 1 )

  1. I love how King is able to write a Batman who is at once eminently capable but also capable of making very human decisions. It keeps him grounded in ways he isn't often seen.

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