Writer Tom King left readers with one hell of a cliffhanger when Flashpoint Batman decided to pay his son a visit in BATMAN #60. Now, in BATMAN #61, King takes a detour from that cliffhanger to revisit one particularly disturbing tale, a tale introduced to readers back in BATMAN #38. The murders of Bruce Wayne’s parents is an event that maintains ripples throughout comic book history. It is an event that obviously inspired the creation of Batman himself. In BATMAN #61 though, King considers another repercussion of the couple’s demise, one that resonates within one unexpected individual.

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BATMAN #61 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Who is Matthew?

To summarize the narrative of BATMAN #61, the young boy introduced back in BATMAN #38, a boy named Matthew, has assumed Bruce Wayne’s identity. He perceives himself as a young Bruce Wayne, a boy who has just lost his parents in a horrifyingly tragic manner. Additionally, he perceives his surroundings to be that of Wayne Manor, even believing himself to have his own version of Alfred Pennyworth. As Matthew succumbs to his delusion, Batman manages to track down the man who killed Matthew’s parents. Sometime after, Commissioner Gordon escorts Matthew to the prison so that he may confront his parents’ killer.

There, Matthew slits the wrists of the killer before he reveals that the names”Thomas” and “Martha” have been carved into his face. Undoubtedly, BATMAN #61 gives us an intriguing start to a new tale. Matthew is one creepy character that will surely play a larger role down the line. However, it is hard to see how this story will prove its relevance. A taste of what is to come is given, but that taste is incredibly ambiguous since the narrative felt quite clunky at times. As a result, BATMAN #61 definitely sets up a new arc, but it does so in a way that leaves us empty-handed.

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BATMAN #61 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of BATMAN #61

I may sound like a broken record at this point when it comes to Francesco Mattina’s contributions to this series. However, I must note that once again, Mattina’s variant for BATMAN #61 is absolutely gorgeous. Firstly, the juxtaposition between the black and red hues truly establishes the grim tone of this issue. Thus, the balance simply exhibits a gorgeous palette of hues that make for a dynamic, transfixing image.

With this though, the artwork of BATMAN #61 felt underwhelming. There is a general lack of fluidity between the transitions of panels. As a result, much of the imagery in this installment comes across as static and clunky. It is easy to feel disconnected from Matthew’s story when it is ultimately hard to engage in it.

Therefore, I hope upcoming issues in this arc bring more energy to the art. Matthew’s darkness did not resonate with me simply because I did not attain a full understanding of it. Hopefully, the installments to come bring us deeper into his psyche through the well-developed vignettes of his character.

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BATMAN #61 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

What Lies Beyond

King has affirmed that BATMAN #61 kickstarts a distinct arc this series will explore. Therefore, it is not entirely unsurprising that this issue does not give readers much to chew on. With that being said though, I was hoping to gain more substance from BATMAN #61. I was hoping to obtain an understanding of the issue’s significance to the overarching narrative of the series in addition to Batman himself.

Unfortunately, I struggled to find that gravity. I struggled to get authentically invested in Matthew’s story. On the surface, he appears to be a compelling character. However, I need more from him to feel as though this arc is going somewhere. Thus, I hope upcoming issues in this arc make this specific storyline worthwhile and relevant. I hope to see grittier, more fluid artwork that sets the tone for this storyline.

Ultimately, I wish to better understand Matthew and fall into his psyche.

BATMAN #61 by Tom King, Travis Moore, Tamra Bonvillain, & Clayton Cowles
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
BATMAN #61 gives us a taste of what lies ahead, and that's pretty much ALL it gives us: a taste.
65 %
a new origin story
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