Batman: The Cult #1 (of 4)

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Batman: The Cult #1 (of 4)

Batman: The Cult #1 (of 4)

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Death and suicide are recurring themes in Starlin's work: Personifications of Death appeared in his Captain Marvel series and in a fill-in story for Ghost Rider; Warlock commits suicide by killing his future self; and suicide is a theme in a story he plotted and drew for The Rampaging Hulk magazine.

If Knightfall details Batman’s physical destruction, The Cult details his mental destruction—in all its gritty pulp and horror illustration. I think that level headedness is used really well in this story as a driving force to help Batman get back on his feet. In some respects, The Dark Knight Rises owes as much to The Cult as it does to No Man’s Land, with Bane using an almost religious fervour to raise an army of the dispossessed to claim Gotham as their own. The Cult caused a stir on its initial release as it was, and even today still is, spectacularly gory.With their faith now shaken after seeing their leader beaten so badly, Blackfire’s former followers freak out and tear him apart. This eventually leads to him committing a murder in what proved to be controversial events among fans of the range. So it’s a story with good moments and bad moments, but the good outweighs the bad for me, and Wray is the star of the show!

Due to Batman's absence, Bane takes control of Gotham by destroying the bridges and using debris to barricade the tunnels to trap the citizens inside and, similar to Blackfire's actions, Bane encourages the citizens to overthrow the wealthy, leading to violence in the streets. And throughout those 70 pages I’m waiting for Batman to snap out of it and take back control, and when he finally does it’s one of those moments where I go, “Yes, here we go!Militaries Are Useless: The Gotham National Guard is sent underground to deal with Blackfire's cult but are wiped out as they were scattered in three-man details who are easily overwhelmed in the tunnels. Hanging bodies everywhere and women being torn apart was a little too horrific for me, and didn’t quite fit in with the wacky feeling of Batman driving a tank and especially not with the more psychological edge the first two issues had. Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Deacon Blackfire looks clean and trustworthy on the outside, with a Heroic Build and Lantern Jaw of Justice combined with his natty priest's uniform, but he's nothing but pure evil.

For historical context, it's one year after Year One, one year before Jason Todd gets voted to death, and the same year as The Killing Joke. One tiny issue with this review- the guns Batman was using were tranquilizers- not that it matters a lot- the Cult was a disappointment. I dislike that the book presents sheer chaos, riots, and bloodthirsty homeless raging in the streets as “anarchy.And for the most part, I loved everything about Deacon Blackfire recruiting people and turning his sites on the city, but I can’t say the same about the scenes with Batman, which I’ll get into later.

Essentially, what starts as strong and focused, unravels into a bit of a mess of ideas with an abrupt, unsatisfying conclusion. Deacon Blackfire, along wit his band of homeless followers, brainwash Batman by using drugs and starvation techniques. I was less thrilled when he justifies letting a woman get torn apart by rabid homeless people for the greater good.I was going to say the ending is rushed, and I feel like it is rushed, but just saying that didn’t feel like a complete assessment of the problem. When the gun jams at a crucial moment, Batman laments, “This is another reason I hate using firearms… they’re undependable. Since Jason Todd had never really caught on with readers, and since DC was looking for a high-profile event, the company decided to kill off Robin in A Death in the Family. Most of what’s done in this story is done better in other stories, save maybe the compelling and legitimately unsettling brainwashing of Batman. You can still explore serious ideas and concepts within that formula, but dragging out the narrative to make a story feel big or important is just unnecessary.

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