A shocking twist hits the Bat-family as Bane’s grip on Gotham City tightens.

Batman 77
Written by Tom King
Pencils by Mikel Janin and Tony S. Daniel
Inks by Mikel Janin, Tony S. Daniel and Norm Rapmund
Colors by Tomeu Moray and Jordie Bellaire

With less than a dozen issues left before Tom King’s run on Batman comes to an end, the writer has turned up the intensity on his long-running story about the Caped Crusader’s war with Bane. In this issue, things happen that are going to be tough to walk back – unless you’re living in a comic book world.

With Bruce Wayne out of commission thanks to the Flashpoint universe version of his dad – and being nursed back to health by Catwoman – Bane has Gotham City locked up. None of Batman’s family are allowed within the city limits on threat of the death of Alfred. It’s so bad for the people of the city that Batman’s rogues like Scarecrow and Victor Zsasz are out enforcing city code violations.

While Batman figures out his next moves against Bane, which he realizes will likely kill him, there’s one member of the Bat-family that doesn’t take kindly to Bane’s edicts. After his reunion with Tim Drake LAST ISSUE, Damian goes full tilt into an invasion of his hometown. He takes out Gotham Girl with the impressive use of some magic and then goes on to confront the Flashpoint Thomas Wayne.

It does not go well for him. And I always enjoy any issue where Damian gets the crapped kicked out of him. What a punk.

More importantly, Damian’s incursion into Gotham causes a pretty bad fate for Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred. With Damian beaten and bound, Bane goes about twisting Alfred’s neck, presumably killing him, right in front of the kid.

That’s a pretty hefty change to the Bat-status quo if it proves not to be a feint to add some drama – or lull Bane into a false sense of security that he has the Bat-family beaten. Killing Alfred, while having Damian as a back-up hostage, would certainly be enough of an extra knife to stick in Bruce Wayne’s gut.

And he’s on his way back to Gotham, with Catwoman at his side, to avenge his loss. Tom King totally has me wrapped around his little finger here. I have no idea where he’s going to take this story next, and I can’t wait to find out what happens.