“So, I’m assuming this is the Bane thing he was telling me about?”
Batman and Bane come head to head once again in the second part of Tom King’s newest arc, “I am Bane” in Batman #17. Though Bane has been given a significant resurgence, Catwoman, Duke, and Alfred have also benefitted from King’s witty and endearing touch. This is especially true for the controversial Duke who seems to be coming into his own as a DC superhero rather than a simple sidekick. David Finch’s crisp pencils certainly help as he modernizes classic costumes and settings with the ease of a master illustrator. His is a Gotham City with dark and dank corners and shifty, maniacal characters that leap off the pages. Though the story seems to be exploring the same themes and confrontations over and over, it does little to stop the fun contained within.
Batman has gone to almost ludicrous lengths in preparation for his encounter with Bane. After neutralizing his own BatFamily in the previous issue Bruce is, seemingly, setting up a final 1 on 1 bout with the newly venomed Bane. It’s an interesting take on Batman’s controlling nature. He’s so intent on avoiding casualties that he removes his own allies from the picture. Considering their bloodlust for Bane, it seems like a reasonable plan. However, it’s surprising the ever-moral Superman nor Batman’s own team question Bruce’s decision or take particular notice of the family’s absence. But that’s merely a footnote as the different story elements writer Tom King has introduced so far begin to come together. One particularly intriguing scene has Gotham Girl coming face to face with the origin of her strife: Psycho Pirate. Not only does this meeting serve as great comic relief thanks to everyone’s favorite butler, but it begins to put the pieces of Tom King’s run together while setting up a stimulating clash between Bats and Bane.
While the issue does little to progress the overall story, we’re lucky enough to get scenes featuring Catwoman, Duke, Alfred and the Caped Crusader himself. King has a talent for making the most of every panel. Every box conveys the exact amount of information it should, leaving no fat to trim despite the numerous guest appearances. While some scenes, like Catwoman’s, can feel out of place or confusing, scenes like Alfred and Gotham Girl’s trip to Arkham help to make the overall story more clear. Gotham Girl is without the bravado that usually comes along with incredibly destructive powers, but can she retain the hero she was born to become? There’s only one being capable of giving her the “strength” to move on, and it just so happens to be the very Pirate whose influence brought about her brother’s demise. A minor but intriguing turn for the King-created hero to take. The slow-burn approach seems to be King’s favored approach. He’s been setting up this undeniably epic showdown for almost all of these 17 issues. Let’s hope the Batman and the Bane of his Rebirth can live up to the hype.
It comes as no surprise that David Finch and inker Danny Miki are once again the highlight of the issue. Every character is captured perfectly; from Alfred’s balding forehead to Selina’s sly smile every one of the Bat-Team is just as captivating as the last. The curvature of the characters’ faces once again resembles Greg Capullo’s work on Batman, an endearing and appealing homage to the title’s previous artist. Not to be outdone, recent Eisner-award winner Jordie Bellaire’s colors are equally engulfing as they depict a dark and dreary Gotham with a breath of life that can bewitch any reader.
DC knows exactly what they’re doing. Rebirth has been a remarkable success and it’s due to the wonderful creative teams they’ve put together. While Batman #17 may not hit the highs of previous issues, King and company continue to prove themselves worthy successors to their legendary predecessors. Bane may have been one-dimensional in the New 52 but here he serves as a worthy antagonist to our Dark Knight. While the story didn’t progress much, the character work develops the confrontation between hero and villain into a can’t-miss event. “I Am Suicide” may have ended with a somewhat disappointing and quiet conclusion, but “I Am Bane” looks to be the clash of titans we’ve been anticipating since issue 1.
- Blend of Classic and Modern Storytelling
- King’s Unique Approach is Paying Off
- Finch, Miki, and Bellaire’s Continued Excellence
- Even More Build-Up
- The Story’s Slow Pace