Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Artist: David Finch
Release Date: 15th February, 2017
It’s taken eighteen issues, but with BATMAN 18, it finally feels as if writer Tom King and artist David Finch have clicked on the title. Following on from last issue’s cliffhanger, the third part of “I AM BANE” sees Batman and Bane clash in a violent and bloody rematch, as Bane infiltrates the Bat-Cave hell-bent on reclaiming the Psycho Pirate from Batman and Catwoman.
King intersperses the crunching action with flashbacks showing the parallels between Bruce Wayne and Bane’s surprisingly similar (and horrible) childhoods. While this is not a particularly novel approach, indeed Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale used a similar technique in DARK VICTORY, it succeeds in breaking up the action just enough to prevent the issue from being purely a slugfest.
What really makes this issue is David Finch’s slick, muscular and energetic pencils. I’ve been critical in the past over how Finch draws expressions on people’s faces, however his work this issue is nothing short of spectacular.
There is an energy and a powerfully-built brutality to Bane, who, while reminiscent of Kelly Jones’ hulking behemoth and Graham Nolan’s intelligent brute, never descends into imitation or pastiche. Indeed, Finch’s Bane here is a marked improvement over the caricature he presented in the ill-advised DARK KNIGHT series.
As with last issue, King peppers his narrative with references to tales of the past. Fans of YEAR ONE will find something to enjoy here, even if the retcon of Gordon being the cop who looked after a young Bruce Wayne outstayed its welcome by the end of the Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY.
In fact, there is nothing in the flashbacks which haven’t been seen in some fashion before, and some of the young Bane’s dialogue doesn’t quite ring true. The obligatory cliché of Bane raising Batman over his head makes an unwelcome return, which, like the Death of the Waynes and Wolverine losing his memory, is something we never need to see again. Simply put, King is too strong a writer to be remixing past glories of former creators.
After 18 issues, I’m still wanting to see his BATMAN. As SHERRIF of BABYLON and THE VISION have proven, King has a distinct and slightly offbeat authorial voice. Sadly, this only shows in flashes, however this is the first time he has taken on a blockbuster series such as BATMAN.
These minor issues do not distract from the overall enjoyment of the issue, however. Tom King has made Bane sinister again, Dave Finch’s pencils gel exceptionally well with the tale, and the colours, inking and letters prove to be the icing on the cake.
This is another strong entry in the REBIRTH field for DC, making BATMAN a highly enjoyable, if overly familiar, title.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Gorman.