I’m not sure whether the title “I am Suicide” is becoming more or less clear as this story arc goes on. Either way, it’s a unique story arc. It’s some sort of fight between Batman and Bane, and each issue has a different flavour that adds something to the story as a whole. The first issue was nothing but build-up, as Batman recruited a bunch of criminals from Arkham Asylum to help him out. The second issue was a very introspective issue for Bane as a character. The third issue is probably the closest thing we’ve had to a normal comic yet, although Catwoman got a sizeable narration. This one is somewhere between a very dramatic story and an issue-long fight scene.
Written by Tom King, Batman 12 is … interesting. The vast majority of the writing in this comic is a letter, written by Bruce Wayne for Catwoman. It describes in detail how his feelings over his parents’ deaths developed over the years, trying to relate to whatever led to Catwoman killing hundreds of people. It’s a well-written letter that adds a lot of emotional depth to the complex relationship between the two of them. That relationship is no doubt even more complicated now that Catwoman has killed most of Batman’s other recruits in this story arc (the end of last week’s issue). There’s one particular theme within this story that might be upsetting to some. It mentions that at one point after his parents’ deaths, Bruce Wayne held a razor up to his wrist. He describes that as the starting point to becoming Batman. He sees it as the death of Bruce Wayne. Personally I don’t see this as a drastic change to Batman’s origin story, but it is causing a stir online so it would be irresponsible not to mention it.
Meanwhile, the art by Mikel Janin shows an epic fight scene where Batman single handily fights his way through all of Bane’s guards. There’s a good variety of style within these pages. The opening spread feels like a wide open lens shot, showing Batman sweeping his way through a hall with a grapple hook and kicking a bunch of people down in the process. There are large pictures of Batman running through a hall with a bunch of unconscious gunmen, with small close-up panels on top of Batman punching people out. At times the number of guards feels heavily exaggerated, but at least Batman shows clear signs of fatigue after dealing with one particularly large group. In any case, there’s a lot of detail in everything. The guards wear similar uniforms, but in different configurations and with different levels of face coverings. The colouring by June Chung is also great. Some panels are dark yet colourful, the outside spread is bright but a bit grungy to match the comic’s mood, and the panels showing Bane have a heavy orange tint.
This is kind of a difficult story to evaluate. Even though we’re 4 issues in, it’s still a mystery as to where this story is going. When Bane is involved though, the answers are best left for later issues. In any case, each issue carries a different feel, yet they’re all equally mysterious and carry a good balance between intense build-up and fun. Just keep in mind that there are dark themes within Batman’s narration that might be uncomfortable to some.