The first story arc in Tom King’s Batman run was great. It introduced a pair of new superheroes to Gotham City, both of which had Superman-like powers. However when they use their powers, they shorten their lives. It ended up turning even more tragic when the villains of Gotham City twisted one of them around, turning him into a bit of a villain. The other, Gotham Girl, suffered severe psychological trauma. The second arc wasn’t as good. Batman gathered a team of insane people to get help for Gotham Girl, by taking the Psycho Pirate away from Bane for a couple days. The build-up in that story arc worked very well, but the end didn’t even begin to live up to the build-up. This story arc directly follows that, with Bane attacking Gotham City, trying to get the Psycho Pirate back.
Today’s issue has an interesting idea behind it. Pretty much the entire comic is split between the Batman/Bane fight and side by side flashbacks of their similar yet different origin stories. The flashbacks kind of work in that there are notable similarities behind their backstories. The repetitive “mommy” dialogue between them gets old after a while though. The “modern” fight scene on the other hand is very much one-sided in favour of Bane. I know Bane is tough, but Batman should at least be able to hold him off for a while. It’s not like Batman was tired from tracking down and re-arresting pretty much his entire rogue gallery for weeks on end like when Bane broke his back in the comics. Here, it’s meant to just be a straight fight, yet it doesn’t even look like Batman is trying. He’s really just taking punches. The whole fight, and the cliffhanger, just feel kind of underwhelming.
The art by David Finch is good though. The action scene takes place during the rain, with drops splashing off both Bane and Batman, dripping down their sides. It adds to the dark atmosphere, and water splashing off in ways to emphasize their motions works quite well. The flashbacks use a few too many exact same facial expressions after the two characters’ parents die, but it does a good job at visually telling how the two of them grew up; Bruce by remaining in the mansion for years while Bane is locked in his cell. Jordie Bellaire’s colouring captures the comic’s mood well too. It’s an overall dark comic, with greyed out green shading in Bane’s childhood cell, while Bruce in the mansion and later traveling the world is a bit more colourful. I should also note that this is the second comic I’ve reviewed this week with Bellaire’s colouring. He did a good job in both.
There are things to enjoy in this issue, but my overall reaction is underwhelming. This comic just exists, and I feel like I’ll forget about it in a couple of days. The previous two issues were exciting with their build-up, but like the I Am Suicide arc, the payoff isn’t’ living up to the potential. I’ll at least read I Am Bane until the end of the story arc, but if I’m not impressed, I’ll probably drop this series and just stick with Detective Comics.