By Daniel Vlasaty
After two issues of pretty much straight set-up, we’re back to the action in Batman #18. From the opening page spread of Batman and Bane arguing and fighting in the rain all the way back to their respective childhoods this issue really packs in an emotional/action-packed punch.
This issue takes us back and forth between past and present. It shows us Batman and Bane fighting in the present and this issue-long fight scene is cut with a side-by-side comparison of a young Bruce Wayne and a baby-faced Bane as kids, dealing with the deaths of their mothers (and in Bruce’s case, obviously, his father’s death, too), and how they use these defining moments in their lives to become the men they are now, fighting in the present.
It’s a jarring issue, both from an action-packed point-of-view, to see Batman and Bane kicking the shit out of each other (although Batman’s taking most of the shit-kicking), and from an emotional point-of-view as well. To see these young boys grow up side-by-side like this and understand that, while their upbringings were completely different, they weren’t that far off from each other. It’s nature versus nurture. It’s two boys facing two very similar situations and twisting these moments to fit into their own narratives.
I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. I thought it was great. And the writing was top-notch. It’s good to see that Tom King can write the shit out of both action scenes as well and more somber, emotional scenes. As I said in my review for Batman #17, I don’t know much about Bane as a character, and King gives newbies such as myself a crash-course in his origins. Seeing it right there next to Bruce Wayne’s life was an interesting spectacle. It was a powerful choice and really hit home how no two things are ever really the same. As far as the present day extended fight scene goes, it was good too, but there wasn’t much to it. Just Bane kicking Batman’s ass while screaming about how he’s BANE!
After a handful of pages of Batman just getting destroyed it started to get a little old, especially since it seemed like Batman was just taking it and not fighting back. There’s a reason for it, we learn at the end of the issue, and not to spoil anything but it’s a throw-back to the end of the first issue of the “I am Bane” storyline.
I understand that there is nothing explicitly groundbreaking about this storyline, but I’ve been having fun with it. It’s dark and action-packed and twisty like any good Batman story should be. It’s a little funny to me that I went from kind of talking shit about Tom King’s writing in my review of Batman #15 to praising every issue he’s written since then. I need to check out more of his stuff, I know.
The art here is good, too. It’s not great, but it’s more good than bad. The fight scenes are the stand-out here, though. The fighting in the rain and lightning, it’s all very atmospheric and tense. I felt that some of the flashback scenes were rather dull and not too exciting. I think Finch maybe at his best when there’s action on the page. Normal everyday stuff kind of falls flat. And while I really liked the side-by-side comparisons of young Bruce Wayne and Bane, they were kind of boring art-wise. Identical scenes just with changes in the scenery and minor appearance changes on the characters.
I would imagine that there are still two issues left in this story line and I have no idea where they are going to take us. But I imagine that they will be action-packed and psychologically draining and a wild ride. I’m excited (as I always say) to see where King and Finch go with this.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: David Finch
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: DC Comics