Batman #18 Review

By
comic books:
Sergio Pereira

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On March 1, 2017
Last modified:February 28, 2017

Summary:

In Batman #18, Tom King delivers a five-star book that'll have the fans salivating for more. This is the Batman-Bane clash we've been waiting for.

Batman #18 Review

This review contains minor spoilers.

In American Pie 2, resident pie-defiler Jim Levenstein muses “and Vicky got hot” when he spots his friend Kevin’s ex at a party. This is exactly how I feel about Tom King’s Batman right now. Well, he’s slightly less “hot” than Vicky (sorry, Tom), but his “I Am Bane” storyline is scorching nonetheless. This series is finally delivering on all the potential that it initially promised.

The last battle between Bane and the Bat was a little weird to say the least, with the nudity, skulls, and weird prison setting straight out of Fifty Shades Darker. This time, their tussle takes place on Arkham Asylum’s doorstep – fully clothed in case you were wondering. It’s an action-packed issue, with the Dark Knight getting his ass handed to him by the hulking Santa Prisca native. But don’t worry, a juicy twist proves brawn doesn’t always trump brains. It’s a surprise which I never saw coming.

What’s most interesting here is the symmetry of “I Am Bane” with “I Am Suicide.” If you recall their last encounter, it was Batman who asked Bane to hand over Psycho-Pirate and not fight. The roles are reversed now, with the villain requesting the same thing of his foe. As expected, both are stubborn and refuse to do so; however, this is only the surface of their parallels.

The bulk of the story retells Batman and Bane’s memories, where they recall the loss of their respective mothers and how they dealt with it. While you might think this is another “Martha!” moment, it’s actually a brutal reflection of the effects of trauma. King taps into the psychological aspect of nurture, showing how the similar tragedies shaped Bruce and Bane differently due to their environments. If Bane’s circumstances had been different, he could’ve very well have become a hero, too – and vice versa for Bruce. It’s a unique angle that shows the human side of Bane, eliciting our sympathy for the devil.

Whichever reservations I’ve had of David Finch’s illustrations in this series have been wiped away by this single issue. His battle scenes will be the envy of many, as will his supreme handling of the revelatory flashbacks. In a book that traverses the emotional spectrum – moving from fear, to empathy, to anger – he captures each and every emotion with gusto and care. Finch gives us absolutely everything we’d like to see in a clash between Bane and Batman – and still manages to exceed all expectations.

Three parts in, it’s safe to say “I Am Bane” is the best arc of King’s Batman to date. The funny thing is, it’s so good because of its simplicity. We don’t always need weaving, pretentious stories that read like Quentin Tarantino films on acid. Give us a believable protagonist, formidable antagonist and real stakes that force our hero to suffer before he can overcome. If this foundation is in place, it allows the writer to play around with other themes and subplots (such as the parallels between Bane and Bruce, for example). King’s finally found the right balance, and his series shines brighter because of it.

Batman #18 Review
Top Honors

In Batman #18, Tom King delivers a five-star book that'll have the fans salivating for more. This is the Batman-Bane clash we've been waiting for.

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