After decades and decades of stories about Batman, we still don’t know him. Not very well, at least. The current run of Batman has been exploring just who the Dark Knight is, hence the titles of each story arch starting with, “I Am!” This latest story, that concluded in Batman #20, looks at the similarities and differences between the Dark Knight and Bane. As Spock might say, “Fascinating.”
Writer: Tom King
Art: David Finch
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Solicitation: “I Am Bane” finale! In this epic climax, there is no going back. No more tricks, no more allies. Just Batman. And Bane. When the final blood spills … nothing will ever be the same for the Dark Knight.
FACE TO FACE
Bane has always been one of those B-Listers to me. He’s not on the level of, say, the Joker or the Penguin or even Two-Face. He’s been a physical powerhouse and has done serious damage to the Dark Knight in the past, to be sure, but as far as really challenging Batman? In my opinion, not so much.
I have to give Mr. King credit. He’s really brought out how similar these two are, and that truly surprised me. Batman’s response to threats or dangers is often a physical one, and that’s how Bane looks at things as well. They both also see things mostly in black and white, and they are clearly underestimated by those who take them on. And that’s just scratching the surface.
We see things from Batman’s perspective, including the nightly ritual of someone telling him he’s dead, he’s finished, anything along those lines. We also learn that Batman is a pretty good actor, and when you think he’s down for the count, that’s when he’s the most dangerous.
King also refers back to the first storyline he wrote in this comic, which introduced Gotham and Gotham Girl. I still don’t buy the notion of Batman not being able to resolve a situation – any situation – because we know he plans ahead. Even a plane crashing to the ground, yeah, I think he’s got a plan for that. I know it’s a big deal to put Batman into a situation he supposedly can’t get out of, but this one just doesn’t work for me.
The pacing’s good in Batman #20 but, at times, things slow down to let Mr. Finch capture the spotlight. I mean, I get that. Finch is a superstar artist, and you want to let him strut his stuff as much as you can. I just thought a smidgeon more plot or story would have put some more meat on those artistic bones.
THE FINCH MAKES THAT ART
Speaking of which, I always enjoy Finch’s Batman. Strong, determined, grim – it’s a Dark Knight I buy into. He makes great use of the Capullo costume redesign, and it’s stunning visually.
Bane’s physical presence is formidable. I like that he’s clearly bigger than Batman, and that indicates a challenge for him. Unless it’s Killer Croc, it’s rare that any of his rogue’s gallery can match or best the Dark Knight in physical combat. Bane, on the other hand, no problem. Even the cover shows Bane looking down on Batman, menacing and scary at the same time.
I particularly liked the splash page that resolves the battle. After setting things up to look as if Batman’s done for, we see the Dark Knight can still take down a stronger foe through cunning. That could be a poster on my wall!
BOTTOM LINE: ‘I Am’ a Fan of This Creative Team
The current semi-monthly schedule means we see a rotating list of artists who come in to illustrate a five-issue story arch, but I think this title is best when King and Finch are on the field, to use a sports term. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the other creators who bring King’s scripts to life. But I have to say that Mr. Finch just makes this book sparkle!
The fact that there are a lot of “I Am” arcs happening shows that King is finding quite a bit of depth to Batman. I’m not sure he’ll ever run out of ideas as he takes us on a journey “where no Batman has gone before,” if I can use a Star Trek reference.