The Psycho-Pirate sits in Arkham Asylum, both imprisoned and protected by Batman. But as The Dark Knight anticipates a move by Bane to kidnap the jailed villain for his own needs, Bruce manipulates his friends and families in order to face the danger alone and hopefully also save Gotham Girl. It is a move that may prove to be a fatal mistake, and not necessarily for the Batman.
“I Am Bane part 1”
Publisher: DC Comics
Written by Tom King
Penciled and Inked by: David Finch
Colored by: Jordie Bellaire
So we begin a new storyline, and it starts with a bang. A venom infused guard makes an attempt to break out the Psycho-Pirate but is stopped by Batman and Bronze Tiger. Tom King lets us know right away that this new arc is moving into a more action vibe with this scene. It’s a change from the last two part Catwoman story, but it’s still very much well within the overall arc that has been going on since “I Am Gotham”. I’m actually starting to see many connective tissues and I realize that King is building a very complex multi-part tale.
This issue also had a lot of humor, which was a welcome surprise. As much as I have loved what King was doing so far in Batman, it was all extremely dour and serious. Sequences like the one with Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Damian Wayne having lunch in a Batman themed burger joint (Batburger! I would TOTALLY go) showcase what a multi-faceted writer he is. It sounds silly, but the writing is so tight that the jokes not only make you laugh but also expands on the characters as well. I seriously think this scene was one of the best things I’ve read in a Batman comic, and the dynamic of the “Bat Family” is strongly felt. Even Alfred, who isn’t there, is mentioned in a great bit of a joke.
But it’s the ending of this first chapter that I really can’t get out of my head. Revealing it would spoil the impact, and I suspect there is more, but it’s a jarring and graphic image that really delivers. It makes Bane’s infamous breaking of Batman’s back the second worse thing the villain has done to him. And immediately sets up how personal and serious Bane is. King is going a long way toward turning a already classic villain into something truly scary and disturbing.
David Finch is no stranger to Batman, having both drawn and written the chacater. The familiarity shows in the great execution and ease he has in laying out the action and quite scenes. Finch’s art is deceptive though. At a glance it seems like much more traditional comic book art, with its square jawed heroes and and clean lines; but when you focus on the details a bit, you notice great touches like subtle facial expressons, a smooth senses of movement that almost feel like animation, and a truly great attention to details in backgrounds and foregrounds. I really am enjoying how each arc of Batman has a different but equally talented artist holding the pen. It’s a concept that allows for a perfect pairing depending on story tone.
I must mention Jordie Bellaire’s colors. The opening scene in Arkham is a perfect example of color-setting mood. And when you juxtapose that with the “lighter” scenes, it just emphasis how crucial it is to have a good colorist in your team.
Batman continues to be at an all-time high for me. There is a lot being set up in this title, and although of some of it ties into the Rebirth going on in the DCU, it still feels like a very intimate and personal Batman story being told. Dark Knight fans, you have to be reading what Tom King is writing.