In ‘Batman’ #18, Tragedy Rules Both Hero And Villain

"I am not another one of your madmen howling at the moon."

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Batman and Bane. Finally, they are face to face. In the middle of a downpour of rain, these dual forces of nature will clash. And we will learn that these two bitter enemies have much more in common than they think; personal tragedy. And that tragedy drives a rage that fuels them both. It is this rage that will bring Batman and Bane into an epic showdown that might just leave only one of them alive. 

Batman #18Batman #18
“I Am Bane part 3”
Publisher: DC Comics
Written by 
Tom King
Penciled by: 
David Finch
Inked by:
Danny Miki
Colored by:
Jordie Bellaire

Damn. I think Tom King might have just written one of the most intense and adequate uses of parallel storytelling I have ever read. Just when I thought I’d seen just about every angle of Batman’s origin possible, King uses the inventive structure to tell not only Batman’s but Bane’s as well. It even goes farther than that; he’s turned Bane into the true antithesis of Batman. These are two men ruined by familial death.  He’s even found a way to give the villain, as relentless and terrifying as he is, a sense of deep tragedy. He’s elevated Bane. And, as classic as he has become in years, this is on a whole new level. I don’t think I have ever seen a better Bane.

He’s found a way to give the villain, as relentless and terrifying as he is, a sense of deep tragedy. He’s elevated Bane. And, as classic as he has become in years, this is on a whole new level. I don’t think I have ever seen a better Bane.

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Batman #18With this story arc, King has pushed Batman to his limit and also shown us how Bane is as much a psychological threat as he is a physical one. Bane, like this story, assaults on all fronts and has maximum impact.

Where David Finch got to showcase subtlety last issue, here he brings about intense emotional scenes, and dynamic, powerful action beats. The teary-eyed close-ups will make you pause; the fistfights will make you sit back.

He also draws the best rainstorm I have seen in ages.

But even with all the big moments in this issue, the details are not overlooked. There’s emotion in the faces as always, made all the more moving by the side by side panel juxtaposing of Bane and Bruce as children. This, the longest sequence in the book, focuses on the pivotal and defining moments for both the hero and villain. It’s beautifully written, illustrated and designed.

Danny Miki and Jordie Bellaire swing for the fences here with all their combined might, and it’s a home run of color and atmosphere. Not only are the palette nuances different within Batman and Bane’s flashbacks, the rain sequences would not have the impact they do without the ink and colors. It’s like the pages are wet. You can hear the water falling. It’s combined art assaulting your senses.

It’s not too early at all to rule this new run of Batman as a classic. If you loved everything Scott Snyder did with Greg Capullo in recent years, then do yourself a favor and read this title. That great work is being continued.  King and his revolving door of fantastic and varied artistic collaborators are making classic comics here. Do not sleep on this.