Good Gawd Almighty, Bane really handed Batman his ass last issue, didn’t he? /Jim Ross voice
Now Venom-infused Bane has kicked down the doors of Arkham Asylum looking to take back his human anti-drug Psycho Pirate. But first he’s got to get through an array of Arkham’s inhabitants…
Batman #19 (DC Comics)
“All hope abandon, ye who enter here,” are the last words Bane hears before he marches his way inside Arkham, a warning from Maxie Zeus, a man who, as his name suggests, believes he is the Greek thunder god himself; the quote from Dante’s Inferno infers that Bane, by entering the infamous psychiatric hospital’s halls has passed metaphorically through the gates of Hell itself…
But Hell, writer Tom King makes apparent in the fourth installment of “I Am Bane,” is a place Bane has dwelled his entire life. (You might say “[He] was born in it. Raised in it.”) And as he puts the luchador-masked behemoth through a near twenty-four-hour, inverse-Knightfall gauntlet involving some of the most infamous villains in Batman’s rogues gallery, we learn that Bane might be from a hell even more horrible than anyone yet could have conceived.
To reveal anymore would spoil the gripping thrill-ride, but let’s just say Bane wasn’t all talk last issue when he bellowed “I am not another one of your madmen howling at the moon!”
Writer Tom King once again deftly crafts parallels between Batman and Bane, this time not through flashbacks but through eerily similar outcomes to situations, such as when Bane encounters Mr. Freeze (a callback to Batman: Rebirth) and through the recurring motif of a character defying seemingly impossible odds due to who he is. Another strong point of King’s writing is his clear enjoyment in exploring the different personalities from Batman’s vast rogues gallery as the characterization and dialogue he provides for them in Batman #19 are fascinating and plenty lively.
David Finch’s pencils along with Jordie Bellaire’s coloring combine for visuals that are badass and impossible to ignore, plain and simple. I said in my last review that,
Finch’s exaggerated style makes Bane, who is back in full Venom-fueled, Luchador-mask wearing grandeur, look swoller than the lovechild of “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner and the Juggernaut on his best day — strong-enough-looking to topple buildings… perfectly suiting King’s aggrandizement of the character”
and that applies every bit as much, if not moreso here. And yes, Bane punches through characters’ face-bones, crashes through steel doors and instills the very fear of God the way he looks in some panels — which you should be somewhat acquainted with and welcoming of if you’ve been paying attention to Finch’s art in the last three parts of “I Am Bane”; even more impressive in this issue however are Finch’s use of facial expressions to convey emotion and his choice of panel structure/progression to conjure suspense — both marked improvements over previous installments.
Is It Good?
Batman #19 comes roaring through the gates of Arkham a violence-fueled locomotive that steams along and never once abates. Stocked with interesting villain vs. villain character exchanges, further parallels between Bane and Batman and an ending whose air of unpredictability should leave even the most ardent Bat-fans wondering what will happen next, the issue is one of King’s greatest successes in the series yet and perfectly complemented by Finch’s delightfully hyperbolic art.