BATMAN #23.4 (Bane)
Author: Bobby Barrett
September 29, 2013

SYNOPSIS: Batman is gone, and the inmates of Arkham Asylum are running wild in the streets! Bane is in Gotham City with one goal…to take it over no matter who he has to break! - DCCOMICS.COM

'90s staple Batman artist Graham Nolan has returned to the character he helped create, teaming up with BATMAN AND ROBIN scribe Peter J. Tomasi for a "Villains Month" spotlight on Bane, as Tomasi prepares the nemesis for a major role in his upcoming ARKHAM WAR miniseries.

Unlike Tomasi's "Scarecrow" issue earlier this month, which served little more than a prequel to that upcoming mini, the "Bane" issue works well as a stand-alone character study, while simultaneously functioning as an ARKHAM WAR prelude.

Opening on the South American island of Santa Prisca, we learn that much of Bane's pre-New 52 history remains intact. In fact, these stories have grown into legends in the hearts and minds of the island's citizens, whom Bane has freed from a fascist government.

Much of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is present here, as Tomasi presents the Santa Priscans as willing pawns in Bane's strategy to conquer, willingly giving their lives for his every whim. The motivational speaker Bane is fully utilized, as “The Man Who Broke The Bat” promises a glorious victory to his minions--regardless of whether they live to see it--as they sail to Gotham City to lead the Blackgate prisoners to domination of a city that's found itself without heroes.

Nolan feels right at home here, his style as sharp as in his heyday. His version of the New 52 Bane works, even if some of the pieces in the costume design are awkward--they've tried to marry the classic comic book Bane with his RISES counterpart, with moderate success--but the action packs such a punch that any qualms with the character's design are easily forgotten. We see many throwbacks to classic Bane images, some of the character poses are lifted directly from his 1993 debut in THE VENGEANCE OF BANE #1.

Ultimately, BATMAN #23.4 gives Bane fans the character they love (or love to hate). With a clear understanding that the venom does not make the man, Tomasi writes him in a way that ought to make Chuck Dixon proud. - Bobby Barrett

GRADE: B+


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