“I Am Suicide” is not turning out to be the Batman and Suicide Squad crossover story that I originally thought it would be. While this story has elements of Suicide Squad in terms of it featuring a team made up of villains, at its core “I Am Suicide” is Batman story plain and simple. Tom King has delivered on a story packed with psychology and action. The previous installment provided us with the biggest twist of the story as Catwoman turned on Batman and the team. Now with this new development how will Batman deal with a Bane and Catwoman partnership? Let’s find out of with Batman #12.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Inkers: Mikel Janin and Hugo Petrus
Colorist: June Chung
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere in Bane’s castle Batman is forced to listen to Bane taunting him about having Psycho Pirate in his throne room.
Batman begins fighting his way through Bane’s castle with an army of mercenaries getting in his way.
As he keeps fighting from room to room Batman thinks about a letter he wrote to Catwoman before the events against Bane took place.
In Batman’s letter he speaks about how his parents would’ve laughed at seeing their son fighting crime in a bat costume. He says that they would’ve laughed because while they accepted the burden of the world with dignity and kindness they weren’t above laughing when they saw something ridiculous.
He goes on to say that he even finds a guy dressed up a bat fighting crime as something that is ridiculous and laugh inducing.
Batman continues admitting that instead of mourning his parents death like any kid would he took a vow to avenge their deaths and wears a bat costume and uses bat-themed equipment. He admits that it is a sad, stupid, immature and hilarious thing to do.
After making it outside the castle Batman dives into the shark infested water to find another route into Bane’s throne room. This path leads to yet another room filled with Bane’s mercenaries.
As he fights them he continues his letter which he says that even though he wants to laugh at his Batman persona he doesn’t. He doesn’t laugh because he thinks of Selina. Because while his mom, dad or anyone else would laugh at him for being Batman he knows Selina would never do that.
He goes on to say that when his parents died he prayed for someone, anyone, to help him make things better. Unfortunately no one answered his prays which is when he finally understood the choice he had to made to follow through with the vow to avenge his parents death by going to war with all criminals.
It was when he accepted that choice that Bruce never saw Batman’s costume, equipment, or anything else he did as funny. He elaborates that he made the choice to become Batman and says “I am suicide.”
Batman goes on to say that Catwoman is like him and that when they kiss they not only forget their pains but also share their deaths. He goes on to say that in the moments they kiss he believes they won’t die alone.
He then writes about the 237 people she killed and how she told him she did it out of vengeance for the orphanage but that was a lie. He says it’s a lie because she knows that death is a choice and he also had to lock her up because she couldn’t find the truth of her actions.
Batman ends the letter by saying he will find the truth for Catwoman and when they are free they’ll put on their masks and finally laugh together.
As the letter ends Batman finally makes it to the throne room exhausted and to the point of collapsing. He is greeted by Bane with Catwoman and Psycho Pirate on his side. End of issue.
The Good: There have been plenty of Batman comics that have explored his inner psyche and how much of a badass fighter he is. But to my recollection I haven’t read a Batman comic where both these elements were explored at the same time. At least not in the compelling way Tom King and Mikel Janin did it with Batman #12.
Tom King’s greatest achievement with Batman #12 is how he is able to make Batman’s issue long battle inside Santa Prisca distract from the inner monologue, and vice versa. In many ways these two things we usually find separated in comic books end up being what drives the other during the course of Batman #12. It’s that complimentary storytelling that King nails and is enhanced nine double spread pages that Mikel Janin draws for this issue.
Framing the entire issue around a letter that Bruce Wayne sent to Selina Kyle soon after her arrest was a wonderful choice. In going with this direction King was able to write a Bruce that isn’t affected by Selina’s actions as Catwoman during this story. What we get instead is a better look into all of Bruce true thoughts of Selina and why they are always seeking each other out even if they don’t think they are. It’s a nice spin on the whole star-crossed lover’s story we’ve seen so many times before.
The letter to Selina also worked as a way for King to put a stamp on how he views Bruce’s parents’ death as shaping him to become Batman. With the entire world already knowing and seeing Batman’s origin retold hundreds of times before it was important that King did not go the route of showing us these events again. Instead King goes with the route we don’t normally see and that is what a mature and experienced Batman thinks about his situation.
Through the letter we are able to see a Bruce that has come to terms with who he is and that while his parents’ death will always haunt him it is not his driving force. King shifts the focus of what drives Bruce as Batman to being more of a symbol for Gotham City’s children to know there is someone out there that will rescue them. While he has faced failure, Batman being a symbol of protection is what actually gets Bruce up every day to do what he does. It’s a take on Batman that adds to everything other writers before King have established.
This framing device also took our minds from wondering what Batman was thinking about following Catwoman’s betrayal. It’s easy to see with two issues left in the “I Am Suicide” storyline that this would be the case. But with by going over showing us a letter Batman wrote to Catwoman in the past over inner monologue King is able to give us an idea that Batman is fighting through the pain of disappointment. While it may turn out that this was all part of Batman’s plan to take down Bane we are at least led to believe that Catwoman’s decision was heartbreaking for Bruce.
The letter we got to read during the course of Batman #12 was a great compliment to the issue long action sequence. While the letter highlighted King’s writing, the action was a big showcase for Mikel Janin’s artwork. Janin’s art truly shined with the 9 back-to-back double-spread pages that he was able to draw. With these sequences Janin was able to give us something different with how he framed the action. Whether it was the up close sequence where Batman fought a horde of mercenaries or Batman fighting outside which was made to look like a drone was used to shoot the scene, it was all stunning. These differences helped make the double-page spread action sequence keep you engaged rather than get exhausted by them.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: Batman #12 was another compelling chapter in the “I Am Suicide” storyline. Framing the entire issue around a letter Batman wrote to Catwoman before the events of this story gives us a better idea what they represent in each others lives. This made Catwoman’s choice come over as a bigger twist to the story. It also made the issue-long fight sequence featuring Batman fighting his way through Bane’s castle even more exciting. This all culminated with a strong ending as Batman now comes face-to-face with Bane and Catwoman.