“I Am Suicide” has been one of the strongest arcs Tom King has written in his young Batman writing career. The story has brought back several key Batman villains back into the fold. Most importantly it has given Bane a spotlight to show how threatening he can be when playing the main villain of a story. Catwoman’s betrayal earlier in this story arc has made things even more complicated for Batman and his Suicide Squad. With the last issue pushing Batman to his physical limits this story can either close the year out in a good or bad way for the Dark Knight. Let’s find out how the Dark Knight ends his 2016 with Batman #13.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: June Chung
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: As Ventriloquist waits for his team’s return Punch and Jewlee are placed on a conveyer belt leading to a furnace and Bronze Tiger is locked up with other prisoners of Bane. At the same time, Batman is on his knees as Bane, Catwoman and Psycho-Pirate watch him from Bane’s throne.
At the Batcave Alfred is cleaning Batman’s trophies when Amanda Waller walks in. Amanda says she is there for files that will help her with an upcoming project and she will leave when she has them. Alfred says that Batman wouldn’t like what Amanda is doing.
Amanda reveals that Batman is on mission in Santa Prisca that she planned. She then admits that if Batman was in the Batcave right now her retrieval of the files she needs would’ve been difficult. (The full story of Amanda’s plot takes place in Justice League vs The Suicide Squad #1.)
Back in Santa Prisca, Bane tells Batman he will help find the monster he is looking for. He then clotheslines Batman and suplex’s him on to the ground as Catwoman and Psycho Pirate watch on.
As that fight is going on Ventriloquist continues to wait for his teammates to return.
At Bane’s prison, Bronze Tiger is able to convince one of the inmates to cell him some Venom.
At the same time, Punch and Jewlee’s bodies inch closer to the furnace.
With Batman unable to get up Bane admits that his cure was not Venom, as that only made things worse for him, but Psycho-Pirate. He lifts Batman up and says Psycho-Pirate can cure him as well, all he has to do is admit what he wants.
Batman tells Bane that he wants to break Bane’s back. This causes Bane to go into a fit of rage and he starts pounding on Batman. As he does this Catwoman continues to repeat “Bat?” over and over again.
Over at Bane’s prison cell, Bronze Tiger breaks out after pumping himself with a dosage of Venom. He then uses his new found strength to climb out of the prison and swim to Ventriloquist location. Bronze Tiger then has Ventriloquist follow him to Batman and Catwoman’s location
As they do that, Punch and Jewlee wake up and blow up chewing gum that explodes and covers their entire body. As they get closer to the furnace they talk about what they are going to do when they get out. They eventually go through the furnace and end up falling into the ocean, as the gum they are covered in protects them.
Bronze Tiger and Ventriloquist end up outside Bane’s throne room and wait for their moment to strike.
Inside Bane’s throne room, Batman tells Catwoman she can strike. Catwoman proceeds to attack Bane with her whip from behind. The one attack causes Bane to collapse as he can’t move his body.
Bronze Tiger and Ventriloquist enter the room just as this occurs. Batman orders Bronze Tiger to lockdown the room and Ventriloquist to get Psycho-Pirate.
Psycho-Pirate laughs at Ventriloquist for how weak he is. Psycho-Pirate even states that Gods are afraid of him and that Ventriloquist is scared.
Scarface’s voice suddenly comes out of Ventriloquist’s right hand. Psycho-Pirate does not know how to respond to Scarface, who is verbally abusing him. Ventriloquist proceeds to use the Scarface hand to knock Psycho-Pirate out.
Bronze Tiger quickly knocks Ventriloquist out before things get worse.
Bronze Tiger can’t believe they were able to take Psycho-Pirate away from Bane.
Catwoman sets off an explosive that destroys a wall to secure their escape. She then tells Bronze Tiger that nothing is impossible when it comes to Batman. They then meet Punch and Jewlee, who have created a raft with their special gum.
Batman confronts a paralyzed Bane and says that Bane will be tempted to chase his monsters. Batman tells Bane to ignore that temptation. Instead Batman wants Bane to remember to be brave and happy with his comfortable home.
Not long after Batman and his team are floating away in the gum raft Punch and Jewlee created. Batman explains how after this successful mission Ventriloquist will be moved to a more progressive facility, Bronze Tiger is being released on parole and Punch and Jewlee will be staying in Arkham Asylum but with the ability to visit one another once a month.
Catwoman wonders what she gets from Batman’s promises. Batman kisses Catwoman. After they break from the kiss Catwoman understands that they can’t be together after what she has done and who Batman is.
Back in Santa Prisca, Bane’s solidiers find him paralyzed on the ground. Bane orders his soldiers to give him Venom. End of issue.
The Good: Batman #13 is an example of a comic book that is well written from a character standpoint but fails to stick the ending cleanly. As with other issues in the “I Am Suicide” arc, Tom King was able to create an air of suspense with Batman’s latest clash with Bane. At the same time, the choice in how Batman defeated his powerful foe left a lot to be desired.
There is no doubt that Tom King has a strong understanding of Batman’s world. If there is one thing that “I Am Suicide” accomplished it is that King has a deep pool of Batman villains to use for future stories that aren’t named Joker or Two-Face. Each character used as part of Batman’s Suicide Squad was written as a dangerous threat. That is where Batman #13 excels, as each character’’s psyche is used to push the story forward.
By far the character that came out “I Am Suicide” with the best development is the Ventriloquist. King does a fantastic job taking things a step forward with the the Scarface persona not reliant on a dummy anymore. Seeing how Ventriloquist’s was able to strike fear in someone like Psycho-Pirate with just his hand speaking in Scarface’s voice goes to show how far gone he is. This makes him an even deadlier foe for Batman or anyone to face if/when he escapes the new facility he is being transferred to.
While they did not play as big a role, Bronze Tiger, Punchee and Jewlee also got some good screen time during course of this arc. These are three villains that are on a lower level when it comes to ranking Batman villains. But with the character work King provided them he has opened up opportunities for them to be credible foes for a quick arc in the future.
The development of these Batman villains all helped to compliment the core of what “I Am Suicide” is about. Throughout this story we have seen how this battle between Batman and Bane has been as much a mental battle as it has been a physical one. Everything that these two put themselves through was to break the other. And no doubt this battle of wills was won by Batman.
Though the way Batman won was not the ideal way to end the story it did leave Bane in a position that create an opportunity for an even more fascinating story to be told. Because while Bane is most well-known for the version of him that heavily uses the Venom drug to combat Batman it is something he hasn’t taken in a long time in the comic books. Through all of his modern day appearances his physical presence has been natural, at least as natural as a comic book villain can be.
But now with this latest defeat at Batman’s hands King has created a scenario for Bane to go back to his old ways moving forward. Seeing as how he has been such a dangerous villain for so long without Venom he should pose an even bigger threat with it. This will also give the reason he not only goes after Batman but everyone related to him further purpose as he knows Batman will use anyone on his side against Bane.
The one part of Batman #13 that was surprisingly enjoyable was the connection between “I Am Suicide” and the “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” event. King did a great job integrating the continuity between the two stories, giving Batman a reason to take part in whatever Amanda Waller has planned. This is a strong example of how two comics can support one another without making one story weaker. It also reminds readers that while it may not always seem to be the case all of DC’s comics exist within one ever changing continuity.
While this wasn’t the showcase for his artistic abilities, like Batman #12 was, Mikel Janin turned in another great looking comic book. With how many wheels Batman had in motion with each role his Suicide Squad need to execute Janin is able to get across how everything is happening at the same time. There was a clear sense that if Catwoman, Bronze Tiger, Ventriloquist, Punch or Jewlee failed to do their part that Batman’s plan to take down Bane would fall apart. Janin also does a great job getting across Bane’s anger following his defeat and his desire for the Venom drug.
The Bad: The one thing that brings “I Am Suicide” down a bit from being a home run is the predictability of Catwoman’s betrayal being planned by Batman. The previous issue with Batman’s letter to Catwoman did a good job not having us focus on how telegraphed this end would be. Unfortunately even though an attempt is made to mask the fake out Catwoman’s trick on Bane was clear from beginning.
It is especially bad considering how Batman never attempted to act like Catwoman turning out to be a traitor within his Suicide Squad was real. With how close of a relationship these two are known for having King should’ve at least shown that Batman was hurt by Catwoman’s action, even if it was part of his plan. Even Catwoman asking Batman when she can attack was pounding us over the head with how predictable the plan was.
Catwoman should’ve been shown to play on with her betrayal showing how satisfied with how Bane was easily throwing Batman around. It would’ve been even better if Catwoman took part in Bane’s beating on Batman to put an air of doubt about this all being part of Batman’s plan. This would’ve made Catwoman’s paralyzing attack on Bane much more effective. Even if it was a predictable move, by making Catwoman act along until the very last second would’ve made Batman’s plan come off as a brilliant move.
Overall: Batman #13 is a good but flawed ending for Tom King and Mikel Janin’s “I Am Suicide” arc. How Batman defeated Bane at the end couldn’t off been more telegraphed. Luckily King’s strong characterization of everyone involved in Batman’s plan helped overcome this problem to not be as noticeable. The ending also opens the door for an even greater story involving Bane to be told in the future. Seeing as Bane comes to visit Batman Gotham City in February we won’t have to wait that long for his revenge, which I cannot wait to see how it turns out.