After a good start things have unraveled for the “City of Bane” story that Tom King built his entire run to lead to. The story morphing from Batman’s ongoing battle with Bane to being more about Flashpoint Thomas Wayne has not done this story any favors. Batman #81 was by far the most disappointing issue of “City of Bane” thus far. King went way too far to explain why everything has happened. The non-stop exposition created a sense of boredom the closer we get to the end. That is not what you want to ever see, especially for a story like “City of Bane” that the last four years have built towards. Can Batman #82 turn things around for “City of Bane”? Let’s find out with the latest issue from Tom King and company.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere deep inside Arkham Asylum Batman and Catwoman confront Bane. Bane tells Batman “No Masks.” Bruce Wayne agrees to this and they both take their masks off.
Over at the Wayne Mansion, Ventriloquist nervously asks a tense Flashpoint Thomas Wayne if he needs anything else. Flashpoint Thomas Wayne angrily punches Ventriloquist. He then says “I require my boy.”
Back at Arkham Asylum, Bruce tells Bane neither will have help. Bane wonders if Catwoman will get involved. Bruce takes off his utility belt, cape and armored Batman shirt while saying “Not her fight. No help.” Bane rips out the tubes pumping Venom into his body and shirt.
Back at the Wayne Mansion, Flashpoint Batman walks through the mansion. He walks past all of the Batman Family members he knocked out as he heads into the Batcave.
Back at Arkham Asylum, just as Bruce and Bane charge at each other Catwoman grabs one of Bane’s arms with her whip. Bruce uses Bane’s surprise as an opening to knock him to the ground.
Bane comments that Bruce said they would fight without help. Bruce says he lied and takes out a pair of batarangs he was hiding.
Bruce and Catwoman then proceed to double team Bane. As they do so Bruce and Catwoman talk to each other about how Bruce’s plan is to inject Bane with the Super-Venom that Gotham Girl has been using to overload Bane’s system. They go on to talk about how the plan was to trick Bane into removing the tubes that control the amount of Venom that go into his body.
Bruce then stabs Bane with his batarangs that are laced with Super-Venom.
We then quickly see Flashpoint Batman and Ventriloquist walk towards the batmobile.
Back inside Arkham Asylum, Bruce tells Bane he can save him from dying due to the Super-Venom as long as they are done. Bane starts talking about how he has been alone for seventeen years and all he has done pushed through everything even though all he has wanted was to stop.
Bane then taps into the Super-Venom to start overpowering Bruce and Catwoman. He grabs Bruce and throws him against a wall violently.
Elsewhere Flashpoint Batman and Ventriloquist are driving towards Arkham Asylum in the batmobile.
Back inside Arkham Asylum, Bruce and Catwoman struggle against a Super-Venom enhanced Bane. Bane taunts Catwoman. Catwoman calls Bane ignorant fool for not realizing Gotham City is not his or Batman’s, it’s hers. Catwoman then uses her claws to land several bloody blows on Bane before he throws her off him.
Bruce recovers and tackles Bane from behind. Bruce then proceeds to smash Bane’s face into the floor. He goes on to state that he could kill Bane if he wanted to but says death would only serve to end Bane’s agony.
Bruce lifts Bane over his head and says “Instead, I will simply break your damn back.”
Before he can smash Bane over his knee, Bruce is shot twice in the stomach by Flashpoint Batman. Flashpoint Batman then shoots Bane.
As Bruce, Catwoman and Bane lay motionless on the ground Flashpoint Batman tells Ventriloquist to go get Psycho Pirate so they can end things. End of issue.
The Good: Batman #82 is a big improvement over the previous chapter for “City of Bane.” Tom King finally returned the story back to what has made his run so fascinating, which has been the rivalry between Batman and Bane. The hate between these two characters was palpable and carried this chapter of “City of Bane” forward. If it wasn’t for the interference of Flashpoint Batman, who is the biggest negative for story, this issue could’ve been a big win for the entire story.
What Batman #82 proved above all else is that when he has Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle and Bane in the same room together King’s writing is at its absolute best. King has such a great understanding of these three characters and what makes the rivalry Bruce and Selina have with Bane tick. There is absolutely no love lost between the three.
That hatred put over by not only the dialogue but also the way Bruce and Selina fight against Bane, and vice versa. The fighting styles of all three combatants came across as unique to this fight. There were absolutely no holds barred once Bruce revealed he lied to Bane about Catwoman helping him. Once that shoe dropped the intensity of the fight quickly picked up.
The way King and Mikel Janin handled the fight was much better executed this time around. The dialogue and artwork worked in sync to tell the entire narrative of this fight. Neither one got in the way of the other. When Bruce and Selina talk about their plan to inject Bane with the Super-Venom it is complemented by how Janin drew the entire sequence. It all helped believe in how Bruce and Selina built their plan to take down Bane was to use the villain’s own overconfidence against him.
Bane being being blinded by his overconfidence is a good payoff to how the character has been built up to point. Bane’s plan has gone perfectly in his eyes. Everything he did to break Bruce mentally, physically and spiritually worked from everything he saw. Taking off his Venom pumps, showing his willingness to fight on an even playing field, further spoke to how confident he has become at this point in the “City of Bane” story. If this was a part of the character that was highlighted more over the course of “City of Bane” it could’ve gone from good to perfect.
As mentioned earlier, Janin’s artwork was on point throughout Batman #82. Janin is so tuned into the type of story that King has been telling throughout his run on Batman. The experience he has with this story that King has built showed throughout Batman #82. From the way he choreographed the fight between Batman, Catwoman and Bane to the intensity in Flashpoint Batman’s face, Janin elevated the entire story told in this chapter of “City of Bane.”
The Bad: For as well as Bane’s development came across in Batman #82 King could not make up how much of a non-presence the villain has been through most of “City of Bane.” Going down the route of Batman and Catwoman being able to defeat Bane within one issue only hurt the portrayal of the character in this story. This was the chance to remind readers how much of a badass he has been built to be throughout King’s run on Batman. But that just did not happen.
Instead the defeat that Bane ends up suffering at the hands of Batman and Catwoman in this issue made him look like a mini-boss as Flashpoint Batman has taken over as the main antagonist. It’s such a shame because, even in defeat, King could’ve shown that Bane was prepared for the possibility of losing.
His plan up to this point has shown that he has been ready for whatever Batman’s plan to defeat him. That characterization is not present at all in Batman #82. Lacking that preparation ended up making Bane come across as nothing more than a guy thinking with his muscles and nothing more.
The continued disappointment in Bane’s portrayal in “City of Bane” further hurts how credible of an antagonist Flashpoint Batman has been. Everything about Flashpoint Batman in this issue is a reminder of how much King has done to feed every character to make him a big threat. The walk through the Wayne Mansion in particular showed how the entire Batman Family were treated nothing more than enhancement talent to put Flashpoint Batman over as a badass. The problem with this story choice is that King rushed Flashpoint Batman’s development to make this a believable outcome.
Having Flashpoint Batman stand tall over a fallen Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle and Bane only further highlights how his takeover of the “City of Bane” story comes across as last minute. The character’s entire presence in this story feels like a last minute pivot King made. In the process he has thrown Bane to the side, which we see with how Flashpoint Batman shoots the villain without much of a care.
It is also odd that Gotham Girl has been completely forgotten. After being such an important character throughout his run, including early chapters of “City of Bane,” King is not really treating her as an important character. Every mention of the Super-Venom is just a reminder how there is no urgency in helping Gotham Girl out. Which is odd since the last time we saw Gotham Girl she was in a near-death state after overusing her powers. But neither Bruce or Flashpoint Thomas Wayne show that they are in a hurry to cure her.
Which just points to how the Super-Venom is nothing more than deus ex machina that King had Bruce talk about in Batman #81 so it could be used in Batman #82. It is just way to convenient of a plot device that the Super-Venom becomes the key in bringing down Bane after its introduction in the previous issue. If King would’ve brought up the Super-Venom as something Bruce and others were aware of in early issues of his Batman run this could’ve been avoided.
Overall: In comparison to the previous issue, Batman #82 was a step up for the “City of Bane” story. Tom King and Mikel Janin finally gave us the showdown between Batman, Catwoman and Bane that fans have been itching for. Unfortunately all the problems that have persisted throughout “City of Bane” put way to many speed bumps in front of Batman #82 to be able to avoid. Hopefully the remaining chapters of “City of Bane” can turn the negatives into positives to wrap things up in a satisfying way.
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