Batman, Vol. 3: I Am Bane By Tom King

    Honestly, I think this is my favorite rebirth storyline. Also I love Alfreds sassiness Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

    I really wanted to love this volume. I thought this would be the moment where Tom King finally has a decent grasp on how to write a Batman story arc through a bi-weekly 25-page-long comic issue business structure. With the way things have been getting better (yet always flawed), I thought volume 3, I Am Bane, would be a game-changer. In fact, the way Bane was introduced in volume 2, I Am Suicide, I could only imagine that the Bane-centric story to come would blow things out of the water, or in this case, out of Gotham.

    I guess I was wrong.

    I Am Bane (which includes issues #16 to 20 as well as #23 and #24) starts off extremely promising. The Bat Family meets up in the most unexpected place and have the most genuine and intimate moment around the table. Bruce warns them all to stay safe and away from an inevitable fight with Bane, a showdown that should be only his problem, and no one else’s. From that moment on, shit hits the fan and everything seems to go downhill for Batman. An unexpected and highly tragic moment hits us like a hurricane. This brings Bruce to call up one his most trusted friend for a favor that will give him the necessary mindset and space to settle things once and for all with Bane.

    This is when a five day mission to keep Psycho Pirate away from Bane—enough time for Bruce and Alfred to fix Gotham Girl up from her mental breakdown—is revealed. As you might recall in volume 2, I Am Suicide, Batman steals Psycho Pirate away from Bane, disrupting the peace that existed between these two individuals. While Psycho Pirate’s special mask is a cure to Gotham Girl’s predicament, he is also the cure to Bane’s sanity. As much as you want to love Batman for doing all this in order to save Gotham Girl, too much felt at stake. For someone who broke into Bane’s sanctuary with an insane plan in the previous volume, this story arc showed us an even more chaotic and risky strategy.

    The story then shifts into showing Bane’s plan to use a couple of Batman’s “allies” for blackmailing purposes. There was a couple twists here and then that really caught my eye and had me excited and pumped, but then there were plot holes and incomprehensible moments that just didn’t work for me.

    Tom King tried really hard to make Batman and Bane similar on a psychological level. In fact, he tried to exhibit a side of Batman that has never really been done before, one where Batman suffers from discrete psychosis and isn’t as sane as we wish he was. In fact, it felt like Tom King wanted us to wonder if an individual like Bruce Wayne could actually be sane enough to be doing all the things he’s done in his life. It felt like this Batman-Bane comparison had the ultimate purpose of reminding us that a guy who dresses up like a bat and who’s done really insane things—and survived them—isn’t a person who hasn’t suffered immensely or who could live a day mentally stable. Maybe this arc had that very purpose, but I couldn’t bring myself to embrace such a depiction of Batman. It just seemed too out the blue to get me to truly appreciate and acknowledge such a vision.

    The final two issues are probably the ones that really left me in awe and left me greatly unsatisfied by the story we got. As volume 2, I Am Suicide, might have already indicated, Tom King draws inspiration from the original Knightfall by Doug Moench story arc to deliver his Bane story. This time around, things are flipped upside down. As interesting as the idea was, it really felt uninspiring and unoriginal to me. While the panel-to-panel punching and kicking scenes were powerful and chilling (due essentially to the fantastic artwork by David Finch and Mikel Janin), it didn’t make any sense to me that you could pummel through all these characters while delivering a continuous speech on how unstoppable you are.

    Through an “unknown” narrator, the last issue served as a huge wrap-up of what has been going on so far in the story arc. It’s the revelation of this narrator that made me realize the whole new Batman persona that Tom King was trying to bring life to (with all the deranged theme going on). As I mentioned earlier, the revelation that just didn’t stick with me. I also really hated how the whole Batman vs. Bane battle went down. Tom King’s repetitive writing style also wasn’t my cup of tea. After testing it out a couple times in the previous volumes, hasn’t anyone tried to tell him that it wasn’t appealing? Man… It just doesn’t seem to work for me.

    Volume 3 also awkwardly includes issues #23 and #24 at the end. Issue #23 offers a little off-story team-up with Batman and one of the most beloved swamp creature in the DC universe. The issue was absolutely unrelated to anything that happened so far to Batman (I am Bane or The Button storyarcs). It had some really interesting ideas conveyed, but, for the most part, was really stagnant. The story is also divided in super short chapters that had the vintage black and white silent movie chapter panels that always featured a title that was also a piece of the dialogue that would appear in the next panel immediately. In fact, speaking of repetition, you can expect to see some more of that throughout the issues as a song is kept on repeat throughout the story. Issue #24 was much more related to I am Bane, but came out super boring in the end. The conversation between Batman and Gotham Girl seemed to be on a loop that never really caught my attention. It also ended with a huge plot twist, something that you've never seen happen in the past (canon story). I wasn't too amazed by this move by Tom King though. The whole in fear, we say and do crazy things was stretched to the max in this one.

    I’m not sure if a re-read would help or worsen the case, but I can see why this storyarc is able to please a lot of other fans. There are some really brilliant moments sprinkled throughout the story arc, but the consistency wasn’t there. This could’ve been phenomenal, but things thoroughly went downhill towards the end. Now I shall remain optimistic even if everything has been telling me that Tom King’s Batman stories don’t want to impress me. I’ll be waiting for the 4-part DC event crossover with Batman and the Flash to come out and, hopefully, this “The Button” story arc will bring back joy in me regarding this Rebirth Batman series.

    Yours truly,

    Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer
    Official blog: Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels ** received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **

    2.5 stars

    So, I had hopes for this one. Not particularly high hopes but hopes all the same. I enjoyed the first volume well enough but the second one was a travesty. So, when I started this one, I thought my opinion on this series can only go up. And… it stagnated.

    The Good:
    - The Batburger scene was glorious! Duke was back! The Batboys were back! It was a cute little scene with Duke meeting up with the Batfamily as Bruce warns them about Bane. There was the cute bit where Bruce intimidates the hell out of the guy working the register because he asks if Bruce would like to “Jokerize” his fries. “Richard” buys Damian a Happy Meal he isn’t very happy about. I loved them bickering like siblings!

    Damian: This isn’t what I asked you to purchase, Richard
    Dick: It comes with a toy
    Jason: If you don’t want the toy, I’ll take it
    Damian: The toy is mine!
    Dick: ‘The toy isth mine!’
    Damian: I hate both of you!

    - More of them acting like siblings! Please! Then we get Damian making fun of Jason’s hairline and Duke being concerned about joining the Dead Robin Club. And Duke seriously concerned about Bruce eating a hamburger with a knife and fork. This was so lighthearted and fun and I just wanted more of this! It was beautiful! I adore the Detective Comics series but Damian, Dick and Jason have not shown up in the last 2 trades so I really liked seeing them work with Duke on this. I really thought this volume was headed towards teamwork between Batsy and the Batboys and unfortunately, I was wrong.

    The first issue is fantastic.

    The second… not so much. King is trying way too hard to make this a serious, dark and edgy storyline and it’s not working. Still a lot of repetition as far as dialogue and Bane are concerned. The “I am Not” speech hinted at several Batman villains and I got the point after two.
    Bane: I am not Crazy Quilt! I am not the Weasel! I am not Condiment King! I am not the Eggman. I am not the Walrus! Cuckoo -
    Bruce: Okay, I - I think I got it

    Also, might want to stay away from reminding me of better iterations of Batman villains... just saying.

    King’s intent to show Batsy and Bane as parallels of each other eventually made Bruce look delusional after a point. When he was a child, he still spoke to his mother - understandable. Then he grew up, became Batman and he still kept talking to her as if she was alive? Not in a “visit and talk to her gravestone” kind of way but in a I see force ghosts kind of way? I just can’t see Bruce doing that.

    The Strange? Then the book recaps the last 2 volumes over like 7 pages for reasons?? Bane is just pontificating all over the place and it's like being at an amateur poetry slam for goths. I give nightmares I am the night you forget, I am Bane. Like dude, take it down a notch.

    It's way too much and the attempts make his and Batsy’s stories seem parallel was such a big stretch. They’re similar because Bruce were felt like he was trapped in a prison when his parents died and Bane literally was? What? Then I compare it to All Star Batman where better parallels were established for a relationship with Harvey Dent. Trying to force this connection between Bruce and Bane doesn't quite work.

    Also, this is such a far cry from the Batman that distrusts supers he doesn't know. He's willing to trust and leave his city to these 2 nobodies, Gotham and Gotham Girl (urg) because they have powers? Is this Bruce Wayne? He would never do that. His biggest thing, even outside of the DCEU, is that the importance of being human and having that vulnerability is what makes you a hero. Being super powered creates a potential for a tyrannical rule and he knows that. This doesn't quite add up. I initially thought this was a cool idea but the harder Bruce leans into it… the more holes I see in his logic.

    The Whuh? That whole issue was full of some of the spaciest, overindulgent dialogue like this exchange:
    Claire:is that what it is? This whole costumed life? It's being a hero?
    Bruce: no. But most of the people who do it want it to be that.
    Clarie what about the other people? The not most. (really? really?)
    Bruce: you don't want to be them
    Claire: are you them? (my phone keeps correcting this bc it's not proper grammar)


    The Gotham Girl storyline doesn't work for me because I think this should be 100% Duke or even Harper or some other established Batfamily member having these conversations with Bruce? I mean, I'm trade waiting All Star Batman so maybe he's having those conversations with Duke in that series but you've introduced Gotham Girl solely in this series; she was a side character to her brother in the first volume and I'm supposed to be invested and believe Bruce's investment. I don't and I don't like these overdone, metaphorical conversations and for something that got him so wrapped up in Bane's web, it ended with about two panels fixing her. It's just so... disappointing.

    The Meh: The Bathound issue is short but pleasant. Again, this makes it clear that what appeals to me the most about Batman in this series is his interactions with the Batfamily.

    Maybe I would have appreciated the Swamp Thing issue more if I knew anything about Swamp Thing. Batman is a passive member of this story. The ending once again is about Bruce Wayne trying to grieve which is usually something I find relatable but here, after reading him talking to to his mother while fighting Bane, it was just too much for me

    Tl;Dr: The biggest reason I will be stopping here with this Batman series is that there just isn’t enough of an appeal for me. As I’ve said before, I’m not the biggest Bruce Wayne fan. I often find his character a little dry and boring but the one aspect of him that I respect is his intelligence. He’s cautious, studious, and near obsessive with researching and plotting out how to tackle his adversaries. I just… don’t get enough of that here. The concept of the Gotham/Goth Girl storyline confuses me. All the set up King is doing with these villains just isn’t appealing to me because everyone - everyone is so over the top and hyperbolic to the point of hilarity. I’m having more unintentional laughs than I think I’m supposed to and that’s not good. So, I’ll be getting off here and reading Detective Comics and All Star Batman instead. Yikes.

    2.5 Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels Review to be published on the release date, 9.5.17, at the request of the publisher. Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels Read as part of Batman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2

    Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels

    Monster Men. New costumed vigilantes. Mad doctors. Each new threat has brought Batman--and Gotham City--to the brink. But it was all a smokescreen for the real threat in the shadows...

    The man who has physically tested the Dark Knight like no man before is back to finally break the Bat. Can a battered, exhausted Batman fend off one of his greatest foes ever?

    Written by breakout star Tom King and illustrated by David Finch and Mikel Janín, the newest installment of this best-selling, critically acclaimed graphic novel series sees the Dark Knight take on Bane in their deadliest confrontation yet!

    Collecting: Batman 16-20, 23-24 & Batman Annual 1 Batman, Vol. 3: I Am Bane

    This is what King's run has been building up to and it doesn't disappoint. The scene in Batburger may have been the best scene in the entire book. Dick, Jason, and Damien sitting down for a fast food meal is comedy gold. I burst out laughing when Bruce took a knife and fork to his hamburger. After that, we get a nice parallel to Knightfall. Bane's coming for the Psycho Pirate and Batman needs 5 days to cure Gotham Girl. I liked that King brought back Bane's henchmen. I don't think we've seen Bird, Trogg, and Zombie since the Chuck Dixon days. One of the issues is devoted to the similarities between Bruce Wayne and Bane's childhoods, both growing up without their parents. It was one of the best issues in the book. Ultimately things come to a head with Bane and I'll leave those details for you to read in the funny pages.

    In addition to the Bane story, there's an epilogue featuring Gotham Girl and Catwoman with an ending that was Whaaaat? There was also a nice tribute to the creator of Swamp Thing, Bernie Wrightson, who recently passed away. And then they brought back Ace the Bat-Hound for a Christmas story. I guess Titus from the Batman and Robin title has been forgotten about already. Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels Following his daring raid on Bane’s island home of Santa Prisca, Batman has taken the Psycho Pirate back to restore Gotham Girl’s shattered mind. But with Bane hot on his heels, will Batman be able to keep him occupied for five days - or will Bane break the Bat once and for all?

    After two solid Batman books, I was worried that this would be the one where Tom King drops the ball (it happens to everyone eventually); thankfully, I worried in vain as I Am Bane is yet another brilliant Batman volume!

    This one’s a pretty intense read - there’s a countdown timer with one issue per day, so it’s five issues for the arc - and I was surprised that things escalated as quickly as they did (that final page of the first chapter!). Before that though is an excellent scene between Batman and the Robins in a fast food joint called “Batburger”! I liked the change of scenery from the usual Wayne Manor/Batcave setting.

    The banter between Dick, Jason and Damian was unexpectedly funny (Damian making fun of Jason’s receding hairline!) though I don’t know how they can all be solemn over Tim Drake’s recent “death” when, in a postmodern way, they were joking about their own “deaths” moments earlier - maybe King’s just being ironic?

    The storyline is an inversion of Knightfall - instead of Batman having to go through a gauntlet of enemies to get to Bane, Bane must go through the gauntlet to get to Batman - and it’s a gripping read. I really enjoyed it, King writes it so well - the dialogue is suitably hard, the action is relentless and the story flows so smoothly.

    I’m not surprised though that King went for the classic Bane storyline because the character is quite limited in what you do with him, even if King tried - and he did - to flesh him out more. And even though a certain level of stupidity has to be accepted when reading superhero comics, the overall story still undeniably felt a bit simplistic and silly. The finale is also a bit abrupt.

    Still, that’s not to say that it lacks substance. King does a fine job in showing us just why Gotham Girl is so important to Batman, particularly in the epilogue where the two characters have an introspective and thoughtful talk about what it means to be a superhero. The theme of identity that’s been a part of all three books (the subtitle of all three being “I Am…”) comes together nicely as we see both Batman and Bane contrasted as two men who’ve led hard lives, striving for inner peace/happiness.

    Their motivations not only make sense but Batman’s also segues beautifully into THAT unexpected scene with Catwoman - Batman taking the conclusion of his chat with Gotham Girl to heart. That said, I don’t think it’ll stick, particularly if DC are consistent with their stance for their characters on this sort of thing in the past. Not to mention the subtitle of that chapter: “Every Epilogue is a Prelude” - King’s got something up his sleeve for these two and I’m not convinced it’ll be as straightforward as all that.

    I was delighted to see Ace the Bat-Hound make his Rebirth debut with an excellent origin. I also enjoyed noticing the little details King sprinkled throughout: naming parts of Arkham Asylum “Morrison Hall” and “McKean Clock Tower” (Grant Morrison and Dave McKean created the classic, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth), and “Nolan Alley”. David Finch draws yet more superb pages too - his work on this Batman is the best I’ve seen his art.

    The Batman/Swamp Thing team-up, The Brave and the Mold (heh), was a bit dull. Appropriately though, for a comic dedicated to Swampy’s co-creator Bernie Wrightson who recently died, the story is about Alec’s parentage.

    If you’ve enjoyed Tom King’s Batman run as much as I have, I Am Bane won’t let you down - this title remains the jewel in DC’s Rebirth crown. It’s also the best Bane book I’ve ever read (though that’s not saying much!). I really enjoyed it - Tom King’s Batman continues to impress and thoroughly entertain. Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels Rebirth Batman (or “Afterbirth Batman” as I unfortunately continue to think of him, which makes for a mental picture that involves one slimy caped crusader) has been…okay?

    (Note to self: when you need to insert a question mark after asserting an opinion, it’s never a good sign.)

    On the one hand, we’ve gotten to see a murderer’s row (literally) of great Batman villains (this volume alone features a cavalcade of cameos from a clutch of killers; it’s like walking in a secret meeting of Bathater’s Anonymous, only without the bad coffee and powdered donuts, which is kind of a bummer (the part about the donuts, I mean—powdered donuts are underrated and, in my humble opinion, underconsumed by today’s youth)). And Bane, who takes center stage here (which should not, incidentally, be a spoiler for a volume called “I am Bane,” unless you were assuming it was metaphorical; it’s not, as Bane himself reminds readers by repeatedly quothing that phrase forevermore—I’m not sure Urkel said “Did I do that?” more in the entire run of Family Matters than Bane says “I am Bane!” in this book), can be a compelling villain—sure, he’s a roided up masher, but he’s got something of a compelling backstory, and, theoretically at least, some brains behind the brawn.

    On the other hand, characterization in these books has been spotty, and sometimes things just get confusing or ridiculous (like, why does Batman send away his Bat family in an attempt to keep them safe and then enlist help from a bunch of Arkham inmates? That’s just absurd). So, the quality has been a bit…uneven.

    On the third hand, I don’t know anatomy very well. That said, while there’s no one right way to draw Batman (Bruce Timm’s angular style was ideal for animated Batman, and Tim Sale’s moody and muted line work was the perfect complement to Batman: The Long Halloween), David Finch draws one hell of a badass, punch-‘em-in-the-mouth Batman. So, at least it’s pretty to look at.

    The greatest Bat story ever hung upside down from a cave ceiling? Nope. Good enough to keep reading? Sure…? Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels Edit - So Issue 23-24 came in here. At the time of reading single issues it did not say that. So now it does let's rate those!

    Issue 23 - 5/5 - It's one of the best stories I've read from King. Like ever. It shows off Bruce and Swamp Thing teaming up. Let's just say things get emotional, the art is wonderful, the ending is heartbreaking, and it makes me want a Swamp Thing solo story again. This was very very very well done.

    Issue 24 - 4/5 - I really love the way he writes Catwomen. Her and Bruce's relationship is interesting. However the highlight here is Gotham Girl talking to Bruce. It's both insightful of their differences in outlooks but how they're similar with their heroism. I enjoyed this quite a lot and the ending is exciting.

    Fucking FINALLY! King is here and he ready to write a GOOD arc.

    Okay well I liked I am Gotham. Some of it was dumb, but some of it was epic, and some great character moments. This is the first Great arc for me though in King's run.

    So this volume starts off with the Batfamily. Let me just say the first issue is hands down one of my favorite Rebirth issues. Damien, Dick, and Jason eating at batburger was FUNNY as hell and just worked so well. Then the issue ends with a Oh shit moment and it gets us into the meat of the arc. Bane vs Batman. Been there done that, right? However the build up, Bane showing he's not just muscle. Then the comparison of their upbringing and how goals may be the same but environment and people transform you into something very different. I really enjoyed the fact Batman doesn't just mutter the same words over and over again like in I Am Sucide which was stupid. He's quiet here but when he speaks it's filled with Zingers and fuck yous. That's what I need from bats.

    Yeah sure it still had some confusing panels here and there (catwomen one?) and some stuff wraps up to quick (how were they all saved, oh they just were) things like that are silly. But the rest? Man it was good. I loved the final showdown (I hear some didn't). But for me, this is what I wanted from King's run. Hope it keeps up. Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels I am Bane, the third volume of Tom King;s Batman run (which almost all of my Goodreads comics readers read when it came out 14 months ago), contains two main stories; one is a confrontation between Batman with Bane, who we learn (from him) is not just one of your typical cartoony Batman nemeses, such as jokers, riddlers, two-faces, cats, penguins and so on, but the Real Deal monster, though we know how it this confrontation will ultimately turn out, of course.

    That’s the thing about the Batman-villain face-offs, as Batman himself actually says to Bane: Yeah, every night various monsters tell him he is about to die, and we know he will not (or will, but only to rise again). One of King’s angles to the Bane story, echoing Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, is that Bane and Batman both act on the basis of having experienced early murderous traumas, so it kind of explains the contrast in the volume titles: I am Gotham, I am Suicide, I am Bane. Bane can’t quite reach the historical depth of Joker as a villain in the history of Batman comics, but give King credit for researching the history of Bane for the comics insiders (which doesn’t exactly include me, but I do research obscure references as I go, so I know King has read his early Bane stories). The story is not all that memorable, but there's enough of substance here to make you applaud the completion of this arc.

    But the real collector’s dimension of this volume is The Proposal, which, no, I had not read before, even though I knew it had happened, and it is memorable, and really, really good, and moving, and beautiful. Catwoman is just flat-out terrific in King's run. Give Finch some credit for that, too. So: Muted colors, subtle dialogue, just the right feels, contrasting the explosive Bane-Batman confrontation. A classic moment in Batman comics history. Well, I guess I think both of these stories are important to Batman history. This is the best of the volumes so far, pretty much a classic. Tom King is such a good writer.

    Other stuff I liked:

    *A scene in The Batburger with Bats and the Robins where Batman carves his burger with knife and fork.
    *A scene in the epilogue with Gotham Girl and Batman where they discuss what it means to be a superhero. Sweet.
    *A later Swamp Thing-Batman story. I like Swampy. It’s an homage to the late Bernie Wrightson, who early on worked on Swamp Thing.
    Literature Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Comics Graphic Novels


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