Written by Tom King
Art by David Finch, Danny Miki and Jordie Bellaire
Lettering by John Workman
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Batman has always been defined not just by the high concepts of his rogues, but by their similarities to the Dark Knight himself. The Joker represents chaos to the Batman’s order, Two-Face represents the perversion of Batman’s quest for justice, while the Penguin possesses Bruce Wayne’s resources without any of his scruples.
And in that regard, Batman #18 attempts to position Bane as something of an anti-Batman - forged in the same tragedies and tempered with the same determination to make sense out of the senseless. While one might argue that King’s story wraps up a little too easily, given that this premise has been tackled by other writers in the past, you can’t deny that artist David Finch is a force of nature with this issue, delivering a potent action book that plays up Bane as a serious threat.
When DC first announced David Finch as the artist on Batman, there was some palpable excitement that rang out over the understandable doubts over scheduling - he’s an artist with an undeniable talent and a clear following, but I think Batman #18 shows Finch really maximizing his potential. Teaming up with inker Danny Miki, there’s a grittiness to Finch’s style that suits Gotham and its inhabitants, but is particularly effective showing the gnarly and rippled physique of Bane, whose fists swing through the rain like oversized mallets. Bane looks absolutely fearsome here, with Miki’s rendering playing up the tortured physiques of these two combatants, while colorist Jordie Bellaire gives Bane some nice pop with his bold red eyes and the eerie green Venom tubes pumping into his skull.
Riding that artistic wave, King has Bane spitting out his dialogue, defining himself as nothing the Batman has ever faced before.
“I am not a child’s fairy tale! I am not a circus act here to amuse and frighten you! I am not another one of your madmen howling at the moon!”
Whereas Batman has gotten the upper hand on Bane in previous issues, the tables are turned here, with Bane beating the holy hell out of Batman as King analyzes the similarities between the two. While some of King’s dialogue can be a bit stilted - hearing a young Bane repeatedly say the word “Mommy” feels awkward, given his usually crisp syntax, and sometimes the parallel dialogue can feel a bit forced - it’s a good way for new readers to get up to speed, and to show that Bane’s qualities as a character make him a good match to break the Bat.
That all said, however, as King gets his momentum going with the Batman-Bane dynamic, the ending of his story feels both abrupt and altogether too convenient, with Batman himself being cast aside in favor of a third party fighting his battles for him. It’s not to say that this guest star isn’t a welcome one, but King’s choice ultimately reduces Batman to a prop in his own book - he exists mainly to give Bane more context, rather than having a discernible role in affecting the story, and it makes the solution feel unsatisfying and unearned.
But ultimately, Batman #18 isn’t meant to be a narrative triumph - after all, we’re only in Part Three of “I Am Bane,” so we shouldn’t expect any game-changers here - but it is an artistic one. This is by far one of the strongest issues that David Finch has delivered not just for this series, but across his entire DC tenure. Putting him on a Bane-centric storyline has DC tapping into Finch’s stylistic strengths as a creator, making Batman #18 a must-read for the visuals if nothing else.