REVIEW: Batman #18

Two issues ago, I pointed out that Bruce Wayne was a psychopath for eating a hamburger with a fork and knife. In the current issue, Tom King not only called and raised, but then went all in on Bruce Wayne’s unstable psyche. And for the first time, it feels like a misstep.

I loved the present day fight between Batman and Bane. Bane himself points out that he is unlike Batman’s other enemies. He doesn’t do clever misdirection like the Joker or the Riddler. He doesn’t have the moral complexity of Catwoman. Bane is primarily a big, muscle-bound brute who specializes in beating Batman up.

And he sure lives up to that. During the fight, Batman get knocked around like a rag doll. It is brutal. I expected to hear his back snap again.

However, the entire confrontation is contrasted with the matching backstories of Batman and Bane. And I get it. There is a slim difference between Batman being a super hero and being a criminal.

The flashbacks are undercut by two things. The first is that their lives are perfect mirrors. Each experiences the same things, at the same times in their lives. King (The Vision, Grayson) makes them near perfect parallels. That bothered me a great deal. If they were shown to have similar but different experiences as they were growing up, the sequences would have worked so much better.

The second issue I had seen Batman and Bane’s mommy issues. Again I get that the trauma of losing their parents has decimated their souls. But having both of them talking to their dead mothers through 13 straight panels each, makes it more than a little crazy. It makes Bane less a fun-house mirror of Batman than an almost exact duplicate. As a matter of fact, King seems to be saying that there is no difference between the two.

David Finch’s art continues to shine throughout the issue. The fight between Batman and Bane contains many call backs to famous panels from Batman’s history. Not only is there a panel that calls back to Bane breaking Batman’s back, but there is one of Bane’s cleated boot stomping on Batman that is a clear call back to Miller’s original Dark Knight Returns.

I especially love Catwoman’s revenge, which calls back to Finch’s (Wonder Woman, Moon Knight) own work in issue 16.

Even with King’s misstep with parallelism, this book is still at a level that few others are touching. I can hardly wait for the two weeks until the next issue.

Writer: Tom King
Pencils: David Finch
Inks: Danny Miki
Color: Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: DC

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