So right off the bat, (pun intended) I am Bane is a fantastic read, exploring the many sides of Batman’s life, heroes, and monsters. It’s written by Tom King, who has worked on other comics, such as The Vision and Nightwing v3. As the replacement for Snyder on Batman, he is more than qualified to delve into the psyche of Batman and extract a portrait of him that we don’t often get to see.
I Am Bane takes place over three acts; the unearthing of Bane, his defeat at the hands of Batman, and the after effects of Batman’s battle with him. The poetic style of writing used by Tom King fits very well with Batman, whose life is very much a Shakespearean play at times, so why not use a prose that matches the Bat?
The age old question regarding Batman has always been which identity is the mask? Is it Batman or Bruce Wayne? I have largely accepted that Bruce Wayne is the mask, but I Am Bane, does a fantastic job reminding us that it is the tragedy suffered by Bruce Wayne that allows for the existence of The Batman, heedless of his current dominant personality.
What brings this story to life, is that from the very beginning we are reminded Bane has and always will be a monster. He is not here to play games with anyone after Batman disrespected him in his own home. He is only here to break the Batman and those who support him.
Bane’s origin story is recounted alongside Batman’s, the similarities between the two men are eerie. The main difference, though, is that after the loss of each of their parents, Bruce Wayne was comforted by Commissioner Gordon, and raised by Alfred and Bane was imprisoned for the majority of his life by a monster of a man, and only able to survive by becoming a monster himself. It is very much because of this divide in survival that a fight for supremacy breaks out between the two, pitting the entirety of the villains and heroes of Gotham against one or the other.
The moments of association between both men and monsters were heartbreaking, but served to show that behind every monster is a man first. The seeds of humanity lay the foundations for what makes a good villain or hero. At the end of it all the confrontation between Batman and Bane lies in everything the other man is not.
Meanwhile the end of this issue was not what I expected even though I had already heard rumblings of it on the internet; mainly Batman’s proposal to Catwoman. It was a story line that dealt mainly with the antagonism between Batman and Bane, but its addition of his proposal to Catwoman ends up being executed quite well.
The story doesn’t seek to hide Catwoman’s involvement and is able to blend her purpose and character into the story line. Was I taken aback by the proposal? Of course not, it’s Batman and Catwoman. That’s a relationship that’s been in existence since the inception of Batman and I love to see that side of him.
At the end of the day, this is still a story involving Batman, which means a ton of violence. But in conjunction with the writing, both complimented each other well. The ability to make graphic violence seem beautiful is often hard to do.
Aside from the main plot, we get three mini stories that serve to account for plot that is sometimes overshadowed by the enormities of what Batman himself is capable of accomplishing. Alfred getting Batman a dog for Christmas and plant man Alec coming into town spouting existentialism but still being a monster was great.
The artwork was well done, even though most, if not all, are characters we’ve seen in one form or another. The artwork was able to seem fresh, especially with the expansive cast of characters from Batman’s proteges, most of the villains he’s faced in the past as well as the flash backs of him as a child.
In all, this was a very well written and drawn story that definitely impressed, and I would recommend you pick this up whether or not you’re the quintessential Batman fan.
No human could exist as Batman with all the beatings he takes. He would be in therapy for the majority of the year and only able to fight for a small portion of it.