BATMAN #20 REVIEW – “I Am Bane: Part Five”
Written by: Tom King
Art by: David Finch
Batman #20 is one of the most important issues so far in Batman’s Rebirth continuity. Tom King started the Batman title with the “I Am Gotham” story arc, followed by “I Am Suicide”, and “I Am Bane” to conclude. This issue wraps up the “I Am Bane” story arc, effectively wrapping up the story that most of the last 19 issues have been telling. And it does so beautifully.
Bane’s rampage in issue #19 through Arkham Asylum has finally led him to face Batman. This time, Bane is fully equipped with Venom, and is fueled by a vendetta against Batman for how their previous encounter ended. Batman, seemingly against all odds (as usual), stands ready for the fight, and at the same time ready to die (as usual).
If you haven’t read any issues of the Batman title since Rebirth, this is a great place to start oddly enough. About half of the issue is spent recapping all of the major events from the previous 19 issues to highlight the real reason why Batman is fighting this war against Bane.
Bane has a brief moment of dialogue in issue #18 that echoes throughout this chapter: “All it is is a matter of will. Who has the stronger will? Who will give in first?” The battle between Batman and Bane is almost completely one-sided as Bane continuously pummels the Dark Knight. It’s a bit frustrating to know that Batman is a master of combat; yet see his skills either neglected by the writing or be simply ineffective against Bane. Either way, throughout the battle, I just kept remembering “all it is is a matter of will”.
To avoid spoilers, I’ll simply say that the conclusion of the battle is actually a bit anticlimactic. But, for me, that ended up being a nonissue more or less. The lackluster ending of the battle between Batman and Bane didn’t detract from the weight of the narrative climax that’s happening at the same time.
As the story concludes, Batman’s true motives are made very clear, and this multi-layered story arc concludes in a way that honors the character of Batman and emphasizes his true heroism.
Tom King keeps a solid pacing throughout this issue, while bouncing back and forth between recap narrative and dialogue between Batman and Bane. Overall, King has done a great job as a writer getting to the core of Batman. It’s not the prettiest thing to watch, but I think most Bat-fans will be very happy with the way he concludes this chapter in the Batman mythos.
There were many times throughout the issue that I got some “The Dark Knight Returns” vibes from David Finch’s art, which fit well to tell this particular story. Finch does a great job at capturing the brutality of this intense fight, and also softens the tone at just the right moments in the main narrative.
Some writers may have used this finale issue to tie up loose ends and set up the next story arc. But Tom King doesn’t do that. He focuses on answering the big, underlying question of this massive story: why does Batman continue to do what he does? And I think most Bat-fans will be satisfied with the answer.
Batman #20 is one of the most important issues so far in Batman’s Rebirth continuity. Tom King’s multi-layered story arc concludes in a way that honors the character of Batman and emphasize his true heroism.