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Batman #20 is the fifth and final issue of the “I am Bane” story arc, and is the culmination of what has building up over the past 19 issues. The confrontation between Bane and Batman for not only the life of Gotham girl, but the city of Gotham itself, will be determined in a final battle inside the walls of Arkham Asylum. Our Batman contributor is finally back and is here to break down the final issue of the first true Tom King story arc.
Review: Batman 20, I am Bane Part 5
“Yeah, yeah…I know…Y-You’re Bane. But You…I think you… forgot… I’M BATMAN.”
Some spoilers ahead!
After Bane was able to fight his way across Arkham and defeat every other villain that got in his way, he is now face to face with the only man he has wanted to see all day: Batman. As Bane confronts Batman, he is very quick to remind him that this moment right here between them is just like moment when Batman was on top of the plane (Batman #1 Vol. 3), where Batman knew this was the end of the line for him. This obviously did not happen, because Gotham and Gotham Girl saved him from his certain death.
Bane is putting a beat down to Batman, and Bane is promising Batman that this will be his last night on earth. Bane is also promising Batman that his death will only be the first of many. He will kill all who are close to Bruce, starting with Alfred, Gotham Girl (Claire) and the City of Gotham itself. Death is imminent and there is little Batman can do. Batman tells Bane that this is not the first time he has heard that (look at quote above).
Bane knew that Batman saw something, a new hope for the city of Gotham, in Gotham and Gotham Girl which is why he is going to all these lengths to kidnap the Psycho-Pirate to save Claire. The endgame to all this trouble, all this fighting with Bane was always because of Gotham Girl. Batman found hope for Gotham City within Claire and Henry (Gotham Girl and Gotham), and he lost that hope when Gotham died. That is why Batman went to extreme ends to try and fix her.
While on his last breaths, Bruce begins to hear his mother’s voice from the great beyond asking him to let go and join his family. Instead Batman, with his back against the wall, is able to muster up all of is energy and knock Bane out with a single head butt. Bruce explains to his mother, that it was ever about victory but it was about trying to save a girl he felt was wronged. Claire is the only thing that kept Bruce alive.
Batman 20 signifies the end of not only the, I am Bane storyline, but it also signifies the conclusion of the story that has been building up over the past four arcs: (I am Gotham, Night of the Monster Men, I am Suicide and I am Bane). Tom King just wrapped up what I truly believe to be a wonderful story, that gave another angle to the already very complex and unique character.
The layer that King added to that Batman mythos is that Batman openly (through the narrator) talks to his mother in his head. This was seen in previous issues in this run, but pronounced very much so in Batman #50 when at the end of the issue Bruce’s mother, as the narrator, tried to prove to the reader that Batman was doing it for his parents. This has been common knowledge that the reason Bruce picked up crime fighting was to avenge his parent’s death. Batman wanted to clean up the streets, so this wouldn’t happen to anyone ever again.
But the truth is, as Ton King tells us, is that Batman is doing all of this because it is the right thing to do. It might have started off as Batman fighting for his parents, but now Bruce does it because it’s the right thing. This was perhaps always implied, but not stated, and I think gives a new layer to character of Batman, in this new Rebirth era. To Bruce, Gotham and Gotham girl personified the city of Gotham and saw a future of the city without him. This is why it must have felt a part of him died after the events of I am Gotham. As stated earlier, the endgame had always been Gotham Girl, and Batman felt as though the need to do what’s best for her
Bruce’s mother was not the only narrator in this issue. Bane was narrator for most of the issue, in where he summarized the entire story arc, to give us the perspective as to how this had been building up over the last year. This type of storytelling for this particular issue, I thought, was a good idea. Since the entire issue focuses on Batman and Bane fighting and nothing much as far as linear story, Bane reminiscing and recapping the story in his POV was a good idea to summarize where we had been, and possibly going with in Tom King’s run.
Because the entire issue is set during the epic fight, and the imagery is very vivid. Bane is so menacing, and I love it. This Bane is the one that reminds me of the Knightfall run, the one that shows little mercy. Because the entire issue is set during the epic fight, and the imagery is very vivid. The penciling by David Finch and the inks by Dannt Miki and Trevor Scott not only emphasize Bane’s ferociousness, but also the brutality of the fight between Batman and Bane. The dichotomy between the dialogue and the art in the fight worked so well together. The dialogue gave depth to the fight, and the art brought it very much to life. It made you remember and care as to why they were fighting in the first place.
I do have high praises for this issue, but I did have one complaint about it is that Batman got his butt kicked for an entire issue and all it took was a head-butt to stop Bane. I would wish the fight would have been a bit more back and forth. I would have liked to have seen Batman methodically take Bane down, reminiscent of how Batman took down the Mutant Gang Leader on The Dark Knight Returns, but I do understand you can only fit so much in 24 pages.
I’m excited to see what King does in the upcoming story arc, Batman and the Button.
A Fitting Ending
Batman #20 was fitting ending for what has been building up for 19 issues. King makes some fundamental changes to the Batman character that make a much more well rounded person. This Batman story arc was a good start for Tom King in Batman and it has me excited to what he has coming up next!