Sunday, February 19, 2017

Comic Book Review: Batman #17, I Am Bane, Pt. 2

By: Jerry Montgomery
February 16, 2017

Batman #17
“I Am Bane, Part Two”

Written by: Tom King
Pencils and Inks by: David Finch

Prepare to have your mind blown. But, to be fair, I'll be your Morpheus to your Neo and give you a choice…the red pill or the blue pill.  Take the blue pill and the story ends, wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe…so stop reading now… or take the red pill and see how deep the Rebirth universe goes. Wait a minute, you say, I thought this was a review for Batman #17 , so why are you talking about Rebirth?  I’ll get to that in a sec. For now, just take a moment to let it all soak in to help wrap your little noggin around it.

“I Am Bane, Part Two “  is chapter two in the third arc in a trilogy of story lines which began with the “I am Gotham” story, followed by the “I Am Suicide” arc. Though these storylines all dealt with different plots, they all had an underlying common one… Gotham Girl and the Psycho Pirate. You may not be familiar with Gotham Girl as she is a new character, first appearing in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, and featured with her brother, Gotham,  in the “I Am Gotham” arc. Writer Tom King has stated that Gotham Girl stands to play a very important part in the life of Batman, evident in her narrative, mentioning her marriage to Duke Thomas/Batwing and the death of Batman.

 The Psycho Pirate, perhaps in his most significant appearance since “Crisis on Infinite Earths” also plays a pivotal role in this “I Am” trilogy. In “I Am Gotham” arc, he fractures the mind of Gotham Girl and almost defeats the Justice League.  In the “I Am Suicide” arc, he comforts a venom-free Bane with his powers, the only thing that relieves Bane’s pain wracked body. That power is sought after by Batman to heal the mentally fragile Gotham Girl, prompting him to form his own suicide squad from the cells of Arkham to capture the Pirate from the island fortress of Santa Prisca and Bane.

Now in the “I Am Bane” arc, Bane wants him back and revenge upon the Batman.  This, Batman knows. In the previous issue #16, Bruce Wayne attempts to get all those he cares about away from Gotham City, aware of the storm that is coming. What Bruce’s friends and allies cannot understand is that he wants to face Bane alone. Gotham Girl begins her first psychotherapy session with the Psycho Pirate at Arkham Asylum. Batman has estimated that it will take five days for her mind to heal. Five days to get everyone he loves out of harm’s way. By the end of the issue, we know that he severely underestimated Bane’s timeline, as Batman finds Nightwing,  Robin and Red Hood hanging lifeless from ropes around their necks in the Batcave. The storm has come. Issue #17 picks up with Batman placing the past and present Robins into some sort of stasis or life support chambers within Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Once again, Superman is perplexed why Batman must face Bane alone, promising to look after those who are injured. It is revealed that Bane has not come to Gotham City alone to draw out Batman. He has brought old allies himself to see his plan through.

Now, let’s get back to that mind-blowing bit. You know that when Rebirth began, it set all characters back to issue 1 to bring them into these contemporary times…make them relevant to issues and themes that are of concern today. What you may not know is how it happened or better yet, who made it happen. If you know comics then you know The Watchmen.  It's perhaps the greatest comic series ever written. If you know The Watchmen,  then you know the character of Dr. Manhattan. It is he who set the DC universe back, erasing the known continuity and making everyone ten years younger. Why? It hasn’t yet been revealed his reasons but what is Dr. Manhattan doing in this DC existence? What does this mean? Could it mean a convergence of the two universes?! Imagine Rorschach and Batman together…or the Comedian. That will twist your head! Both Batman and The Flash know that something is amiss. He knows that ten years are gone and all he’s got to go on is a smiley faced button with some bean juice on it (Human bean juice.)  Who better to unlock the mysteries of Rebirth? And the Psycho Pirate? He’s one of the few characters that still remembers all the continuity…even what doesn’t exist anymore, so these relationships with one another should prove to be nothing more than interesting of what is and what could be.

The Verdict: Issue #17 is a must read for any Batman fan, if not only for classic Bane, but for its piece in upcoming events that could reach epic proportions. Things that possibly involve the merging of The Watchmen universe. Tom King’s writing is great, having said he’s had the first 25 issues plotted out, specifically the above mentioned trilogy. David Finch’s artwork is detailed and awesome to illustrate what could become a much talked about title by the time its all done. Warning though… reading this issue could lead to trying to track down the previous issues to try and figure out the mysteries of Rebirth on your own.

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