Except for its first chapter, which had lots of pages and very little story, City of Bane has been a captivating read – and the latest installment is no exception.
Tom King’s script is largely action oriented, with Batman making quick work of Bane’s brainwashed police force of Gotham hoodlums. After two issues focused on Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, which were very well done, this is the adrenaline shot City of Bane needed. King has brought the Bat back in full force, ready to take the fight to Bane – whose stronghold seems to be crumbling.
There is a plot thread centered around Thomas Wayne and Gotham Girl, both of whom may have sided with the wrong individual. Thomas Wayne has been put in a difficult position by the end of this issue, as his end goals are starting to clash with Bane’s campaign against Batman. Gotham Girl is falling deathly ill, an idea that was set-up in the Batman/Flash cross-over, “The Price”. The former hero was previously depicted as Bane’s main enforcer, keeping the DC Universe’s heroes from entering Gotham. Gotham Girl falling ill and the big decision facing the Flashpoint Batman symbolize the cracks in Bane’s plan – and make for some interesting character drama.
Thomas Wayne’s inner conflict is also connected to one of the broader themes that Tom King has been working with since his run began: love. King has often said his run is essentially a love story. Therefore, I find it interesting that a potential new source of conflict between Bane and Thomas Wayne stems from familial love. Without going into spoilers, the elder Wayne’s love for his family, something shown on many occasions in King’s run, is creating inner turmoil that could affect his partnership with Bane. Whatever the outcome may be — we will find out in issue eighty-one — it is an interesting plot point that serves a larger thematic purpose.
Not only is this Batman comic well written, it also look pretty damn good. Tom King is an artist’s writer, perfectly crafting his scripts to the strengths of his collaborators. David Finch drew blockbuster action storylines and Mitch Gerads was brought in for shorter, experimental pieces. King’s latest partner in crime, John Romita Jr, is no exception. The action-oriented approach to the story suits Romita’s art style, with cinematic fight sequences that are perfectly paced and that bring a lot of energy to Batman’s triumphant return to Gotham. Batman’s showdown with Hush, a batarang/pistol duel, is the issue’s visual highlight, and a joy to read.
King’s run has been about Batman’s resilience as a character, and even though it has its ups and downs, I think King’s final story-arc on the title is on track for a strong finish.