Batman (Volume 3) I Am Bane (Rebirth) by Tom King

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“I am Bane.”

— Tom King, Batman (Volume 3) I Am Bane

    I really wanted to love this volume. I thought this would be the moment where Tom King finally has a decent grasp on how to write a Batman story arc through a bi-weekly 25-page-long comic issue business structure. With the way things have been getting better (yet always flawed), I thought volume 3, I Am Bane, would be a game-changer. In fact, the way Bane was introduced in volume 2, I Am Suicide, I could only imagine that the Bane-centric story to come would blow things out of the water, or in this case, out of Gotham.

I guess I was wrong.

    This volume contains issues #16 to 20 as well as #23 and #24.

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    I Am Bane (which includes issues #16 to 20 as well as #23 and #24) starts off extremely promising. The Bat Family meets up in the most unexpected place and have the most genuine and intimate moment around the table. Bruce warns them all to stay safe and away from an inevitable fight with Bane, a showdown that should be only his problem, and no one else’s. From that moment on, shit hits the fan and everything seems to go downhill for Batman. An unexpected and highly tragic moment hits us like a hurricane. This brings Bruce to call up one his most trusted friend for a favor that will give him the necessary mindset and space to settle things once and for all with Bane.

    This is when a five day mission to keep Psycho Pirate away from Bane—enough time for Bruce and Alfred to fix Gotham Girl up from her mental breakdown—is revealed. As you might recall in volume 2, I Am Suicide, Batman steals Psycho Pirate away from Bane, disrupting the peace that existed between these two individuals. While Psycho Pirate’s special mask is a cure to Gotham Girl’s predicament, he is also the cure to Bane’s sanity. As much as you want to love Batman for doing all this in order to save Gotham Girl, too much felt at stake. For someone who broke into Bane’s sanctuary with an insane plan in the previous volume, this story arc showed us an even more chaotic and risky strategy.

The story then shifts into showing Bane’s plan to use a couple of Batman’s “allies” for blackmailing purposes. There was a couple twists here and then that really caught my eye and had me excited and pumped, but then there were plot holes and incomprehensible moments that just didn’t work for me. Spoiler (Highlight To See) : «Could someone explain to me how Serena Kyle gets captured in a civilian outfit only to be seen afterwards tied up in her Catwoman suit? Did Bane force her to strip and suit up for theatrical purposes? Could someone also tell me why they never thought it would be a good idea to show us how Catwoman escaped and how it was all part of the plan to get Bane chasing after Batman?».

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    Tom King tried really hard to make Batman and Bane similar on a psychological level. In fact, he tried to exhibit a side of Batman that has never really been done before, one where Batman suffers from discrete psychosis and isn’t as sane as we wish he was. In fact, it felt like Tom King wanted us to wonder if an individual like Bruce Wayne could actually be sane enough to be doing all the things he’s done in his life. It felt like this Batman-Bane comparison had the ultimate purpose of reminding us that a guy who dresses up like a bat and who’s done really insane things—and survived them—isn’t a person who hasn’t suffered immensely or who could live a day mentally stable. Maybe this arc had that very purpose, but I couldn’t bring myself to embrace such a depiction of Batman. It just seemed too out the blue to get me to truly appreciate and acknowledge such a vision.

    The final two issues are probably the ones that really left me in awe and left me greatly unsatisfied by the story we got. As volume 2, I Am Suicide, might have already indicated, Tom King draws inspiration from the original Knightfall by Doug Moench story arc to deliver his Bane story. This time around, things are flipped upside down. Spoiler (Highlight To See) : «Instead of having Bane unleash all of Batman’s villain to assault him in their own devious ways, Batman is now the one who bargains with an arsenal of villains to slow down and tire down Bane. This story arc could’ve easily been called Banefall, but clearly they didn’t want us to see too much into the inspiration.» As interesting as the idea was, it really felt uninspiring and unoriginal to me. While the panel-to-panel punching and kicking scenes were powerful and chilling (due essentially to the fantastic artwork by David Finch and Mikel Janin), it didn’t make any sense to me that you could pummel through all these characters while delivering a continuous speech on how unstoppable you are.

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    Through an “unknown” narrator, the last issue served as a huge wrap-up of what has been going on so far in the story arc. It’s the revelation of this narrator that made me realize the whole new Batman persona that Tom King was trying to bring life to (with all the deranged theme going on). As I mentioned earlier, the revelation that Spoiler (Highlight To See) : «Bruce Wayne still talked to his deceased mom» just didn’t stick with me. I also really hated how the whole Batman vs. Bane battle went down. Spoiler (Highlight To See) : «A heavily injured Batman, one that took more beating than a good omelette, comes out victorious by screaming: “I AM BATMAN!” and giving a solid headbutt to a Bane who couldn’t stop saying: “I AM BANE!” was just highly disappointing.». Tom King’s repetitive writing style also wasn’t my cup of tea. After testing it out a couple times in the previous volumes, hasn’t anyone tried to tell him that it wasn’t appealing? Man… It just doesn’t seem to work for me.

    Volume 3 also awkwardly includes issues #23 and #24 at the end. Issue #23 offers a little off-story team-up with Batman and one of the most beloved swamp creature in the DC universe. The issue was absolutely unrelated to anything that happened so far to Batman (I am Bane or The Button storyarcs). It had some really interesting ideas conveyed, but, for the most part, was really stagnant. The story is also divided in super short chapters that had the vintage black and white silent movie chapter panels that always featured a title that was also a piece of the dialogue that would appear in the next panel immediately. In fact, speaking of repetition, you can expect to see some more of that throughout the issues as a song is kept on repeat throughout the story. Issue #24 was much more related to I am Bane, but came out super boring in the end. The conversation between Batman and Gotham Girl seemed to be on a loop that never really caught my attention. It also ended with a huge plot twist, something that you’ve never seen happen in the past (canon story). I wasn’t too amazed by this move by Tom King though. The whole “in fear, we say and do crazy things” was stretched to the max in this one.

    I’m not sure if a re-read would help or worsen the case, but I can see why this storyarc is able to please a lot of other fans. There are some really brilliant moments sprinkled throughout the story arc, but the consistency wasn’t there. This could’ve been phenomenal, but things thoroughly went downhill towards the end. Now I shall remain optimistic even if everything has been telling me that Tom King’s Batman stories don’t want to impress me. I’ll be waiting for the 4-part DC event crossover with Batman and the Flash to come out and, hopefully, this “The Button” story arc will bring back joy in me regarding this Rebirth Batman series.

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Did you read Batman (Volume 3): I Am Bane yet? What did you think about it?
You haven’t read it, you say?
Let’s fix that right away!
You can order your copy @Amazon Canada / Indigo Chapters right here!
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/

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26 thoughts on “Batman (Volume 3) I Am Bane (Rebirth) by Tom King

  1. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Oh I’m sorry this book wasn’t as good as you’d hoped it would be Lashaan. Some of the things you mentioned in your review that Tom King tried to do – like the Batman-Bane comparisons which even though it wasn’t your thing still sounds like an interesting direction to take the story and Bruce Wayne’s character – sounded like they could have been epic. I guess after the promising start as well you just hoped for more right?
    Still great review Lashaan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Those were definitely pretty interesting. The first time he does the Batman-Bane comparison, he uses a whole issue to do panel to panel comparisons (like… you’d see Bruce Wayne’s parents laying on the ground dying, and then you’d see Bane’s parents killed off brutally, and then you’d have something with Batman, then Bane, and so on). At first, I thought that was really cool, but then it’s the purpose behind these comparisons and the message we’re supposed to understand from all this that have me perplexed. Honestly, I’m maybe too rough on Tom King and this story arc in particular because I know that something even better COULD’ve been done. People who just wants to enjoy the new Batman stories might find this absolutely thrilling! 😀 I’ll still continue on with the series, cause Batman <3, but I do hope they switch the writer out with someone else soon. I'd really like to see someone else bring something new and much more ground-breaking to the table.

      Thank you again Beth for checking this out! I know you're a more Marvel gal than DC, and that you don't necessarily plan on reading this Batman run, but I totally appreciate your feedback. Love to hear the thoughts of others on what I share, just to see if it might also intrigue them, even if it disappoints me! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        It certainly sounds like the way it was set out in the comics was well formatted. But I guess getting the message behind the images through to the readers is really the whole thing isn’t it? If it doesn’t feel right it doesn’t matter how good the images are.
        Well either way it’s great you’re still carrying on with the series, hopefully the next book will be better! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. healed1337 says:

    I felt pretty much the same way about this story arc. It started off really well, but it got really weak by the end. The fight scene in the last issue was just over the top brutal. When Bane can punch through concrete with a single punch, yet Batman (who isn’t supposed to have superpowers) is able to survive multiple punches to the face, there’s something wrong here.

    I dropped this run after I Am Bane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I’m quite glad to hear that you share the same thoughts as I do. I’m really disappointed by how things unfolded in this one. The brutal beatdown that Batman takes was surreal. But how he EASILY takes down Bane afterwards? That’s just… stupid. One could argue that Bane was beyond exhausted or some shit, but even that would make this whole fight ridiculous. I really hated the number of times we got an I AM BANE-I AM BATMAN exchange too. Tom King really isn’t showing me that he’s a good writer when he continuously uses his repetitious-writing strategy.

      I’m sticking around to find out how Tom King will do Joker and Riddler in the next story arc (after the Button crossover). I really hope things will be better.

      Like

  3. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    Once again, an amazing review that even non-Batman fans can appreciate! I’m sorry this one didn’t quite do it for you, but hey, the great thing about comics is that there are many more to enjoy 🙂 (In fact, way too many sometimes XD )
    Best of luck with your next reads, Lashaan! ^^

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris Evans says:

    Bummer, sorry to hear you had issues with this arc mate. I certainly appreciate and understand many of the points you make and I especially enjoyed the way you touched on the psychological aspects of the story which I hadn’t fully considered! I found myself enjoying “I am Bane” quite a bit but I guess that arises from my fondness of the Knightfall saga which came at a time when my comics fandom was really growing so it had a profound effect on me all those years ago.

    David Finch’s art was a definite highlight, as you know visual consistency with the Rebirth title has become a source of contention for me so it was good that we had one great artist handling the whole arc. I think Tom King’s run shows signs of getting stronger but maybe a co-writer might boost creativity a little?

    “The Button” has been pretty good although I feel it’s going to be a bit short at four chapters (I think the finale was due this week but seems to have been delayed).

    Have you read any of Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman? I hear it’s been quite strong and I plan to check out volume 1 – although I’m put off by the fact that John Romita Jr provides the art for that first arc 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      The throwback to the first volume of Knightfall was pretty cool to some extent. I guess I was just hoping for something so much more, bigger and “new” from this story arc. But man David Finch’s artwork was definitely the highlight, well, more like this whole Batman Rebirth series. I really did appreciate the design for Bane and all those scenes that made sure to convey that raw power of his. I think a co-writer.. or just a different writer would be nice after volume 4 (with Joker and Riddler). Unless that volume manages to truly surprise me, I might just support his efforts in creating compelling Batman stories.

      I have 3 out of 4 issues right now and plan on picking up the 4th on around June (just so I can also pick up the last 2 aftermath issues related to I Am Bane. I hear good things about it, but the fact that it’s only 4 issues long really worries me. 😦

      I wanted to try Snyder’S All-Star series since its initial release, and pick up the issues, but I felt like I should wait for the trades for this one… Something about All-Star series and the artist behind this project just made me want to hold back on it. I definitely plan on checking that out in the future though. Have you heard about Snyder’s other project in collaboration with Dynamite? The series is called Batman/The Shadow and it has Snyder and Orlando working together I believe. It sounds like a pretty cool Noir series (been craving for those since a while now).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris Evans says:

        I have indeed heard about the Batman/Shadow series – I’ve enjoyed Dynamite’s past Shadow titles and enjoyed them so I may very well check it out when it’s collected. The Button definitely feels too short but I suppose it depends what ongoing ramifications the finale establishes. Looking forward to the Joker/Riddler arc fingers crossed that King can really up his game for that!

        Liked by 1 person

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