Story Arc: City of Bane Part 2.
Writer(s): Tom King.
Penciler(s): John Romita Jr., Mitch Gerads, Mikel Janín, Jorge Fornes, Hugo Petrus & Mike Norton.
Inker(s): Klaus Janson & Mitch Gerads.
Colourist(s): Tomeu Morey, Mitch Gerads, Jordie Bellaire & Dave Stewart.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Single Issues.
Release Date: July 14th, 2020.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆.
Previously on the DC Universe Rebirth’s Batman:
Batman (Vol. 1) I Am Gotham by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 1.5) Night of the Monster Men by Steve Orlando.
Batman (Vol. 2) I Am Suicide by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 3) I Am Bane by Tom King.
Batman/The Flash (Vol. 3.5) The Button by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 4) The War of Jokes and Riddles by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 5) Rules of Engagement by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 6) Bride or Burglar by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 7) The Wedding by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 8) Cold Days by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 9) The Tyrant Wings by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 10) Knightmares by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 11) The Fall and the Fallen by Tom King.
Batman (Vol. 12) City of Bane Part 1 by Tom King.
This is the final story-arc by writer Tom King for the canonical Batman comic book run before passing on the torch to writer James Tynion IV. When I picked up the first issues of this series, I was truly disappointed by his writing style, his ideas, and the direction he wanted to go. It didn’t help that he introduced two strange characters (Gotham and Gotham Girl) and had a huge fascination with Bane that translated into overly-stretched out story-arcs featuring him and his manipulative plotting to destroy Batman. While writer Tom King succeeded in delivering some interesting ideas throughout his comic book run, his best work remained in self-contained stand-alone stories outside of his Batman comic book series. Those stories gave me hope and led me to stick around. Now it is time to see if he can pull off a miracle with his last Batman story and allow his departure to be glorious and respectable. Collecting issues #80-85 of DC’s Rebirth Batman comic book series, as well as Batman: Annual #4, Eisner-Award winning writer Tom King delivers the final story arc to his run called City of Bane Part 2.
What is Batman: City of Bane Part 2 about? With Gotham now reined in by Flashpoint Batman and Gotham Girl, the whole city left under the control of the criminal underground, it is now time for Batman and Catwoman to return to their city for their final confrontation with Bane and his army. While some allies still stand their ground throughout this war, the ultimate battle lies in Batman’s acceptance of his purpose, his motivation, and his life. However, his return is not without a plan. He remains prepared but will not be ready for a couple of surprises patiently waiting for him, including the death of a loved one. The real question now is if he’ll let Bane break him once again or punch his way to saving himself and his city from the prison they are trapped in.
“I swear by the spirit of my parents to protect your life. By spending the rest of my life warring against anything that might cause you pain.”
— Tom King
The story kicks off with the arrival of Batman and Catwoman to Gotham. Their entrance isn’t accompanied by a bang but instead limited itself to be tamed with little hint of any real emotions stimulated. The fact that this part was drawn by John Romita Jr. didn’t help either as his blocky style was dull and disenchanting. Several plot twists are then delivered with the help of Tom King’s greatest artistic collaborators (Mitch Gerads, Mikel Janín, and Jorge Fornes) who all succeed in presenting stellar artwork that could merit no form of criticism but only praise and admiration. But art alone couldn’t save the choppy story-telling by writer Tom King. As he builds up the climactic confrontation between Batman and Bane, he uninspiringly reveals the Caped Crusader’s strategies to take back his city while also giving us the much-needed exposition regarding Flashpoint Batman’s journey to becoming Batman’s nemesis through a reverse-chronological narrative. This sudden shift in the main antagonist was also uncalled for and quietly destroyed Bane’s relevance in the grand scheme of things.
As much as I wished this final act would deliver everything his last story-arcs were missing, this choppy ending barely scratched the itch and varied enormously in terms of quality. Some of the best moments were spare and were mostly found in Bruce Wayne’s speedy mourning as he dealt with the devastating loss he suddenly discovers. The rest of the narrative focused around Batman, Catwoman, Bane, and Flashpoint Batman failed to inspire and invite the reader to connect and appreciate the resolution. If it weren’t for some incredibly visionary artistic direction, a lot of this would have simply slipped through my consciousness and entered the realm of the forgotten. At least, the Annual issue, despite having nothing to do with the story itself, allowed for a quick and solid chronicle by Alfred Pennyworth of the ludicrous yet heroic stunts that he witnessed Batman accomplish on a daily basis, from killing dragons to scoring a touchdown. The epilogue chapter hinting readers of writer James Tynion IV’s upcoming story was also a wonderful tease for a fan burnt out on writer Tom King’s abstract and flawed ideas with Batman.
Batman: City of Bane Part 2 is an unsatisfying finale to writer Tom King’s Batman comic book run.