Updated: Jan 25
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Tony Daniel & Mitch Gerads
Colorists: Tomeu Morey & Mitch Gerads
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
As Tom King enters the endgame of his epic BATMAN run, we enter the long awaited "City of Bane" storyline. King has been planting the seed for this arc dating all the way to his first issue on the series. This is the story that is set to change Batman in such a drastic a way that hasn't been done in the characters 80 year history. While King's run was originally set to end around issue 107, it's with this arc that he'll end his run. But don't worry he's segueing into BATMAN/CATWOMAN. King's run has always been a major topic of conversation, both good and bad. But I think it's easy to say that he has really left his mark on the character in such a way that no other writer has. I could write an entire piece on King's run, but I'll leave that for another day.
Ok let's jump into this issue
The issue opens up like your typical Batman comic, it's raining and a GCPD car is rushing to a crime scene. But wait... those aren't cops... it's Joker and Riddler? From the get go, it's clear that this is a far cry form the Gotham we're used to. King and Daniel waste no time, they want us to know that this ISN'T your typical issue of BATMAN.
I have to say I absolutely love the idea of Joker and Riddler being partners. It's something I never would have thought of, but is pure brilliance. The bigger question is, how could these two possibly get along? But we'll get to that later. They're investigating the crime scene of Harvey Dent/Two-Face for the Comissioner.Hold on.. if these two are now "cops", who could they possibly be referring to as "commissioner"? Why of course it's Hugo Strange. The story just becomes more and more of a twisted reality, almost as if it's an alternate Earth.
Eventually Strange lights the Bat-Signal and who answers the call? Thomas Wayne aka Flashpoint Batman. From here the story gets weird. We see "Batman" hunt down Two-Face with the assistance of his own "Robin" (Gotham Girl). He has a new replacement for Alfred, Arnold Wesker aka Scarface.
The brutality of this "Dark Knight" knows no ends. His take down of Two-Face is not one you would ever see the true Batman do.
By now you may be asking yourself, "Where's Bruce?". Don't worry he's on some remote mountain, and he's not in good shape. Tom King uses a parable of a farmer that lost his horse as a way, I'm guessing, to signify that Bruce has lost Gotham. As he's jumped by 2 thugs masquerading as monks, a mysterious figure comes to his aid. It's this person that is clearly here to help him "take back" Gotham.
Isn't this story called "City of Bane", you're probably wondering why I haven't mentioned him. Well that's because ewe don't even see him until the end. Its in the back story illustrated by Gerads, where we finally see this brilliant strategist and learn his true intentions. Remember how I said I'd tell you how it would be possible for Joker and Riddler to be partners, one name, Psycho Pirate. Bane is using him to control all of Gotham's villains. Bane is also presented with "The Offer" from Luthor, but instead counteroffers and shows his true dominance. This is a man that won't bend the knee.
This book never ceases to attract the best artists in the industry and this issue is a stellar example.It's always a treat when Tony Daniel illustrates a Batman comic and he's pulling out all the stops on this one. His Joker is creepy AF and the bleakness of the story is executed brilliantly though his art. He shows the difference between Thomas and Bruce's fighting styles brilliantly, while Bruce is more graceful, Thomas is kind of a lumbering brute. Gerads, while only a few pages, left his mark on this issue with that terrifying last page of Bane. Plus who doesn't love them some Gerads.
The ending of this issue only heightened my excitement for this arc. With a Gotham set to be closed off from the rest of the world, it will be interesting to see what lengths Batman will go to take it back. While I've heard mixed feelings about this issue, I can comfortably say that this might be the best arc yet. The perfect ending to this sprawling and epic dissection of the Dark Knight.