Bane, one of Batman’s greatest villains gets a focus as the Arkham War begins. The 3D lenticular on Batman 23.4 boasts many layers which lead to a well present Bane bursting out of the cover. The reader feels as though he is grabbing you, giving you a hand into the ranks of his army.
Tomasi the brains behind the idea for the Arkham War offers us this filler issue. Batman #23.4 opens with Bane doing what he does best…killing. He decides to give himself a challenge and gives some henchmen Venom in what can only be described as a roid rage moment. He decides to fight his own henchmen making two things clear; Bane is unstable and you do not want to work for him. After the brutal dispatching of his henchmen, Bane prepares to board his ship planning to take control over Gotham using a fleet of fully armed warships. In Talon, Bane is approached by The Outsider and given an invitation to The Secret Society. As his travels begin we are given a look into the origins of this villain.
The story is told once again. Bane had to serve his father’s life sentence in a jail in Santa Prisca. We get to see a young Bane fight off some crabs in his jail cell, WHAT THE DUECE… he is in jail, not in an aquarium! Tomasi could have given us more of a threatening jail, maybe one filled with prison violence, suggestive sexual violence, shanking and prison riots. Instead, we are given a young condemned Bane fighting off crabs in his jail cell. Maybe on Earth-3 this can create a sinister powerhouse, but here I felt as though I was left wanting more.
This Bane just comes across as being a bit conflicted. He murders an abusive father for being abusive to his daughter, yet gives the child a backhand for appreciating his actions. He is almost like a warped version of the Dark Knight in this issue, he helps his people but kills them for following him. Maybe he just sees these people as pawns to the fulfilment of his plans. He likes being a champion of the people but he does not want to show them any form of emotion.
Another problem is that the timing of this issue is not consistent with the rest of Forever Evil. Technically, Bane should be amongst the crowd of villains as Ultraman gives his presentation (as the moon has already been placed in front of the sun at this point). So from a writing point this story is rather bland and a bit off. So many things are left untouched, such as Bane’s rise to power, his military training, his addiction to Venom and his hatred for Batman to name a few.
The art is nostalgic as Graham Nolan, one of the creators of Bane, steps up to pencil this issue. Bane is given that 90’s feel again, which is awesome! His mask seems more like a trademark again and he is given that muscular look that made him popular, even though he is wearing his new attire. From an artistic point this issue stands out, as you can feel the power and presence of Bane throughout the issue.
Compared to what could have been done, especially since Bane featured in The Dark Knight Rises, you cannot help but feel a little disappointed. You would think that Tomasi would put more effort into grafting the origins of this character but everything comes off as being mediocre. A dark read featuring the tortures of prison could have been so much better in contributing to the origin of a sinister Bane. Instead, this issue is more of filler that serves to introduce the Arkham War that features a weak origin and nothing more.