Written by Tom King
Art by David Finch, Jordie Bellaire, John Workman
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: March 1, 2017
So…I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I got this aching, persistent pain in my back while I read this comic…
It’s impossible to ignore that iconic moment in Batman history whenever Bane is on a page, and this creative team uses Batman’s history with this behemoth to dial the intensity all the way to eleven in this comic. This Bane is a ruthless alternate reality of Bruce Wayne, a journey that started in parallel circumstances with a very different outcome, which King, Finch & Bellaire show brilliantly. The pacing of this issue is fabulous, as the team bounces between past and present to show the similarities and differences between Batman and Bane, with an absolutely brutal fight taking place in the present. The bouncing between time periods is executed flawlessly and this creative team did a phenomenal job of making me feel uncomfortable as all hell for the entirety of the issue.
Tom King’s writing is flawless. I could probably stop talking about the script there, but I won’t. His dialogue is impeccable, with Bane’s aggression hitting readers like a hammer. Workman’s lettering work is on point when the big guy loses his temper and that makes King’s words lash out at the reader, just as they are assaulting the Bat. With this issue, King has elevated Bane to the upper echelon of Bat-foes, even though he had never really been anything but a bruiser to me before. This guy is a threat unlike any other, his brutality as evident in his words as in his punches and I tell you what…I will never look at Bane the same way after this comic.
On the art front, this is one of the best comics David Finch has ever penciled. His style is so perfectly suited for this story, and Bane has never looked more menacing than when he’s laying into Batman on the rooftop. Bane has muscles growing out of his muscles, an imposing figure of rippling power and Finch captures his rage perfectly. The tension in the body language of these characters is enough to get the heart rate going and the way he telegraphs a return to that infamous back breaking scene is absolutely brilliant. When a comic can raise your blood pressure you know the art is having an impact on your brain, and that’s what we get with Batman #18.
Jordie Bellaire’s colours enhance the insanely tense mood, enriching Finch’s pencil work on every page. The mood her work invokes in the flashbacks is brilliant, furthering the divide between the paths of these two characters up to this point. She is an A-list colourist and that is easy to see in this issue.
Batman #18 is a fantastic read. It’s going to give you moments of panic and take you right back to that time you saw the Bat break, but by God it is worth the stress. The team ends this issue on a fantastic note and I can’t wait to see what is coming next in Bat vs. Bane.
The Verdict: 10/10