Masks come off as Batman and Bane confront each other for the last time in the latest issue by Tom King. As Thomas Wayne makes way towards the fight, Mikel Janin stages a large fight sequence between the two, with the help of Catwoman.
Before the fight, Bane and Batman make an agreement to not use anything to assist themselves and fight fairly, unfortunately for Bane, Heroes don’t fight fair. Instead, King writes Batman in a villain perspective as the person cheating and using underhanded tactics. Typically, heroes always find a way to get out of difficult situations while the villains result to cheating, but not in Tom King’s universe.
As Batman gets the upper-hand to break Bane’s back, a homage to the classic scene of Bane breaking the Bat, Thomas shoots Bruce in the back and Bane in the head, and leaving Catwoman unconscious.
While King writes a large fight scene this issue, the decision to have Batman resort to underhanded tactics and have Wayne kill Bane was an unfortunate decision.
When you watch superhero films, you cheer on the heroes as they beat the odds and challenge adversity. In King’s story, we instead get a hero who must resort to cheating to beat the odds, rather than using their brain. When Batman hides two batarangs and lies about Catwoman getting involved in the fight, it felt like someone’s fantasy. I’m aware that King has used Catwoman as a large focus in the current run, but the crutch of relying on her and hidden weapons to beat Bane in a fight seems unlikely for the caped crusader. Batman as a hero is always depicted as the one with a plan, and a hero who can get out of anything with a trick up his sleeve.
Usually during fights, Batman reveals a new fighting move as well as finding a weakness in his enemy’s defenses to take advantage of. But in this story, Batman instead has to rely on others due to being unable to beat a villain alone. Seeing this happen compared to previous Batman series was disappointing to say the least. As a writer, Tom King should be able to come up with more ideas than resorting to make Batman cheat to win.
At the end of the issue, King writes Thomas Wayne coming to the fight to shoot Bane in the head and Batman in the back. I’m uncertain what this twist was created for, but it’s a disappointing resolution to the fight. Issue 82 focused heavily on watching Batman and Bane fight only to bring it to a close in a very anti-climatic way. If you were hoping that they could have a rematch it is also disappointing to note that it will never happen since King writes Bane off with a bullet to the head.
King’s current arc, while weak at times, was created upon Bane taking over Gotham. The issue even advertises: City of Bane. Instead it’s become: City of Wayne, since Bane is dead and Thomas Wayne shot Batman. I’m uncertain of what’s to come in the following issue, but I found the twist and change of character in Batman to be somewhat off-putting. I’m aware that Batman cheating looked cool in Tom King’s perspective, but to a reading and longtime fan was a letdown. Also, building up to a huge fight and never giving it a proper conclusion…that’s just poor execution.
While the overall story arc for this series is enjoyable, this issue is flawed by King’s desire to subvert expectations and kill off Bane while the Bat gets shot in the back.