I revisited the “I Am Bane” arc from a couple years back. The whole story is one of the better Bane tales I’ve read, possibly better than the inaugural Knightfall epic, but it’s this particular issue that I love the most.
The thing I love about this book is that it’s straight to the point, gives us all the juice, and enough clever story-telling to make you feel satisfied and thought-provoked. In the midst of Bane’s pursuit of the Psycho-Pirate and all the collateral therein, he and Batman have their first initial encounter during the story at the front steps of Arkham Asylum. That’s the meat and potatoes of the issue, and it’s great. If there’s one thing I require from Bane it’s that he has a good old-fashioned, hand-to-hand clash with the Dark Knight, and they really deliver a good one here; David Finch’s art being no small part in its glory.
While Tom King unleashes Finch during the fight, he has his own King-esque fun in drawing the reflections between Batman and Bane by recounting their history – from the deaths of their parents up until just before they first met years before. I eat this stuff right up. The way King splices up Batman with his rogues is awe-inspiring, and this one is no exception. There are so many direct reflections, but it’s in the subtle differences that the characters really shine and cement them in their stances for good and evil.
It’s seriously a great character piece. I’m nuts for Bane and it was this arc, perhaps this very issue that satisfied me unlike most comic books. Back when I was collecting Batman it was this story that caused me to take it off my pull, because one of the things I’d been waiting for finally happened and my hype piqued, but rather than be spoiled or ruin it, I took my leave…. right before the Catwoman engagement, like a fraggin’ idiot.
Say what you will about Tom King’s run, but this arc, this very issue, is one of the best I’ve read and still stands strong a couple years on.
TL;DR Score: It’s pretty neat to see what is essentially the flip side of Knightfall, where Bane is facing the gauntlet and Batman is the mastermind.