Taking place shortly after the events of Talon #11, this prelude to “Arkham War” paints a picture of Bane as a hero and savior to the people of Santa Prisca, and it doesn’t really make much sense. Also, crabs.
As a huge fan of Peter Tomasi’s work on Pre-New 52 Nightwing and Green Lantern Corps, as well as his fantastic New 52 run of Batman and Robin, this was easily one of my most anticipated books this week. That coupled with artist Graham Nolan, and this book should have topped my list of “Best Villains Month Issues”.
Bane was last seen in the pages of Talon gathering his army in preparation to invade Gotham City when the mysterious Outsider (whose shocking identity was revealed in Justice League #23) approached him about joining the Society. Although this issue follows shortly after the events of Talon #11, Tomasi keeps it new reader friendly and treads much of the same ground as Talon. This works well for new readers but those who keep up with Talon will find much of this issue redundant.
Bane #1 starts us off with several pages of bone crushing and face destroying action drawn by Graham Nolan. The co-creator of Bane, best known for his art in “Knightfall” and several other of Bane’s most notable appearances, returns to once again draw the Man who Broke the Bat. His art was the highlight of this issue and it was nearly impossible to not feel a little nostalgic while reading it.
Much of issue treads similar ground as Bane once again gathers his forces and once more boards his ships to invade Gotham, but this time with more speeches and unneeded aggressiveness. It was packed full with exposition as Bane relished every opportunity he had to make a speech of some sort. This wasn’t a problem though as Tomasi’s dialogue is always a pleasure to read even if it was too grandiose at times.
Tomasi touches upon Bane’s origin again, reaffirming the prison folk hero/revolutionary history that James Tynion has helped define for Bane in Talon. To the people of Santa Prisca, Bane is a hero, he is their savior. The son of a freedom fighter who served his father’s sentence in Pena Dura, Bane rose up and took control of his home with an iron fist, freeing the people of the oppressive regime that had plagued Santa Prisca and giving them a cause to follow.
There’s a panel that shows Bane in Pena Dura as a child and for some reason he’s fighting several crabs. I didn’t know why it was there or what purpose it served at first until I realized; who hasn’t wanted to see a young Bane fight crabs?
The biggest problem with this issue has actually been a common one that many Villains Month issues have had: they’re almost all retellings of the origin stories of villains. While this is good for new readers who are still learning about the characters, the longtime readers get the short end of the stick as DC has put every ongoing story on hold for an entire month and filled that month with…well, filler. DC has to find a middle ground of making their books and world accessible to new readers without alienating their longtime fans.
The second biggest problem was that the events here don’t match with the timeline set by Forever Evil. Certain events are out of order and it it’ll make you scratch your head for a moment. It was a pretty egregious mistake and I’m surprised no one managed to catch it.
There were several pages where Bane was unnecessarily aggressive for seemingly no reason, and the Savior of the People metaphor was taken a bit too literally at the end.
Bane #1 simply spent too much time retreading things. Tomasi’s writing was strong and Nolan’s art was a treat, but it felt like something you’d already read before, because most of it you already had. This was definitely an enjoyable. If you’re new to DC or haven’t been keeping up with Bane’s appearances in Talon I’d strongly recommend picking this up. If you’re a longtime fan, however, I’d suggest giving it a read if you can.