“City of Bane” – Part Five
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Color Artist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Continuing the hot streak that this wonderful title is currently on, Batman #79 manages to maintain the highest of standards. Very much a companion piece to issue 78, the narrative takes us back to Bruce and Selina’s tropical bolthole, as their rejuvenation on a physical and mental plain nears its conclusion. It’s been hugely enjoyable taking a detour away from the mayhem and violence on offer in Gotham City to spend time in a reflective and enriching situation, getting to the heart of the two main characters and their complex relationship.
But, all things must and do come to an end, as the issue concludes with the clear message that “Bane is in trouble now” The extended healing process is over and these two flawed, yet strong individuals have bonded back together; physically, romantically and mentally.
The art of Clay Mann and the color work of Tomeu Morey is once again completely top drawer. I was of the opinion that it couldn’t get much better than the previous issue, but here they’ve somehow pulled it off. Sumptuous and attractive, the images truly leap off the page… and then some! What’s really effective is the way that the duo are depicted in iconic, striking poses when in full costume, but in softer, more relaxed posture when in their civilian attire. These are pages that demand repeat viewing, as to do so will reveal more each and every time.
Of particular note is the clear indication that Bruce is back near the top of his game. The ease with which he performs a one handed push-up with Selina on his back is testament to a man in peak physical condition. Clearly the rest and recuperation has done him the world of good! Giving the readers what they want, King finally lets us see Batman in full flight once again, effortlessly dispatching an assortment of stick up men and the motley crew serving as Magpie’s henchmen. Whilst the monsters waiting in Gotham City will provide much stronger opposition, this issue illustrates that they’re about to get more than they can handle.
One interesting tidbit in here is the revelation that Damian’s incursion into Gotham was done at Bruce’s behest, rather than just being an act of rebellion. How this fits into the inevitable master plan remains to be seen, but one thing the last 80 years have taught us is that Batman always has a plan, and that there’s always a method to the madness. What sits behind this particular plan of action is anybody’s guess.
More importantly, news of Alfred’s “demise” as a result of said plan, hasn’t filtered through to Bruce. Whilst I still believe that Tom King is playing with the readers here, meaning that Alfred hasn’t actually perished, the effect this will have on Bruce’s restored but delicate psyche will be fascinating to see.
I’m running out of superlatives to describe this title. Every two weeks, Tom King and his collaborators manage to ease that bar up even higher than before. The synergy of storytelling and imagery are working on a symbiotic level that would make Eddie Brock proud. I want, no, I NEED the next issue as soon as it becomes available, in order to satiate my addiction to this gripping tale.