Artist: Graham Nolan
This was an issue that I was slightly excited about, but dreading following the disappointing Scarecrow issue last week. Bane has been one of the villains that I've enjoyed most over the years as although he's not always been used properly, when he is he's a huge threat to anyone in his way.
With Batman gone Bane makes plans to return to Gotham City and take the city as his own.
This was a good issue, and although I enjoyed it, it was far from perfect. Peter J. Tomasi once again did a great job of setting up the upcoming Forever Evil: Arkham War series in this issue, though it wasn't much more than set-up. I did however prefer this to the other set-up to Arkham War in the Scarecrow issue, as this managed to have much more excitement to it, as well as having more depth. I did however feel that the issue didn't show Bane at his best, as although most of his characteristics were spot on he didn't seem as driven as he normally is. I do however have a lot of hope for the upcoming Arkham War series, as although both set-up issues haven't been brilliant, they have shown a lot of promise.
I was in two minds about the artwork in this issue as although I overall enjoyed it I felt that Graham Nolan didn't do as good a job on Bane as he has in the past. Now I'll talk about the good stuff first as the layout to Nolan's artwork was amazing, being very dynamic and impactful. I also felt that it was very well detailed throughout, and that although it had quite a few plain backgrounds it managed to work well with the tone of the issue. I would however have preferred Bane to have been bigger, as although Nolan did a good job of showing his sheer power, I would have rather him been the huge foe that I loved through Knightfall. In saying that there probably was no need for him to be bigger in this story, and overall Nolan did a fantastic job.
This issue would quickly make it clear that Bane wants Gotham for himself now that Batman is no longer around. Now this is an interesting development, and given the fact that Scarecrow plans on taking Gotham for himself as well it has made the perfect set-up scenario for the upcoming Arkham War series. I did however feel that the issue spent too much time on this, not allowing us to see the best side of Bane. Bane did however manage to give some atmosphere to this issue, just not as much as I hoped he would.
This issue would also briefly run through Bane's origins, showing how he grew up in one of the worst prisons on the planet, Peña Dura, and how he got the venom that drives him. This quick summary of his origin was a nice touch as it allows people who want to know his origin the chance to see it, whilst also not clogging the issue up for people who know it well. I personally however would have rather seen a bit more of this in the issue, as given how the issue went it would have added more excitement to it.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Scarecrow Villains Month issue would state that Bane would go to Blackgate Penitentiary to get an army, so when I started this issue I was surprised that he was still in Peña Dura. The issue does however have Blackgate involved, though I would have liked them to have had a bigger role, and for Bane to have actually been there himself. It did however also add to the set-up, as although I complained about this and the Scarecrow issue being too much set-up this should mean that Arkham War has no excuse to excel.
This was an enjoyable issue but nothing special, having a little too much set-up work for the upcoming Arkham War series. It did however have some excitement as well as a lot of depth, but it didn't really do Bane justice, quickly summarising his origin, and not showing him in much action. Due to this I'd only recommend this to anyone who's either that big of a Bane fan that they can't miss it, anyone who's considering getting Arkham War, or anyone who has spare cash and is looking for something half decent to read.