Monday, 21 September 2015

Batman #23.4 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 23.4, November 2013
It is incredible to believe that in September 2013 this so-called “DC Comics” Villains Month one-shot was the eighth best-selling comic according to “Diamond Comic Distributors” and somehow managed to shift an astonishing 95,298 copies. For whilst this twenty-page periodical features the notable artwork of Bane’s co-creator Graham Nolan, Peter J. Tomasi's storyline for “Dark Destiny” is bitterly disappointing, with the ‘Man Who Broke the Bat’ appearing as a sadistic brutal thug who lacks any of the “exceptional intelligence” he was originally imbued with.

In fact the publisher’s Senior Editor appears to go to some quite extraordinary lengths to depict his incarnation of Bane as little more than a savage unthinking cold-blooded killer. Even having the heavily-muscled supervillain strike a young girl and threaten to kill her after he has horrifically snapped the spinal cord of her father right in front of the pony-tailed kid’s eyes.

Admittedly any long-term followers of “Batman” will be aware of just how vicious a character the “hero” of the Caribbean Republic of Santa Prisca can be. But having endured yet another recap of the former Pena Duro prisoner’s rise to power, and subsequent defeat at the hands of Gotham City’s “otherworldly demon”, it is arguably entirely unnecessary to then have to watch as King Snake’s Venom-enhanced son mercilessly beats a bound captive to death with his bare hands simply to demonstrate just how tough he is; “Get the next one ready.”

Even more disappointing however has to be Tomasi’s so-called ending for this single-issue story as it actually insufferably concludes just as Bane has dispatched one of his men to murder the Scarecrow and the ruthless masked maniac reaches Gotham Harbour on board a container ship packed full of armed militants and tanks. Indeed it is very clear why this comic was heavily criticised at the time for being nothing more than “an extended prologue” for the forthcoming turf war series “Forever Evil: Arkham War”, as it simply finishes with Bane optimistically declaring that “Gotham City is mine!”

Possibly equally as disenchanted with the “Brightest Day” co-writer’s script, Graham Nolan’s illustrations lack any consistency whenever the American penciller strays too far from drawing one of the Dark Knight’s most formidable foes, and even then many of the panels lack sufficient detail to be especially pleasing to the eye. Certainly the work of Chuck Dixon’s frequent collaborator pales when compared to the stunningly impressive 3D motion cover by Guillem March.
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi, Artist: Graham Nolan, and Colorist: John Kalisz

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