Batman’s final contribution to villain’s month rests squarely on the venom fueled veins of Bane, and the level of violence and sheer mayhem he causes is what we have come to expect, but it’s still nonetheless shocking. Writer Peter Tomasi starts off the death count by Bane literally partially decapitating one of his minions when he invites him - hell - all of his followers to try and kill him. When the daughter of one of Bane’s soon-to-be victims catches Bane just prior to her father’s final breath the resulting reaction is both surprising and disturbing. Bane is looked at by some, not many, but some as an actual hero. Tomasi is relentless with Bane’s attacks and writes him as evil as he has ever been.
The bulk of this issue takes place during the Blackgate Penitentiary breakout orchestrated by Bane. Tomasi gives us a unique look into the mind of Warden Zorbatos as she struggles with futility against the prison uprising. For once we see a Gotham official clearly say and express how much it sucks to be in charge of such utter chaos. Bane instructs his team to use Scarecrow as a tool to spread fear and helplessness against such a hostile takeover.
Bane is like many of the Bat-villains in his desire for random chaos, confusing and fear to control not only Gotham but Batman, as well. It’s only vaguely alluded in the beginning that Batman is nowhere to be found in Gotham, and Bane uses that as a spark to ignite the fire. This issue will also lead directly into Forever Evil: Arkham War #1 and has the same feel as the Scarecrow’s villain title in Detective Comics #23.3 especially in the final panel as Bane overlooks Gotham.
Graham Nolan’s art is very solid, and he draws one menacing looking Bane with a newly oversized tank of venom now strapped to his back. Nothing really jumps off the page, but I like Nolan’s work as a whole and it serves the story well. Overall, Batman #23.4 is a good Bane story without having to rehash origins but still giving a nod to Bane’s upbringing and his escape from prison. It focuses directly on Bane’s role in the upcoming Arkham War, and it will be interesting as it parallels Scarecrow’s own story. Bane’s involvement in Forever Evil is poised to be more heavily entrenched with the main villains who want to run Gotham, and through this issue of Batman it’s poised to be epic.