It’s obvious that writer Tom King is fascinated with the symmetry uniting Batman and many of his enemies. That symmetry has been a driving force of pretty much every story arc on this series, whether the focus has been on Gotham and Gotham Girl or Catwoman or, as in this issue, Bane. There’s a lot of mileage to be had in exploring the parallel lives of Bruce Wayne and the boy who became Bane, and this issue capitalizes on that potential nicely.
After two chapters that treated Bane as a lurking, largely unseen threat, the kid gloves come off in issue #18. King and artist David Finch deliver a brutal showdown between the Dark Knight and his enraged enemy. This isn’t the first time Finch has drawn a Batman/Bane face-off in recent years (the previous one happening in the pages of Batman: The Dark Knight). But this one really showcases Finch at the top of his game in a way the previous story didn’t. His pages are crammed with detail, as Finch renders every cord of muscle fiber in Bane’s massive arms and every shadow and crevice of the Gotham City environment. It’s worth noting also how much more imposing Bane seems now that his character design has abandoned the grotesque Dark Knight Rises/Arkham Asylum mashup approach that had been the norm in recent years. This Bane is far sleeker and deadlier.