Batman #18 is a great example of why Tom King is an amazing storyteller. Through 18 issues he has been able lay out this amazing path for fans to follow all leading up to this confrontation with Bane. There is a very clear understanding of why Batman is going to extreme measures to protect his family as well as the criminal Psycho Pirate, and also why Bane is after the Pirate as well. Not only has that King has continued to highlight the importance of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship and it becomes very important in this issue.
Just a brief overview, throughout the book King takes us into both Batman’s and Bane’s past from the moment their mother died until they learned about each other. Showing us the parallels and differences that made them the men they are today. Overall conveying that they aren’t so different and that it was more a matter or circumstances (one was raised in a mansion while the other a prison). While we see this we are also treated to some amazing visuals by David Finch of the massive Bane taking on Batman, all while getting an idea of how much Bane really knows Batman. He goes on to tell him that he his unlike his other foes, belittling them in the process. Although beaten and bloodied, Batman refuses to give up the Psycho Pirate to Bane even though we know that he has hostages. But as it turns out Batman had planned for this all along, having already prepped Catwoman to be able to escape. The issue end with Batman on the steps of Arkham taunting Bane and leading him inside for what no doubt will be an intense confrontation.
This by far has to be my favorite issue of the Tom King’s run. We learn so much about the relationship between the two characters, especially about how confident they are about going up against each other. With the side by side back stories of the two I clearly understood why Batman would not want anyone else going up against Bane as they would stand no chance against someone with that type of background and drive. Also King continues to display all of Batman’s abilities as a strategist given prep time. Using Bane’s rage as a distraction he is able to free the hostages and lure Bane into what is no doubt going to be a trap. I cannot wait until issue 19 to see what Batman has in store for Bane and how he reacts. King’s great writing is complimented by David Finch’s amazing artwork which featured inking by Danny Miki and colors by Jordie Bellaire. Together they come together to put together one of my favorite issues of Batman since the Rebirth launch. Although I will say that with an issue like this the bar for issue 19 (for me at least) has been set pretty high, so I am expecting another amazing issue next month. Until then do yourself a favor and make sure to pick up issue #18 of Batman.