Review: Batman #17

batman17coverIn Batman #17, Batman continues to do everything in his power to keep his supporting cast from the coming onslaught of Bane, who is joined by his old crew from “Knightfall” and wants to spring Psycho Pirate out of Arkham. Writer Tom King dedicates this issue to Batman the obsessive strategist as he puts Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Damian Wayne in special containment cells in the Fortress of Solitude while Psycho Pirate is in the secure wing of Arkham. He’s not just playing cards or reading long Russian novels, but giving Gotham Girl a form of shock therapy while Alfred holds a gun to his temple. King and artists David Finch, Danny Miki, and Jordie Bellaire continue to go dark in their treatment of Batman and Bane, but there’s still time for Alfred to make Shakespeare jokes and to name every alley in Gotham after a former Bat-writer and artist.

David Finch’s storytelling has reached a nice peak in Batman and keeping inker Danny Miki from Scott Snyder and Capullo’s Batman run is a big reason why. Finch still gets to indulge his superhero pin-up side with a big flowing cape double page splash, but his detail levels are still high in smaller panels like the opening sequence where Bronze Tiger gets nabbed by Bane. The banter of sports pundits as they talk about the Gotham Knights’ latest, terrible trade (Think the DC Comics version of the L.A. Rams giving away their future for the mediocre QB Jared Goff.) makes it seem like a slow start to the comic while one of the DC Universe’s greatest martial artists is taken down far too easily.

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No one can stop Bane, and Finch draws him bigger than ever when he pops in later in the book all in red. Finch’s panel layouts have been one of the more interesting parts of his run on Batman, and issue 17 is no exception with an Assassin’s Creed-inspired aerial move from Duke Thomas in bright yellow. But even cool video game moves are no match for Bane and his eccentric crew and their pet bird of prey.

As a plotter, Tom King is part chessmaster, part clownish juggler desperately trying to keep a dozen balls in the air while dancing the jig that are Batman’s relationships in the comic. And the metaphorical balls remain airborne in Batman #17 thanks to a series of jerking moments where Batman’s allies Bronze Tiger, Jim Gordon, Duke Thomas, and Catwoman get taken out by Bane and his goons. Maybe, they should’ve stayed in the Fortress of Solitude with the former/current Robins. These scenes, which feel like shocks of sudden violence, show that maybe there is a method to Batman’s pretty controlling idea of keeping his allies off the table as now he has to rescue his friends and save Gotham from a red firework wielding Bane. Bellaire uses this flashing red color for him, and in the space of a splash page, he’s back to his “Knightfall” levels of fearsomeness.

Batman #17 is technically another “setup” issue to the inevitable mano a mano rematch between Batman and Bane. However,Tom King, David Finch, Danny Miki, and Jordie Bellaire makes their upcoming battle even more frightening as some of Batman’s best allies are taken off the board in a swift way reminiscent of Bane unleashing the Dark Knight’s rogue’s gallery in “Knightfall” before breaking his back when he was utterly broken down. Bane and King both play the long game, and the next issue should be filled with big moves to competent for the utter catastrophe that is Batman’s supporting cast in this issue.

Story: Tom King Pencils: David Finch Inks: Danny Miki Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review