The Bane story arc that has dominated the last several issues is finally beginning to wear out its welcome. It felt like a subplot detached from the ongoing storylines we've seen so far, a lengthy, five-issue diversion from the various characters and plot points we've seen up to this point.
It's a matter of great timing, then, that just as soon as this Bane vs. Batman fight starts to grow old, writer Peter Tomasi throws some major curveballs into the mix.
First up is Poison Ivy. Batman is beat, but she appears on the scene and isn't about to let Bane destroy the Dark Knight once and for all. As usual, she is more concerned with the well-being of her plants than the safety of Batman, though why exactly she is saving him at all isn't fully explained.
In the end, it's actually a completely different character that saves Batman from the fray, only to toss him back in moments later. He's been missing-in-action for a while now, but the Arkham Knight returns to the pages of the Arkham Knight prequel comic for one of his most mysterious appearances yet.
We get a few glimpses into Arkham Knight's personality here in ways we haven't seen before. We now know he is a manipulative schemer, setting plans and then attempting to push Batman into them. We also know he isn't without honor. He saves Batman from the scuffle between Ivy and Bane and remarks that while he could kill Batman right now, it wouldn't be right, as Batman is unconscious from the knockout gas of Ivy's plants.
We also get to see a brief glimpse at Bane's upbringing at the start of this issue. Truth be told, it doesn't add much to the story, other than the idea that Bane had it extremely rough as a kid locked away in a prison and believed journeying to Gotham City to be his destiny. Unless a new point of emphasis is going to be placed on Bane's reasons for coming to Gotham, the opening pages seem like they could have been used elsewhere.
On the art side of the equation, Ig Guara is handling the book's art this week and it's not one of his best showings. Ivy's vines come off as rushed and blurry, and her face, along with Bane's, never looks quite right. That being said, this week's character moments and revelations do manage to make up for it. We've still got two issues left as part of this "Bane of Existence" story arc, so let's hope it can continue to bring some surprises.
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And be sure to check out our interview with Batman: Arkham Knight comic writer Peter Tomasi, where he talks about the process behind crafting the prequel story to Rocksteady's upcoming game.