Batman: I Am Suicide Review and Story Recap By Deffinition
After the average I Am Gotham and dismal Night Of The Monster Men, Tom King has done little to impress me. Feeling like Scott Snyder light, his work lacked the impact that his predecessor was famous for. In his third arc ‘I Am Suicide’, King reintroduces Bane, marking the villains first appearance in the Rebirth universe.
This book has the potential to turn it all round or confirm the writer as a lacklustre one.
I’m really interested to see if King can pick up the pace and deliver on his potential or if this will be another middling showing.
With that out the way let’s get into Batman: I Am Suicide.
Opening on Bane as a child, we see the struggle that he had to go through every day locked in the Santa Prisca well. Filling with water every night it transformed him into a beast of a man. Similar to his origin story in Batman: Vengeance Of Bane, the tale really gets you invested in the character and it’s hard not to admire how rough he had it. He shares a kinship with Batman, the two had their childhood torn from them and it’s exquisite to see this highlighted in the subtext, pitting then against one another.
Taunting him throughout the storyline I absolutely love the depiction of the famous foe and this marks one of his best appearances in the Batman lore thus far.
The New Suicide Squad
Accepting Amanda Waller’s mission to capture Psycho Pirate, we join Batman in Arkham Asylum. Selecting a new Suicide Squad made up of Catwoman, Bronze Tiger, The Ventriloquist (minus Scarface) and Punch and Judy, he sets out on his mission.
Feeling slightly like the B-Team it’s evident that the companionship could’ve been made up of slightly more established names to really reel readers in. Whilst King should be commended for his abstract choices, the team becomes slightly harder to invest in because of it. Few really get their moment in the spotlight and bar Catwoman and Ventriloquist, the appearance of most is redundant.
Luckily Mikel Janin’s artwork is better than its ever been. Presenting labyrinth-like structures his work leaps from the page in astonishing ways. Each panel feels like an impressionist painting and is up there as some of the best ever. The structure and composition of each image adding a complexity and realism to the world around The Dark Knight. This really is his best work and it’s worth picking up the book just to see how graceful he is artistically.
‘I will break your damn back’
A peculiar aspect within the work is as Batman attacks Santa Prisca, he constantly repeats the phrase ‘Bane, I will break your damn back.’ This gets to the point of nausea. Becoming slightly laughable due to its constant repetition I found myself being taken out of the plot and just questioning why Batman was now in a robotic stance. In his 75 year history, not once has the Caped Crusader been in this trance-like state and it makes the work questionable. Whilst it does eventually pay off it ended up distracting me from what was going on overall.
Which is a shame as there are some big moments here.
‘You won’t last the night’
Batman is captured, beaten by Bane and thrown into the pit that concealed the villain as a child to see if he can manage the same hardship. We even get a moment in which Bane cracks Bruce’s back almost crippling him, however, it lacks the impact that the motif had in the original Knightfall work. This is disappointing as with the right flair of colour or panel pacing, this moment could have leapt from the page, instead, it is just an occurrence.
Perhaps I am being overly critical though. This was the only low point of the book and watching Batman escape from the pit is endearing. It allows the character to cement himself as better than his counterpart. Doing more good than bad the early chapters had me invested, wanting to watch how this scenario would play out which is a credit to King and Janin’s work.
Cat And The Bat
In the subplot of the graphic novel we learn why Catwoman was in Arkham in the first place. Allegedly murdering 237 people (that may be a reference to Room 237 from The Shining, though I have no idea why), the Bat had to take her in. Wrestling with the morality of handing the one he loves over to the authorities it really adds a complexity to their relationship. One that comes to fruition when Catwoman betrays The Dark Knight, giving him up to Bane.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and whilst it is a ruse, it certainly pulled the wool over my eyes. Tricking me into thinking that this would finally be the end of their relationship. Which King should be commended for.
Racing through the prison, Janin really puts his foot to the floor with the artwork. In what is one of my favourite scenes in Batman’s comic book history, The Dark Knight races to take Bane head on.
Set to the backdrop of a letter from Catwoman, the issue breaks the fourth wall, analysing Batman as a concept. It states how it’s laughable that someone dresses up as a bat and still manages to scare criminals. King addresses all of the faults of Batman in a spectacular and sombre fashion and it made me understand the writer in a way that I hadn’t before.
Tackling mountains of men he eventually reaches his goal and the team come together to take Bane down once and for all.
I love how Batman ends by telling Bane that he could come after him but it would be a mistake. Bane could remain happy if he just swallowed his pride and forgot about this blip in their history. It’s an excellent warning that whilst challenging, is also demeaning.
We all know Bane won’t sit idly by, he will seek revenge, but it allows the story to end on a brilliant note and cemented this book at the forefront of King’s work.
By far the best work in King’s repertoire, Batman: I Am Suicide is King’s first real classic. Featuring stellar artwork and a lightning-fast pace, the work is a unique Batman story that highlights similarities between the protagonist and antagonist, building towards an epic showdown.
The work isn’t perfect but the few faults it has can be overlooked (even if I did over analyse them slightly…hey it’s my job). I Am Suicide was a joy to read and I can’t wait to dive back into the work and relive this awesome epic.
King, you are now the King (terrible pun I’m sorry).
That’s why this gets a…