BATMAN #11 & #12

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[ FALLING FOR A SALE
In 2016, a bunch of nutters were sent to Santa Prisca by a man in a bat suit so they could beat-up a wrestling-rebel that smelt of fish. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire, Tom King, Mikel Janin, and DC Comics. It's December, 2016, and it's time for the Batman double review, A-Team style, bang-bang-bang-bang!

TO QUOTE Bill Maher: 'Suicide is man's way of telling God: You can't fire me, I quit'.

THE REVIEW:
Sometimes you can pick up a comic book and enjoy it despite nothing really happening. Take issue 11 of Batman for instance. In it, nothing that major happens, nothing except for the fact that certain key characters attempt to enter Bane's stronghold so they can confront him, face to face.

Now in the case of Catwoman and Arnold Wesker (AKA the Ventriloquist), they sneak into Bane's building care of Batman's machinations, doing so by crawling their way through its vast ventilation shafts. While in stark contrast to this, Ben, Punch, and Judy take a much more direct approach, entering through the front doors under the pretense of a union. And as for Batman, well, he's just there, waiting in the wings, biding his time until he can eventually strike.  

So yeah! That's about it really. Like a game of chess that's the general plot-line for issue 11, part 3 of 'I am Suicide', as it moves person X to place Y ready for action Z.

Well, I say that, but to compensate for its sparse nature the story is filled with character and character related insights you just can't get enough of. For instance, at the start of the book we are presented with a sequence where we see Batman chasing Catwoman over the rooftops of Gotham, obviously set in the recent past. From the looks of it Catwoman has killed a lot of people (Or has she? Let's see, eh?), and Batman has no other choice but to detain her and send her off to prison. Cut to the present day and we are then presented with a follow on scene where Batman informs Catwoman that she has to look after Arnold Wesker during their mission together, because if she doesn't, no one will be able to get out of Bane's stronghold alive.

Ouch! That all sounds pretty ominous, doesn't it? But in addition to this, it also gives this tale a tinge of suspense, a splatter of back-story, plus some much needed girth in a plot that's very hollow to say the least.

Another character driven aspect this issue excelled at was the way in which Punch and Judy continually got on Ben's nerves. While the three of them were waiting outside Bane's HQ, hoping to enter, Mikel Janin drew Ben in such a way that you could almost feel his frustration with every word they uttered (loved the nice costume update by the way). Now Punch and Judy weren't this annoying during the original John Ostrander Suicide Squad. But that said, they were annoying at times, bordering on the perverse.

As I'm on the subject of Mikel's art, something else about this book I have to applaud can be seen in that sublime sequence involving Catwoman and Arnold (see picture provided). Honestly, no word of a lie, Mikel's fluid illustrative style made that scene pop like a firework, especially when Catwoman asked Arnold about his puppet fetish, while the both of them flipped and flopped from pipe to pipe.

Funnily enough, this talk of Catwoman flopping now brings us quite nicely onto how this issue ends. So how can I put this? How can I explain to you that Catwoman -- yes, our Catwoman -- breaks ranks and swap sides without making it sound bad? I suppose I can't, can I? Yet that's what happens. Just at the exact moment issue 11 ends and issue 12 begins. Ta-Da!!!!

Issue 12, on the other hand, is a fairly different beast compared to its predecessor. Despite possessing a plot-line that's also moderately sparse in structure, the story in itself is primarily focused on Batman, instead of his team, and shows how he has to rush in to save his squad from Selina and Bane. This is then juxtaposed with a running commentary which takes the form of a letter he previously wrote to Catwoman -- just like she did in a previous episode. Essentially, he recounts a tale relating to how he coped with the death of his parents, while we visually see him punching and swinging his way from one scene to another. This is nothing new, I know. Yet it was done in such a way that it felt new, moderately speaking, taking into account that we've all seen this type of scenario played out many times before.

I personally thought Tom King wrote these sections in a style very similar to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade prose, all terse and fragmented, which directly managed to slow down Mikel's rapid and cinematic visuals due to their taught nature. I also liked reading what Batman said about his role as a caped crusader, acknowledging the fact that his costume and demeanor may appear very 'funny' on occasion, bizarrely-funny, yet does so while justifying it to himself on a personal level -- Namely, his parents, not their deaths, but rather the way they carried themselves as well as what they did when they were alive.

Now as I said before, my only real complaint with both of these chapters is that structurally not much happened in the plot, apart from the way each character was introduced to their confrontation with Bane. But to be honest, the one thing I thought was even more tiresome, was how Tom kept on hitting home that both Bruce and Selina are on some sort of death-wish, substantiating this claim because, well, they supposedly don't want to live, they want to die, die while saving people from themselves. To me, this aspect of their personalities has been explored many times before by many other writers, so seeing it regurgitated again here does feel pretty moot in retrospect. Not a bad-bad thing mind you. Just a, 'not again', sort of thing. Know what I mean?

On the whole parts 3 and 4 of 'I am Suicide' has helped shape this story-line into something great. Now it's not what I initially thought it was going to be, but what it is, is a great personal story juxtaposed on a Dirty-Dozen styled action-adventure.  Nice stuff.

THE MUSIC:
To a certain degree these two issues of Batman revolve around someone wanting to commit suicide. So with that said, how could I not musically match it up with the REM song, 'Everybody Hurts', which is basically about that specific subject?




THE COMPARISON:
In my review I stated that issue 11 had a plot-line that resembled a game of chess, what with the way each character moved themselves across Bane's prison like a pawn or castle across a chessboard. So guess what I'm going to do now? Yes. That's correct. This issue is a game of chess. You win. Ten points to the victor. Whoever he is?

THE CONCLUSION:
At the very end of issue 12 Batman confronts Bane. But out of curiosity, do you know how he confronts him? If not, take a guess out of the following eight options. So does he...

  1. Spit in his face.
  2. Ask him for his autograph.
  3. Insinuate that he's homosexual.
  4. Kneel at his feet.
  5. Slap him on his bald spot.
  6. Give him a Christmas present.
  7. Spoil how Rogue One ended.
  8. Unzip his Bat-Fly.
Nuff said.

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