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After defeating the monster at the center of the dungeon, our brave heroes sail off into the sunset on a bubblegum boat and live happily ever after.  Oh…you think I’m kidding…

Spoiler

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I think that nicely sets the stage for what you’re in for.

For the last several weeks I’ve gone through a gamut of emotions over the current story arc, “I am Suicide”.  Anger, confusion, sadness, and bewilderment are but a few.  Through all of this, it’s the commenters that have kept me going with all their wonderful theories and hopeful explanations.  So…now is the time.  Time for King to amaze us with his grand plan.  Relinquish the twists.  Show us which characters were masquerading as others.  Show us hallucination gems and Psycho-Pirate mental manipulations that will explain away all the unrealistic hodgepodge this book has presented in almost every chapter.  Give us an answer regarding the Catwoman murders.  Show me the integral role that each team member had in the success of this mission.  Reveal to me how Arnold Wesker is the single most important key to success.  In short, give us the answers we seek.  Show me that I was wrong to doubt King in his infinite wisdom and that everything from this issue will cast a new understanding on the previous ones.  Showing me that there was always a master plan that I just couldn’t perceive.  Amaze me…

…or don’t…and let me bask in the sweetness of utter vindication.  That’s right!  Not a single thing listed above came to pass.  No answers.  No explanations.  No reason.  No coherency.  No relevance.

As I said, I’ve been getting by with all of your wonderful theories.  And to be honest, I could scroll through the comments and pick out any random theory you guys have been dishing out and I guarantee  it would be better than what King just gave us here.  Things have been so bad in this arc that we simply couldn’t take it at face-value and have been trying to justify it in any way we could.  There had to be something more to it.  Right?  But sadly, there isn’t.


The Necessity of the Team.

Batman works with teams, but he doesn’t typically assemble them.  In this instance, Batman hand-picked the individuals he needed for this specific mission.  Not the best team in the world, but the best for this mission.  Being the master tactician and strategist that Batman is, he already evaluated any potential threat and picked the individuals for his team accordingly.  In some cases, to fulfill roles that only the individual he picked could’ve carried out.  Or at least, that’s what would have made sense.

Arnold Wesker

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Throughout this entire story, Wesker has been touted as the most important member of the entire team.  Without Wesker’s presence, the entire mission was doomed to failure and every other member of the team would most likely die.  So…what happens?  Well, when Wesker confronts Psycho-Pirate, Pirate tries to use his powers on Wesker but it doesn’t work.  You see, nobody can control Wesker but Scarface.  I’m good with all of that, and I did enjoy Psycho-Pirates taunting, but this just doesn’t measure up.

When everything is said and done, Wesker/Scarface just decks-out Psycho-Pirate.  That’s what all this buildup has been leading to?  That was the most anticlimactic thing I’ve ever seen!  Anybody could have done that!  You don’t need to be able to resist Psycho-Pirates powers in order to be able to act.  Hank and Claire showed us that.  Even under the blanket of fear, Claire went out and fought during “Night of the Monster Men.”  If Pirate had made Batman afraid, Batman could have still just punched him out.  Or anyone else on the team could have punched him out while Pirate was concentrating on one target.  Heck, they could have shot him with a tranq dart from across the room before he even knew what was going on.  I’m not even sure they would need to act all that quickly though.  He goes on for 6 panels, completely unabated, before he even starts to use his powers.  That’s plenty of time for anybody to have taken him out.

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And let’s not forget this.  Apparently this was supposed to be some kind of clue.  Of what, I’m not sure.  Maybe that Pirate already had Wesker under his control.  I don’t know.  But nothing at all came from this.

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While I’m on the Ventriloquist/Scarface, I’d like to point out that they forgot to replace all the “B”s in his dialogue with “G”s.  That’s the way Scarface talks.  While that was overlooked(or intentionally changed), I did think the rest of his portrayal was pretty spot on.  Maybe the one shinning moment in an otherwise lackluster finale.

The story also takes care to set up an immense deal of tension.  All throughout the Bane and Batman fight, we keep getting single panel updates on what Tiger and Wesker are doing.  Tiger is rushing as fast as possible!  Wesker is just standing.  Which is infuriating because we think Batman needs him and he is just standing around.  It’s really done quite well.  It’s just a shame that it’s wasted.  Their timely arrival is ultimately irrelevant, right alongside the uselessness of their actions.

Catwoman

Nope.  We don’t get an explanation for the 237 murders.  But I’m not going to complain about that too much.  Batman #14 (due out 1/4/2017) is supposedly all about Batman and Catwoman.  So hopefully they address this loose end there.  If not, I’ll complain about it fully then.  At this point, the only thing we can say for certain is that Batman believes that she is innocent.  And while that is enough for me (cause when is Batman’s gut ever wrong), I’m still going to need an explanation at some point.  I mean, how’s he going to keep her out of jail?

So, what was Catwoman’s purpose on the team.  Several commenters brought up the fact that it’s not about what she brings to the team, but what the team brings to her.  Freedom.  Batman wanted her on the team so he could get her out of prison and work on clearing her name.  While that’s good and all, what happens now?  They are headed back to Gotham and Batman doesn’t have any evidence to exonerate her.  So what?  He’s just going to not turn her in for…reasons.  Another commenter pointed out that Catwoman betraying the team may have been part of a plan between her and Batman.  Since Batman couldn’t prove her innocence at this point in time, he needed her to be able to escape from him and have the other members of the team as witnesses so that Batman wouldn’t get in trouble for Catwoman getting away.  As much as all of that makes complete sense, none of it comes to transpire.

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Much like the anticlimactic moment with Wesker, all this build up and deception was in place just so she could simply kick Bane in the back.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  Why was that even necessary?  It’s not like they needed the element of surprise in order to take out Bane.  Seems to me Batman could have taken out Bane by himself, but he doesn’t even raise a finger against Bane.  To be honest, I’m pretty confused by Batman’s complete inactivity during the entire fight.  Instead of owning Bane like he rightly should, he just gets tossed around again like in issue #10.  Back then, it made sense since Batman was doing it because he wanted to be captured.  But why is he doing it now?  Maybe Batman is just tired after single-handedly defeating 150 armed guards.  I don’t know.  But if you’re telling me he was just playing possum to lure Bane into a false sense of security so that Catwoman could get the drop on him.  Well then, that’s just dumb.  When you consider that it was essentially going to be Batman, Catwoman, and Bronze Tiger vs a non-venom using Bane…I don’t think the element of surprise was even necessary.  Heck, Bronze Tiger alone was enough to take out Bane.

I also find it odd that during the Batman/Bane fight, Catwoman keeps asking Batman if now is the proper moment to strike.  And for some reason I can’t fathom, he keeps saying not yet.  Why?  Because they needed to fill 20 pages?

I’m also reminded of the fact that King was leading the audience to certain conclusions in previous issues by presenting false information.  When Catwoman betrays the team early on, Batman reacts by saying, “No.”  Well, nobody else was around to hear that.  And he knew it was part of the plan.  So, who was he saying that for?  Us.  There are ways to lead the audience without lying to them.  In retrospect, this seems really lazy.

Bronze Tiger

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Undoubtedly one of the most powerful members on the team.  But all he ends up being throughout the entire arc is nothing more than an escort.

Punch and Jewelee

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Puch and Jewelee were also superfluous to the rest of the story.  When we first met Punch, we were told that he was the only man to ever escape from Santa Prisca.  He was integral to the mission because he knew how to get in and out.  That sounded awesome to me.  That we would be getting a story of him leading the team through uncharted sections of the prison.  But did we get that?  No.  Now maybe this knowledge was used and we just never got to see it, but as far as I can tell, his past affiliation with the prison ended up being irrelevant to the outcome of the story.  I mean, several times we saw people just entering through the front door.  That’s hardly the kind of out-of-the-box thinking you’d expect Batman to need an insider for.  And at the end, they just blew a hole in the wall to get out.  Once again, doesn’t seem like Punch’s expertise was needed for that either.  I’ll give you that perhaps the route the team was taking through the sewers was his.  And that’s probably also how Batman was able to navigate the prison so effortlessly.  But that’s just me taking a stab in the dark as it’s never made clear.

You could say that they served to strengthen Bane’s perception of Catwoman’s betrayal.  But seeing as how I found that entire plot device utterly ridiculous, anything that is connected with it is likewise unnecessary in my mind.

But…they supplied the bubblegum boat that took the group to the Bat-sub.  Ok.  And why was that necessary?  Batman couldn’t have had the sub programmed to meet them at a preordained time? Or better yet, couldn’t he have just summoned it remotely using a device in the utility belt that oddly enough never got taken away from him.

I did however like the dialogue they exchanged.  They are in the middle of all this insanity, but they are so insane that it doesn’t even phase them and they just talk about the most mundane of things.  That was nice.

And finally…Batman 

He should get a slap on the wrist for coming up with such a mindbogglingly retarded plan.

I mean, this whole plot is like a Rube Goldberg Machine: a device that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion.

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You actually left someone conscious from last issue?

Besides, are we really supposed to be concerned about a couple of guys showing up when we know you can take out 50 guys at once with no problem?  Definitely destroys any sense of danger.

If I had to point to one Batman moment from this issue that I did actually like, it would probably be his closing remarks to Bane.  But I can’t tell if he was being genuine or taunting Bane.  I think you can read it either way and it works though.


Bane

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Sorry.  But after the last two weeks, I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole.


Am I nitpicking?  I don’t think so.  Nitpicking is when you go looking for things to complain about in an otherwise perfect story just to bring it down.  I didn’t have to go looking for any of this.  It hit me smack in the face.  It’s upfront and center on almost every page.  Maybe if I had only found one or two things to complain about it would be easier to ignore them.  But I’m assaulted with nonsense and leaps in logic at every single turn.  How anyone can read this arc and not find immense flaws is beyond me, especially when taking the finale into consideration.

I suppose the one consolation with this story is that Mikel Janin was still able to produce some outstandingly beautiful comic art.  At this point, I kind of see him as the magician’s assistant.  But instead of drawing your attention away from how the trick is done, he is here to make you forget how terrible the story is.

Spoiler

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  • Files you say?  These wouldn’t happen to be the files that Batman keeps on how to take out every member of the Justice League, would they?  If that is the case, isn’t this a story that’s already been done before?  Like, multiple times?  I guess if that is where they are going with this, then my enjoyment will ultimately boil down to how much original material they can add to an already somewhat overused premise.
  • Come on Alfred.  Whip out that double-barreled sawed-off shotgun of yours!

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  • I got a feeling that the Bat-Family is in for a world of hurt.

Interesting Facts:

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  • Look everybody!  It’s the Tumbler from the Christopher Nolan Trilogy!

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  • Totally read that with Julie Newmar’s voice in my head.

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  • Love that nod to their continuity.

Recommended if…

  • You unconditionally like Tom King…I guess.
  • Mikel Janin’s artwork is enough for you to overlook the stories other shortcomings.
  • Scarface!

Overall:

The entire plot is deliberately over-engineered to perform the simplest of tasks in the most overly complicated and outlandishly convoluted ways possible.  Are you one of the people who was expecting King to pull out some mind-blowing twist that will have us all rereading the previous issues with awe?  Did you want answers to all those earth-shattering questions that have been rumbling around in your head since issue #9?  Well, don’t get your hopes up on either front.  You’ll get no such conclusion here.   This arc has been, hands-down, the worst thing I have read this year.  And it will go down in my book as a blight on Batman history.  Look, I had some issues with some of Scott Snyder’s stuff, but I’d happily take my least favorite Scott Snyder story over what King is currently churning out.  I’ve got to wonder.  Is this some kind of dare?  Are the other writers at DC daring King to write the most inane things possible.  And that he keeps upping the ante to see just how much the fans are willing to take before they finally break-down and call him on all this nonsense.  Most likely not, but at this point, I’ll come up with anything in the hopes of entertaining myself since this book certainly isn’t doing the trick.

SCORE: 3.5 / 10