This week in the pages of Bane: Conquest, Catwoman is coerced by Russian authorities to spy on a society of international thieves. Meanwhile, Bane and Dionysius form a bet that just so happens to involve the exact same organization….
Our story opens with Catwoman meeting up with a fence to discuss stolen goods. As it so happens, this particular meeting is phony, set up by Russian authorities as a trap to capture Catwoman. Once securely under lock and key, they offer her a deal. Plant a bug for them so they can spy on a band of international thieves.
I like the premise and setup this story starts with; it leaps straight into the action and has a very Tom Clancy/Robert Ludlum vibe going on. Having said that, there’s quite a bit of confusion on my part as to why Selina bothers to carry out the mission at all. Are they paying her, or is her freedom the payment? If her freedom is the payment, seems to me she would have just gone about her business after being released without fulfilling her end of the bargain. I mean, they don’t have any collateral to hold against her to make sure she completes the job. You know, like holding someone hostage, or seizing some of her assets and only giving them back when she completes the task.
Since those aren’t the case, they must be giving her something. So, if she is getting paid for her services, why the charade with capturing her? Why not just offer her a payment for her services from the very beginning. My assumption would be that this sort of job is the kind of thing she would typically turn down, payment or not, which is why The Russians had to capture her to get her to do the job to begin with. It simply seems to me that the evidence at hand contradicts any assumptions we might make about her situation.
Aside from the sense it makes for her to be doing any of this, there are plenty of little nitpicks that bugged me all throughout:
- Catwoman uses rappelling gear in the start of the story to descend what looks to be no more than 20 feet. Kind of excessive for such a small distance. Seems like something she could have easily used her whip to accomplish.
- When the guards confront her, Catwoman pulls out a telescoping baton…. Just like the rappelling gear, that doesn’t really seem like the kind of thing you expect Catwoman to pull out of her utility belt. Especially not when she has those handy claws right there on the ends of her gloves. I mean, what do you associate more with Catwoman, clawed gloves or a telescoping baton. I think you get my point.
- When we finally get to the place she is supposed to infiltrate, she sees Bane, and doesn’t recognize him. For real?!? I’m pretty sure Bane is someone Catwoman should be remotely familiar with, enough so that she would at least recognize him. I mean, are there really that many giant dudes running about with green tubing connected to the back of their heads?
- Then she trips the alarm system to call the guards down on Bane? Why? I just don’t get it. Seems to me that she is the kind of person that, after Bane destroys the place, would return to the Russians and simply tell them she planted the bug. They’d get upset, and she’d be like, “Hey, you wanted me to plant a bug. It’s planted. It’s not my fault the facility you wanted to spy on has been destroyed by a roided-out tank.” Essentially, this isn’t even something she wanted to do, so I can’t see her going above and beyond to get the job done. More like she would do the bare minimum out of spite.
Dionysius takes Bane to his secret base where there is a giant server that houses the world’s secrets. Eventually, the two start playing chess together. This, in turn, encourages the two to play a game on a more global scale. Dionysius proposes a challenge. His’ brains versus Bane’s brawn. Admittedly, Bane says that plans are equal parts intellect and blunt force, but I find it odd that Bane would so quickly discount the use of intellect alone. This is a man, after-all, that voraciously read anything he could get his hands on. A man that watched the news while sipping tea. A man that wanted to study his prey and learning about them before attacking. And ultimately, a man that used that knowledge to enact a plan that would make his opponent weak and frail before he ever even had to bring his brawn to bare. This is, absolutely, a man that values brain over brawn. To me, when Dionysius attempted to goad Bane with the whole talk of physical force versus intellect, Bane should have agreed that intellect is far superior. It never should have gotten to the point that it did. The idea that intellect is impotent without force is something, quite frankly, I don’t think Bane would have even said to begin with. In this instance, I can’t help but think that Dixon has forgotten about the very elements that he himself established within the character.
Unlike the Catwoman section of the story, there was much less in the Bane portion that I found minorly annoying. But it was, nevertheless, there.
- Why does Bane immediately jump to the assumption that Catwoman is there to stop him?
- Maybe it’s just the way I’m reading it, but I also get the impression that Bane doesn’t recognize Catwoman. I mean, if he knew who she was, he’d know she was definitely not part of the security force put in place to stop him.
Odds and Ends:
- When Dionysius brings up the whole idea of attacking established criminal empires, this map is behind him. Now, this is just my assumption, but I’m guessing the highlighted locations on it are the established criminal empires he is referring to. Bane, Trogg, and Bird all bring up locations like Russia, China, and South America. Places that all have established stereotypical mafia and criminally superior organizational structures in place. But that map behind Dionysius shows south west Michigan… Not really the kind of place I think of when I think about superior criminal empires. Hey, maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Maybe Kalamazoo, Michigan has the most superior criminal organization the world has ever know. If so, I apologize for deriding them. But yeah, that gave me a good laugh.
- You know, after 4 issues of this, I don’t really think I’d recommend Bane: Conquest to anyone, for any reason. Sorry. If you like it, that’s fine. I simply don’t think it’s worth your time and money.
So far, all of Dixon’s work on Bane: Conquest has been immensely plot heavy. While I’ll admit to having some difficulty adjusting to such shallow premises being the basis for an entire series, this particular issue is the first where I actually found the premise remotely intriguing. With this, my initial gripe with the series has been somewhat taken care of. Unfortunately, this problem has been replaced with a new one. Throughout this story, I feel that Dixon has had difficulty presenting valid character motivations for the actions that the characters take. Add to that the fact that Dixon seems to have forgotten about elements that he himself established within the character, and it just provides a very uneven read. And really, that breaks the story for me.
SCORE: 4.5 / 10