This time in Bane: Conquest…Bane falls asleep!
Issue #7 also continues the tale of Bane and the Serpent, picking up right where we left off in issue #6 with an overblown action scene that swings wildly between the ridiculous and the dramatic. Bullets fly, daring escapes are attempted, Bane shouts in Spanish and a Kobra foot soldier coins a new exclamation (‘By the Adder’s eye!’ which I will try to slip into conversation as often as possible this week). The result of the skirmish isn’t a huge surprise but I’ll put it in a spoiler tag anyway.
Naja Naja slips over and dies. Bane is understandably annoyed because he’s succeeded by accident (I felt a little robbed too). Dionysius is jubilant (see above), which begs two questions: 1. If they wanted Naja Naja dead, why try and kidnap him? Just assassinating him from a distance would have saved them a lot of trouble. 2. How does Dionysius have Naja Naja’s electrocardiogram up on a screen? Did Bane hook him up to a machine the moment he grabbed him from the pier in Dubai?
As the cover tells you, when the initial fight is over, Bane’s next mission is to track down a child born with a snake birthmark. We’re told that Kobra has a mystical technique for finding this child but then they use a smartphone to locate him instead, which makes a mockery of the cult we’re supposed to be fearing. Meanwhile, Bane’s gang entrust the same task to Dionysius’ algorithm which gives them three possible locations: India, Australia and Mexico. The map behind Dionysius is meant to show this but for some reason, the centre circle is around Saudi Arabia and Iran. This isn’t the first time the maps have been incorrect (see https://batman-news.com/2017/08/02/bane-conquest-4-review/). Unfortunately, this is the kind of workmanship we’ve come to expect from this series by this point. Midway through the hunt for the child, Bane takes a break to beat up a guy in a meat locker and no explanation is given at all. Is it asking too much for this series to make sense?
After the child is found, the book returns to it’s usual groove and the fighting resumes (this time, featuring Frisbee grenades). So after 20 pages, we’re back where we started: Bane under fire from Kobra henchmen as he tries to kidnap their leader. Some writers sacrifice plot for world-building or delving deep into their characters while other writers force their characters to fit into the plot they’ve envisioned. As we’ve established, the plot isn’t going anywhere and unfortunately I don’t feel like the characters are progressing either.
I’ve always loved the idea of writers fleshing out the henchmen in comics as it makes the world our characters live in more believable (not everyone can be a superhero or supervillain). So when Bird, Trogg and Zombie were introduced alongside Bane in 1993, a golden opportunity was granted to every writer who tackled Peña Duro’s prodigal son afterwards. Unfortunately, Bane’s gang haven’t been utilised all that often since then and now that Dixon and Nolan are making use of their creations, they’re not imbuing them with a whole lot of character. Bird is the closest to escaping the role of one-dimensional henchman thanks to his cheerful outlook and quipping but that’s not enough. As I mentioned in my review for issue #6, Bane’s motivation in this series is questionable but at least he’s otherwise presented as the fearsome, serious and driven man we recognise from better stories. In fact, every time I read an issue of Bane: Conquest, my affection for the character is reignited and it makes me want to revisit better Bane stories like ‘Knightfall’ or ‘Vengeance of Bane.’
Nolan’s art matches the standard he’s set throughout the series; there are the usual badass shots of Bane gritting his teeth, swinging his fists and firing big guns which have a reasonable amount of detail and are shaded and coloured in such a way that you can always tell where the light source is coming from. It’s always clear when Nolan is enjoying himself; the action flows and you can usually see every hair and wrinkle on Dionysius’ head. These examples are typically mixed in with much blurrier work (which this time includes an embarrassingly puerile portrayal of a woman swimming naked) where the details are so sparse I feel like I’ve removed my glasses. Still, he does draw Bane in a trench coat, which I haven’t seen for a while. I don’t think any previous version made him look quite so much like a flasher, though.
- You’ve enjoyed Bane: Conquest so far.
- You value characters reaching the end of a story exactly the same as they were when it started.
- You like it when stories don’t make sense but do have explosions.
Overall: Issue #7 is a fast, action-packed read. You can zip through it in front of the television or as you’re about to fall asleep and you won’t really have missed anything. For that matter, you can probably leave the book on the shelf in the shop and you won’t have missed anything. Bane is still unmistakably Bane but he’s lost in this repetitive milieu which robs all the players of their complexity and offers the reader little intrigue for the coming issues.