Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Long-time comics readers are used to the spectacle of characters being killed, only to be brought back a few years later. But what I find even less productive and more annoying than that, is a redemption arc for a major super-villain. (I added major there, since you might be able to get away with it with a smaller name, but even those get rolled back!) If Two-Face gets his face fixed, it's a safe bet that it'll be wrecked again soon enough. If Dr. Doom sees the error of his ways, you don't have to be a genius like Reed Richards to realize that's not going to stick. Even if the writer manages to sell it, it can be walked back no matter how well it's sewn up--which may be mixing a couple metaphors, so let's just hit today's issue: from 2004, Batman: Gotham Knights #49, "Veritas Liberat, chapter three of three: the Redeemer" Written by Scott Beatty, pencils by Charlie Adlard, inks by John Floyd.

Even though this says part three of three, I think this storyline had been running a little past that: Bane had been searching for both redemption and the identity of his father. A red herring had indicated Thomas Wayne might have been it; instead, Bane's dad was the blind villain King Snake. (King Snake was also created by Chuck Dixon, although I don't know if Dixon intended to connect the two.) King Snake was usually a bit more robust, and I thought he had a snake tattoo on his chest as well; but he's a bit malnourished here since he had been stuck on a mountain for some time. He had infiltrated Kobra, and currently working on taking over the remnants of that cult, or at least their giant robot. (Which wasn't even that giant, all things considered.)

Batman has a full crew in on this one, with Nightwing, Robin, and Batgirl. (The Cassandra one.) King Snake is a little pissed, especially since Robin had actually foiled him a couple of times already; but Bane had not betrayed Batman, and wanted to keep the robot's battery away from the Snake. Snake shoots Bane (no easy feat for a blind man, but he can hear just fine) but then falls into a chasm as Bane hits him with the battery and a Kobra goon tackles him in. Batman saves the mortally wounded Bane by putting him in a supposedly-depleted Lazarus Pit. Bane asks Batman to tell Leslie Thompson that Bane was gone, that he had found the truth and was better for it.

Of course, Bane's next appearance would be in Infinite Crisis #7, breaking Judomaster's back. No explanation for his return to villainy, other than "I finally know who I am. I am 'Bane'. I 'break' people."

This issue also features a Black & White story, "Fear is the Key" Written by Geoff Johns, pencils by Tommy Castillo, inks by Rodney Ramos. The Scarecrow murders some cops while lecturing about fear, and his own battle with pantophobia...here described as the "fear of fearlessness," when it's actually the fear of everything. A few quick checks online didn't find fear of fearlessness either, so you may have to give Johns that one. Maybe not though, since Lucy describes pantophobia correctly in A Charlie Brown Christmas, so I kind of have to figure Professor Crane would know better. Anyway, Johns portrays the Scarecrow as a junkie for fear, but he's so attenuated to even his fear toxins, that only Batman can give him that sweet, sweet fix.

This would be the last issue of Gotham Knights with the Black & White feature, the next issue would begin a Hush storyline. Yay...

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