Warning: MASSIVE SPOILERS for Batman #82
After months of scheming and plotting, Batman has finally returned to Gotham to fight Bane to the death. It's the fight comic book fans have been waiting for, ever since Bane revealed himself to be the true cause of Bruce Wayne's problems since Rebirth. But fans were NOT prepared to see how this fight ends.
Knowing this "City of Bane" finale is what Tom King has been building to since Batman #1, it always was assumed to be something fans would talk about for years to come. But the twist delivered in the final pages of the issue is one nobody saw coming, and instantly changes the story King was telling all along. Bruce and Bane's fight to the death lived up to its name, but it's the role played by Thomas Wayne, the Flashpoint Batman, that just cemented his place among DC's greatest supervillains. And all it took was a handful of bullets. Needless to say, SPOILERS ahead.
Bane vs The Bat (and The Cat)
Having manipulated and broken Batman twice already, Bane's final fight against the superhero is easily the most honorable (relatively). King personally teased the Batman and Bane showdown, releasing panels depicting the two men removing their gadgets, armor, and equipment, before diving into bare-fisted combat. Of course, considering the cruel, malicious, and maniacal scheming Bane used to get the upper hand on Batman in the past... Bruce decides it's time to give the villain a taste of his own medicine. As Bane's fist is snagged by Catwoman's whip--launching accusations of deceit or dishonesty--Bruce reminds him Gotham was Selina's city, too.
The pair take turns slicing and hammering, before openly revisiting their argument before launching this plan, and how far-fetched it seemed to simply get Bane to remove his own venom distribution tubes and tanks by... asking him to. The result is that when Batman retrieves one of the Batarangs secretly taped to his back, and uses it to inject Bane with the deadly super-Venom he used to give Gotham Girl her powers, the villain's body can't take it. Hunched over in agony, Bruce says he doesn't plan to kill Bane, just 'break' him. Channeling the iconic back-breaking scenes that put him on the receiving end, Bruce raises the hulking villain over his head, before dropping him straight onto his--and that's when it happens.
Batman is Gunned Down By Thomas Wayne
The bullets tear through Bruce's midsection so quickly, readers will need a moment to recover. After allowing Bane to kill Alfred Pennyworth, and being ordered by Bane to murder his grandson, Thomas has decided to take his own path. Walking in to find Bane moments from being broken over Batman's knee in a glorious reversal of DC history, Thomas draws his handgun, and fires two shots through Bruce from behind.
While it's true Batman has survived worse injuries in the past, being shot through the back in the moment of triumph is presented as tragic as it sounds. Thomas has further plans for Bruce, suggesting his death isn't imminent, at any rate. And for all the strange family dynamics at play, it's entirely possible Thomas chose non-metal locations to incapacitate Bruce, and allow them to reach the true conclusion the elder Wayne has been planning all along. And for his ultimate goal, the Flashpoint Batman sure doesn't need Bane.
Flashpoint Batman Kills Bane (Quick)
If Batman being robbed of the chance to take vengeance on Bane is an unpleasant surprise, then Thomas Wayne's next action might be a bit more satisfying. Having interfered with this final contest, Bane mutters a confused "Thomas"--and is instantly silenced by Thomas putting a bullet through his head. In the process, making it perfectly clear that saving Bane wasn't part of his interference. Thomas is done with the games, and has come to take his son to the end of their story.
Bane is dead. Batman may be dying, and Thomas Wayne is finally getting to lead the story, as he secretly has been for who knows how long. What will Bruce's final story be with his Flashpoint father? Could Thomas truly end their tale on anything other than his own death, or exile? Those questions will hopefully be answered in the final issues of Tom King's Batman run before it ends in December. And with this new twist completely changing what fans should expect, all bets are off for where King's Batman/Catwoman series will pick up after the dust settles.
- BATMAN #82
- Written by: Tom King
- Art by: Mikel Janin
- Cover Art by: David Finch
- “City of Bane” part eight! Batman and his allies wage war on the City of Bane, but an unexpected turn of events will send everyone reeling. Will there be another death in the family, or can the Dark Knight break Bane’s iron grip over Gotham City?
Batman #82 is available now from your local comic book shop.