Top critical review
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on 8 April 2012
This second book in the trilogy takes a long time to say some very basic things: Bruce Wayne is in a wheelchair recovering, Jean Paul Valley is the new Batman and is dispensing a rougher sort of justice than the usual Batman, and that's it. Robin is still wringing his hands like a worried housewife, while Bane having "taken Gotham" does nothing more than sit in his... flat is it? Talking about how he's controlling all the crime in Gotham and all the money he's going to make.
Having read the origin story of Bane (reprinted in "Batman vs Bane" by Chuck Dixon) I thought the character was motivated for higher reasons than money but it seems Doug Moench got lazy and decided to make the motive behind Bane nothing more than tedious money. He's also far too reliant on Venom to make him succeed, I thought he was a criminal genius but all thinking seems to escape him when he fights, making him nothing more than a `roid-ed out thug. Disappointing.
Jean Paul Valley meanwhile does do some un-Batman like things like value innocent life less while modifying the outfit so it looks scarier with claws and outer-armour but he still wasn't a bad Batman. In fact he does something Bruce Wayne couldn't do in the last book.
There is a lot of filler in this book. There's a two-part Two Face story that had no bearing on this book and an extra-long Scarecrow story that also is irrelevant here. The Two Face story only underlines Bruce Wayne's tiredness (it's hinted at depression in this book too strangely), which had been done to death in the first book, while the Scarecrow story is a pointless ramble and seeks to reinforce the "Jean Paul Valley is a more ruthless Batman" message that we get throughout the book anyway (thanks to an increasingly annoying Robin/Tim Drake).
So, stuff happens in this book but nothing that couldn't have been done in 100 pages or less, instead of the 280 pages here. Bane turns out to be a disappointing victor not doing much, Bruce Wayne does nothing more than sit in the wheelchair, Robin is irritating, and Jean Paul Valley sets out to kick butt. The last 25 pages were good, read this if you want to save time, but that doesn't make up for the overall feeling of padding that this mediocre book provides to make this series a trilogy.