Azrael vs. Bane: round two, Pt. 2Posted: 09/19/2014
As we left off last time, Bane filled up Azrael with a injection full of venom, the insanely addictive strength-increasing serum. And now Azrael has to go through some major withdrawal. Note: we ended on a ship crash, but I’m jumping ahead a good dozen pages. What you’ll miss: Azrael dramatically climbs a cliff wall, loses again to Bane and Bane’s soldiers, gets captured by Bane, becomes trapped in a cage, tricks Bane, and jumps over the cliff. It’s all exciting stuff you’re not going to see. Anyway, we pick up after that:
Know that in the first page, it’s made clear that Azrael pooped his costume. And while I’m no expert on addiction, my only vices being attention and adoration from others, I imagine a hot tropical island in South America with no modern amenities or anything to ease the trauma probably isn’t the best place to beat the drug. Also, and far more importantly, those list of venom withdrawal symptoms? That’s Batman talking to Alfred about that, which means Batman also pooped his suit. Don’t ever forget that.
But superheroes are our betters, so of course Azrael’ll rise triumphant. We expect nothing less.
After losing two physical confrontations against Bane in the past four issues, it’s time for our hero to adjust his tactics. I’m mean, it’ll still involve punching Bane a whole bunch, but now we get an added dose of psychology thrown into a fight where fiery golem claw hands aren’t enough to overcome Bane’s sheer power. Spoiler alert: it involves lying.
Azrael’s acting isn’t exactly Shakespearean quality, but why wouldn’t his gambit work the way it did? Bane’s weakness stems from his former reliance on venom, and without it, he’s physically weaker than when he fought Azrael’s Mecha-Batman suit. Though it should be known that Bane still massively overpowers Azrael. Any character in comic books who goes in combat without wearing a shirt is someone who’s pretty confident he (or she?) will splatter your butt across whatever tropical island/city block/space station/Microverse landscape you’re fighting in.
That one line “He rose up like some primordial sea-beast” gets me every time. I’m not addicted to venom, but I would definitely poop my costume if I saw Bane rise up unharmed from a suicide cliff drop. But our adventure’s not over. Y’see, the next issue takes place during the Batman event Cataclysm. A devastating earthquake turns Gotham City into the broken post-apocalyptic wasteland you see during No Man’s Land. And since superheroes always having such impeccable timing, Azrael delivers Bane to the Gotham police at the exact moment the earthquake hits.
But first, how about some self-doubting? It’s more of a Marvel thing, but it’s nice to see DC try to worm its way into Azrael’s decision-making process.
Bane’s point, while not exceptional or totally convincing, does bring up some great points. Batman did invite Azrael into crime-fighting before immediately treating him like crap. To be fair to Batman, Azrael refusing to give back the Batman mantle and then pummeling Bruce Wayne probably warranted Batman’s condescending future treatment of Azrael, but it’s that simple idea of power versus responsibility. Because let’s face it, Batman’s not happy. He devotes his crazy wealth and power to a city and cause that’s largely ungrateful and unchanging. But if Azrael uses his own crazy power to work with Bane, he could probably live that wonderful life of pleasure and fun that his father (and Batman) deny him. I’m just saying, remember when Nightwing took over for Batman a few years ago? We were excited for reasons that included stuff like, oh, this Batman’ll actually smile once in a while.
Then Cataclysm hits and Azrael chases Bane down.
It’s nice for Azrael to get some therapy in before he and Bane kick each other. By the way, for all of Azrael’s efforts, Bane escapes Blackgate Prison pretty soon after this to form his own gang during No Man’s Land. Next time, we’ll jump back to some more venom coverage. Want to see Batman with a full beard? Of course you do.