The Freedom of Madness
Credits: Doug Moench (writer), Jim Aparo (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)
Summary: Bane and his men rob an armory and target Arkham Asylum. Using remote-controlled explosives and rockets, they break prisoners out of their cells. Joker remains inside to torment Jeremiah Arkham, as Batman arrives too late to stop the other inmates from escaping. Joker makes his escape as Batman stays behind to free Jeremiah from a death-trap.
- Jean-Paul Valley gets a haircut from Robin, debuting a new look following his first appearance in the Sword of Azrael miniseries.
- Robin is wearing a black armband with the Superman emblem on it. This ties in with the concurrent “Death of Superman” event.
- Gotham’s new mayor, Mayor Krol, is furious with Commissioner Gordon following the armory attack. I’m assuming Krol’s election as mayor is part of an ongoing storyline, since Gordon remarks that Krol’s only in office because of his “machine,” and Moench’s dialogue seems to go out its way to paint Krol as a right-wing, anti-crime extremist.
I Love the ‘90s: A police officer remarks that the Arkham inmates, who have received parachuted weapons from Bane, are more heavily armed than Saddam Hussein.
Total N00B: No effort is made to explain who exactly Jean-Paul Valley is. He also makes vague references to a recent confrontation with Killer Croc, which happened in a story not reprinted in the Knightfall trade paperback.
Review: Wow, Vengeance of Bane has a few reminders that it’s from a different era, but this one is practically Adam West compared to the contemporary Batman titles. The story opens with Trogg, the caveman/electronics genius, breaking into a military armory with a giant toy robot, then has an Arkham Asylum breakout initiated by a bird carrying a balloon filled with explosives. And Arkham Asylum is a clean, well-lit facility located in a serene rural setting, as opposed to the decrepit haunted house that’s falling into Hell that we see today. (Was the animated series the first appearance of the truly “gothic” Arkham Asylum?) The story still tries to sell its importance, sixteen police officers die in the breakout and the story ends with Batman crying out in an outrageous wail of agony, but it’s not capital-letters SERIOUS at this point. And it’s still enjoyable, without anyone’s face getting ripped off or any bloody on-panel deaths. I suppose it could be argued that this is too traditional, though. The prospect of a massive Arkham breakout would be horrifying for the citizens of Gotham, which is something the tone of the issue fails to convey. Still, it’s Batman, it’s fun to read, and there’s lovely Jim Aparo art to enjoy.