Tom King continues the final story arc of his Batman run, "City of Bane", with a chapter that just threw fans a major twist, in a pretty shocking cliffhanger. Batman #82 literally and figuratively steps into the ring that issue #81 set up, as Batman and Bane de-mask themselves and remove all of their usual advantage-providing gadgets (Utility Belt, Venom serum) in order to have a no-holds-barred fight inside of Arkham, with the intention of proving whose city Gotham really is. Well, that fight gets as dirty as you might expect, and intends with a major twist at someone intervenes in the Batman vs. Bane fight, with fatal results!
Warning: Major Batman #82 SPOILERS Follow!
The Batman vs Bane fight is as hard-hitting as you may expect from these two longtime nemeses. Catwoman is the only witness on hand, though Bruce Wayne tells Bane that this is "Not her city. Not her fight. No help." The two start scrapping, but as it turns out (and was teased in issue #81), Batman has learned an important lesson: he doesn't have to do things alone anymore, and his enemies' assumption that he is nothing but an angry loner is a misconception that Batman can weaponize - and does.
It turns out that Batman was totally lying about facing Bane alone: Catwoman is there to be his tag-team partner in whipping Bane's ass (literally)! Not only does Catwoman join the fray and put some serious smackdown on Bane - Bruce pulls a Die Hard-style move of taping two Batarangs to his back, which he pulls during the fight in order to cut Bane up. However, even with the combined efforts of Batman and Catwoman's tag-team - not to mention a few dirty fight tactics - Bane still proves to be a formidable opponent, and Catwoman ends up getting badly hurt when Bane kicks her into a wall, knocking her out cold and possibly injuring her worse than that. Bruce retaliates by smashing Bane's face into the floor repeatedly until the villain is just a bloody pile of pummeled meat - but Batman isn't stopping there. As punishment for Bane's reign of terror over Gotham, Batman decides it's time for some payback by breaking Bane's back as a way to stop the villain for good without injuring him.
However, just as Bruce raises Bane up in perfect reversal of the iconic "Bane breaks Batman's back" scene from the '90s, Thomas Wayne arrives at Arkham and shoots Bruce right in the abdomen. The elder Batman wastes no time turning on his evil ally, as Thomas shoots the injured Bane point-blank in the head, seemingly killing him.
So is Bane gone for good? Tom King now has Batman fans on the edge of their collective seats, waiting for that answer.
Batman #82 is now on sale.