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Batman: Tom King Has Transformed Bane Into the Greatest Bat-Villain, Ever

THE MIND GAMES

As King has Bane laying out his mind games, we're reminded how brilliant a strategist he is. The curtain was raised in Batman #50, when it was revealed Bane was Holly Robinson's puppet master, whispering doubts into Catwoman's ear about marrying Bruce. The influence of her best friend pushed Selina Kyle to leave him at the altar, proving Bane isn't just about breaking the Bat physically, but also mentally.

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He doesn't care for Bruce's secret identity, he simply wants to dissolve every ounce of happiness, from marriage and family to the promise of a better tomorrow. But that doesn't mean he wants Bruce's affiliates dead. Bane, unlike Joker and company, believes people living and suffering is a much greater torment. This is why he helped drive Selina away, knowing the damage it would inflict internally. It's also why, though he hired the KGBeast to shoot Nightwing, he didn't want Dick dead. Amnesia suits his needs better, as it reminds Bruce that Dick might actually have been happy had he never been taken under his wing, which is a haunting stroke of genius on the mastermind's part.

Seeing Bane commanding his own army of rogues within the confines of Arkham to execute all this reiterates the kind of mastermind he is. He's creating a maze not even Batman can solve, as Bruce is yet to figure out Bane seeded the info that caused Jason Todd to try to kill the Penguin. Basically, he's disassembling everything Bruce worked his entire life for -- his hopes, dreams and the symbol of the Bat, something no other villain has ever come close to accomplishing.

THE OVERALL EFFECT ON BRUCE

The overall impact Bane's had as an instrument of destruction has been phenomenal. Bane's actions have driven Bruce to depression and damaged his psyche to the point he can't control his anger anymore. This is evidenced by Bruce assaulting Mr. Freeze, almost killing the KGBeast and shockingly punching Commissioner Gordon, reaffirming that both the hero and the man are well and truly broken.

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And Batman clearly knows the time is coming for him to face these inner demons Bane has riled up, as hinted at by him recruiting a new team of Outsiders. Bruce is now doubting himself as the man to usher in a new generation of vigilantes. He's second-guessing every move, and fighting from a place of anger, not love. In other words, Bane's plan to sink him further under the cowl, steeped in vengeance, is working perfectly.

Ultimately, Batman has a contingency plan for everything and everyone, but the fact he remains in the dark when it comes to Bane's long-term scheme, it shows just how deep, intricate and scary it is. King's run is the crown jewel and culmination of so many Bane stories, punctuating how we've underestimated him, and that he is indeed more mind than muscle. Stacking his recent actions, where he's always a step ahead, on top of what we've seen him do to Bruce in years prior, it's undeniable he's Batman's polar opposite. No one has ever put Bruce through the wringer like this, and the sad thing is, it appears King's Bane is just getting started.

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