Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1

Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1

The villainous Bane breaks the Bat in one of the most popular and well-known Batman tales! The inmates of Arkham Asylum have broken free and Batman must push himself to the limits to re-apprehend the Joker, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, Killer Croc and more. Pushed to the limits, he comes face-to-face against the monstrosity known as Bane, who delivers a crippling blow destined...

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Title:Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1
Author:Chuck Dixon
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1 Reviews

  • Jedi JC Daquis

    Back then, the whole world was still experiencing the repercussions of the death of Superman when Knightfall was published. The Man of Steel did had a good death last year, why not with Bats too?

    Batman during the dark age of comics was largely on his own. Post-Watchmen, Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, The Bat family was just composed of Batman and Robin, but he was almost unbeatable (except maybe in Death in the Family). So how can a villain break him? That is the thesis of Knightfall.

    Back then, the whole world was still experiencing the repercussions of the death of Superman when Knightfall was published. The Man of Steel did had a good death last year, why not with Bats too?

    Batman during the dark age of comics was largely on his own. Post-Watchmen, Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, The Bat family was just composed of Batman and Robin, but he was almost unbeatable (except maybe in Death in the Family). So how can a villain break him? That is the thesis of Knightfall. Slowly and carefully, Bane crafted a masterplan to wear Wayne down, and finally to literally break him. Without a large Bat family to help him, the solution was simple: observe him as he takes on the villains one by one, then strike at the time when he is tired all over and beaten.

    The first time I read Knightfall six years ago (largely due to Nolan's films) I felt that Bane is a cheater. No he's not. He just knew exactly how to defeat Batman, thus the Knightfall run, which I can imagine was an unprecedented storyline during the 90s. Bane knew that defeating Batman would require every ounce of evil Gotham could ever experience.

    Knightfall is the answer when somebody asks you which 90s comics to read. It is the definitive and best-ever Bane story. Reading it now in 2018 would definitely take you to nostalgia comics land where narratives are dominated by gritty themes and dark figures of speech and the measure of a macho are a thousand muscles and shiny metal armor. That's pure 90s pal.

    Nolan definitely took down notes while reading Knightfall. Many elements in the story made it to the trilogy, not only the epic breaking of the bat scene. It's fun to see these elements being realized in the Dark Knight movies.

    Though Knightfall feels off against today's stories (obviously), this is a story that every Batman fan should read. Seriously people, read this.

  • Jonathan Terrington

    When it comes to Batman and his classic comic book villains most people immediately think of The Joker. They might then think of Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow or Mr Freeze for example. But I have to say that I personally find Bane a more deadly adversary than any of them. Because unlike the other villains he is perfectly sane. While Joker's plans are based around his insanity and his propensity towards chaos Bane is a brute who cunningly plans to take Gotham as his own. Think of him as Batman

    When it comes to Batman and his classic comic book villains most people immediately think of The Joker. They might then think of Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow or Mr Freeze for example. But I have to say that I personally find Bane a more deadly adversary than any of them. Because unlike the other villains he is perfectly sane. While Joker's plans are based around his insanity and his propensity towards chaos Bane is a brute who cunningly plans to take Gotham as his own. Think of him as Batman turned mob boss if you will and pumped full of a venom drug which enhances his abilities to superhuman levels.

    In Knightfall we see Bane come to Gotham and release anarchy (curiously a name of a vigilante who appears later in the book) upon the city when he blows a whole in Arkham Asylum. A sick Batman then struggles to contain and defeat foes such as Two-face, Ventriloquist, Poison Ivy, Joker, Scarecrow and Firefly, running himself ragged in the process. As he does this Bane watches on, works out who Batman really is and then finally when Batman has been physically and mentally crushed attacks him at Wayne Manor and breaks the bat. This for me is one of the most iconic comic book scenes apart from say Superman's death, Spiderman leaving behind his suit and also the Spiderman scene with the death of Gwen Stacy. What follows the breaking of the bat is more chaos into which a new Batman, a figure wearing the cowl and who makes technological improvements, steps to confront the evil and take back Gotham from Bane.

    What is so significant in this comic omnibus is the depiction of a broken Batman as mentioned before. As a character he had taken many gunshots and wounds but he had always had the mental edge on opponents. No one had broken him mentally and defeated him in a one on one fight until Bane did which opened up a whole new area for the comics and posed the question: could Batman still continue to defeat his enemies while not killing?

    There are other questions posed again such as the thought that since the insane members of Arkham do not play by the book the police need a Batman who too does not play by the book. Another question is raised by the psychologist who says that all the inmates are merely misunderstood which is challenged by everyone else who says, 'a body count in the triple digits and they're misunderstood?*' Either way the whole challenge of how the Arkham inmates should be tried is thrown up. Should they get away with crimes on the basis of criminal insanity?

    A very excellent comic book omnibus and very much recommended. I personally prefer this story arc to

    or

    . While it may lack the sophistication of those works I still believe it has more uplifting ideas. This omnibus does not focus on death and doom but rather on how to come back from defeat and how to take defeat. If you want a different Batman story to others that have been raved about then try this out for size.

    *paraphrased of course

  • Donovan

    "HE IS A

    TO EVERYTHING HOLY!"

    This is the largest graphic novel I've read to date, exceeding Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmen, Return of Superman, and even Saga Book One. But it's extremely readable and it took me just a few days. It's also among my favorite Batman stories ever.

    So the four hundred pound gorilla in the room quite literally is Bane. We learn his origin story, growing up in a third world prison, where he mentally snaps and thirsts for absolute power in Gotham. There's great

    "HE IS A

    TO EVERYTHING HOLY!"

    This is the largest graphic novel I've read to date, exceeding Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmen, Return of Superman, and even Saga Book One. But it's extremely readable and it took me just a few days. It's also among my favorite Batman stories ever.

    So the four hundred pound gorilla in the room quite literally is Bane. We learn his origin story, growing up in a third world prison, where he mentally snaps and thirsts for absolute power in Gotham. There's great depth and personality to his origin, but I'll leave it there to avoid any spoilers.

    Some critics will complain that Bane, like the book as a whole, is ridiculous. But let's back up and look at the book itself. This was written early 90s, post-The Dark Knight Returns but still in the era of comic camp, and I guess that's why this works so well for me. My good friend Chris helped me realize this is a sort of "camp grit," a mix of superhero camp and the dark and gritty we've come to love and expect from Batman comics thanks to writers like Frank Miller. I don't think this comic would have made the same impact on me or its readership if it was written any other way. This seems to me the best of 90s comics.

    Which is exactly why I love Bane. He is a perfect villain. Haters gonna hate, but I think apart from the far too often written about Joker, Bane is one of Batman's greatest villains as far as I've read. His hatred mimics that of the Joker in its chaos and unreasonableness. His strength and speed are absolute. He's a sociopathic genius who attracts followers like meteors to a black hole. And he's fed poisonous super steroids that make him even stronger. That's all great dark and gritty writing. The camp is where people complain, like his costume for example, and sometimes the dialog and his dialog, too. Why is he dressed like a professional wrestler? What's with the mask? I don't know, it's weird, it's cheesy, just go with it. Because when he breaks Batman you're going to think twice about his spandex. He sometimes slips into the role of prototypical villain and says things like 'I will destroy him,' 'Gotham will be mine.' It really didn't bother me. And it's rarely like that. He's smart and vicious and very much his own man. It's the 90s. What-ever. As if.

    The other criticism I hear is about Jean Paul Valley/Azrael, Batman's temporary replacement and whom I've never heard of outside this comic. I'll tell you why I think people don't like him: He's to Batman as Jason Todd is to Robin. He's stupid, headstrong, disrespectful, a poor detective. But I don't hate him, just like I don't hate Jason Todd. I have little empathy for Jean, he's a meathead, he's an ass to the very noble Tim Drake, and he thinks he's better than Bruce. But he's not a bad Batman, that's the thing. He's idiotic but ruthless, which is exactly what's needed when Bruce is incapacitated. And his subliminal "System" training definitely piqued my interest. Is he Bruce, is he classic Batman? Absolutely not. But I'm curious what Knightfall Vol. 2 holds for him.

    The great thing about this book is that it's not just about Batman and Bane. Other villains like Scarecrow, Joker, and Two Face have great page time. Scarecrow has several chapters in which he and Joker kidnap the mayor and attempt to take over the city. There are several other villains, some stupid, so prepare yourself. Ventriloquist (exactly as it sounds) was terrible and pointless. Film Freak...what kind of villain is that? And Anarky, an anti-hero, came out of nowhere in the last few issues. But don't worry, the best villains make up for it.

    There's also satire on sanity and mental illness running through this in the form of television segments like TDKR. Dr. Simpson Flanders (reference to Matt Groening?) is a cheery clinical psychologist who promotes his book "I'm Sane and So Are You," while commenting on the various violent televised charades carried out by escaped Arkham patients. He definitely represents the reformation school of thought over the incarceration school, but his naivety is taken to the extreme, saying things to the effect that the patients are merely playing out childhood fears and desires, that they're misunderstood, that society's fear is what causes their violence, and other such nonsense. So that was really cool.

    I almost forgot the artwork. I won't even begin to try to list all the illustrators. There were probably a dozen plus. The art somehow remains incredibly consistent, getting crazy only during Scarecrow's citywide holograms (yes you read that right). It's clean if a bit sketchy, with bold outlines, dark darks and bright colors. Some older works from the 90s and before make for difficult reading (V for Vendetta comes to mind), but this isn't one of them. There were some panels that made me stop and say "hell yeah" they were so well done.

    And ah yes, then there's Batman. Without revealing too much, Batman/Bruce Wayne is at his lowest here, progressively wearing down both physically and mentally throughout these 600+ pages. It's funny, while I can root for Batman in stories where he can't die, I can just as easily root for him in a story like this where he's playing at a loss. It's not even that Bane is better than him, Bane is just a strategist and cowardly beats him when he's already down. Which makes me hate Bane from a Bat fan perspective. If he's such a great fighter why not take Batman while he's in his prime? Well, that would make for a short story, his victory wouldn't be for sure, and how else would there be a rematch? Which, apart from some liberties taken in physics, is a very cool fight scene. Interestingly, Batman the symbol changes with Jean Paul bringing a level of unforeseen ruthlessness and armor. I mean, his character is not great, but it's cool to see Batman finally cross the line and get things done. That always bugged me, because the god damn villains always escape and kill more people. And although the armor looks like a cross between Gundam Wing and Transformers, it does lend far more utilitarianism and weaponry. So if you feel like having a different look at Batman, seeing him break, learning about Bane, and having your mind blown, read this 90s awesomeness.

  • Chris

    Where to begin. I expected this book to be pretty good as every Bat-fan says it is a must read. I did have a feeling that it was more for the importance of his continuity than the story itself. I was wrong. This story is epic. At 600+ pages the size alone affords it that title. The storyline is epic too though. While it is still slightly camp it is clearly post The Dark Knight Returns and things have started to get darker. More like the Batman we know and love today.

    Some of the subject matter

    Where to begin. I expected this book to be pretty good as every Bat-fan says it is a must read. I did have a feeling that it was more for the importance of his continuity than the story itself. I was wrong. This story is epic. At 600+ pages the size alone affords it that title. The storyline is epic too though. While it is still slightly camp it is clearly post The Dark Knight Returns and things have started to get darker. More like the Batman we know and love today.

    Some of the subject matter here is really quite hard hitting. To say things don't go well for Bruce would be a major understatement. There is a vulnerability to him that we don't often see. So used are we to him being a physical, mental and intellectual powerhouse, that seeing him struggling both mentally and physically comes as quite a shock. He is clearly still reeling from the events of a Death In The Family and his mental health has been greatly affected. For fans of Bruce Wayne or Batman, events of this book are really quite moving.

    On to the story. Things kick off with a Bane's origin story. In itself a truly tragic way to enter the world. I am trying desperately to avoid spoilers here but it would be fair to say that he never had a chance to be anything but evil. He is told of the Batman of Gotham and decided in order to prove himself and overcome all fear he must defeat him and take over Gotham City. He breaks all the criminals out of Arkham, forcing Batman to run a gauntlet of villains. Each one wearing him down more, weakening him before Bane’s imminent confrontation. For some reason, in order to conquer his fear, Bane wishes to break an already worn down Batman. Kind of defeating the purpose I feel, but it does make for a great story as Batman battles through Villians of increasing formidability.

    The second part of this story sees Jean Paul Valley (aka Azrael) fill in for Bruce Wayne as Batman. He instantly takes things in a new darker more brutal direction, dispensing of Bruce's code and unleashing his ferocity on Gotham’s criminals. Apprehending the villains now becomes more important than the safety of innocent people. In the latter part of the story he states “I'm a lot like you Bane. Except I stopped my fall just short of the bottom”. I think this is a pretty accurate as Jean Paul Valley new Batman is right on the edge of what separates Bruce’s Batman from the villains. This puts him at odds with Robin (Tim Drake) who becomes increasingly concerned by his methods. I am very interested to see how this relationship develops in Volume two.

    So when people say that Knightfall Volume 1 is a must read for all Batman fans, they are bang on the money. This Is easily one of the best Batman stories I have ever read. A real classic.

  • Khurram

    I did read this quite a long time ago, so I can't remember everything that happened, but it got it's message across. Even a couple of decades later Bane, who has not done much since, is still known as "the man that broke the Bat". The only other villan who had had that kind of introduction is possible Doomsday. The shock value alone of Batman not just losing but losing in such brutal fashion is an image that stayed with me for a long long time. That is the main event fight, the rest of the comic

    I did read this quite a long time ago, so I can't remember everything that happened, but it got it's message across. Even a couple of decades later Bane, who has not done much since, is still known as "the man that broke the Bat". The only other villan who had had that kind of introduction is possible Doomsday. The shock value alone of Batman not just losing but losing in such brutal fashion is an image that stayed with me for a long long time. That is the main event fight, the rest of the comic is great as well with Batman taking on virtually his whole rogues gallery.

  • Lᴀʏᴀ Rᴀɴɪ ✦

    I was never a Bane fan, and I don't think I ever will be at all, which is why I hesitated to pick up the

    series in the first place. The six-hundred-plus pages of the first volume weren't that appealing to spend a lot of time with but I do enjoy a challenge so I kept my hopes up and got started. I finished it within a span of two weeks (though I just read it in a total of six days). In retrospect, it seemed quite fitting for me to end my first Batman comics diet with an omnibus edition

    I was never a Bane fan, and I don't think I ever will be at all, which is why I hesitated to pick up the

    series in the first place. The six-hundred-plus pages of the first volume weren't that appealing to spend a lot of time with but I do enjoy a challenge so I kept my hopes up and got started. I finished it within a span of two weeks (though I just read it in a total of six days). In retrospect, it seemed quite fitting for me to end my first Batman comics diet with an omnibus edition such as this, considering the significance of this particular series to the old continuity. Can you believe it actually has two other volumes (which I will read next time)? It's safe to say this is a long-running series that I might need to pursue later on, for posterity's sake as oppose to ready enjoyment.

    This is a heavyweight collected edition, comprised of the following: 

    SPECIAL #1,

    #491-500,

    #659-660,

    '93 #7 and 8 and

    #17-18. I'll divide this review into significant parts worth noting, and therefore the content may be semi-spoiler-ish. Thread lightly in case you feel like reading this one yourself. If not because the length looks to be a handful, then I hope my summary and analyses would suffice your curiosity of what this omnibus entails.

    Admittedly, I didn't try to notice just how many issues and titles I was reading which isn't difficult to do (at first) because this is an an engrossing read right from the very start with that Bane special which told us his origins as a child who was born and raised inside a prison. I only remember Bane very briefly in

    and never cared much for him. When Nolan turned him into a chief villain in the last film of the trilogy,

    , I remember being intrigued about his interpretation because it was a stark contrast to what I believed him to be growing up. Reading

     solidified that prejudice, however. As much as I enjoyed his origin story (which included his transition to becoming Bane), I found myself starting to care less and less for this asshole as the issues progressed on. In fact, I will state from here on out that I think Nolan's version of the character is more honorable and more nuanced and interesting to see in action.

    Here in the comics he just comes off as a fool with the most vapid of reasons for 'breaking' Batman and conquering Gotham City. It's almost laughable. There was nothing formidable or intimidating about this big guy at all.

    I think because of the roster of artists and writers for this series (we have Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench and Alan Grant, to name a notable few), there was an unavoidable inconsistency in Bane's characterization. With his origin story, he was primed to be an excellent Bat-villain; but then other writers start having different interpretations of his personality and motives in the next stories that what I understood about him in entirety is that he's a character whose arrogance and bloated sense of worth outweigh his actions and accomplishments (a questionable estimate in itself too). You never root for this asshole no matter what happens (well, that's not completely true; there was that moment in the later issues that my money was on him--but I digress. Let me expound on that later).

     is primarily known for the climactic events when Bane 'broke the Bat'. For the non-comic book-reading population, they also know about this because of Nolan's movie. And you know what? They're better off not knowing the details in the comics itself because I myself was absolutely livid and utterly furious with how that scenario played out. I really do prefer the movie's take on it, only because Bane was actually generally likable in the film (in spite of his role to play) and his breaking of Batman's spine made more sense and did not make me feel dirty at all. In the comics, it was completely a douchebag move. Like some creep, Bane merely waited until Batman is at the end of his physical limits (and even then Bats fought back like a champ). It was gross. I wanted to drown myself in a bathtub filled with scalding water just to cleanse myself with that demeaning discovery. It was such a shameful ordeal for everyone involved in writing that, and for anyone who read it. Batman was broken by a piece-of-shit buffoon who cannot even hold a fucking torch to the reputation and terror that the Joker and Ra's Al Ghul are known for. Batman was broken because he was already battling an illness (

    he had pneumonia) and he also had to clean up after Arkham Asylum's inmates started roaming around the city. With the stress Batman is undergoing personally and the commotion he needs to deal with, it was shocking he could still walk, let alone fight. That's the Batman we all admire and root for!

    But then here came some mediocre douche who was so cowardly and self-entitled; only dangerously powerful because of some venom he injects in his body, and he broke Batman's spine and acted as if it was a world record, never-been-that-before feat of strength and cunning. I cannot stress how much I was literally SCREAMING at the screen while I was reading this ("

    !" was what I shouted, I think). I was so disgusted with everything that I put off reading the next issues for at least another whole day.

    When I did come back to it, Bane was thankfully not the center of the stories anymore--but I can't be joyous about that yet because the asshole is replaced by another douchebag named Jean-Paul Valley.

    UGH. Remember a while ago I said that there was a moment while reading

     that I actually rooted for Bane, the bane of every sane human's existence? Well, that happened because someone I equally despise decided to challenge him to a death match and that douche in question was named Jean-Paul Valley who started out as a pretty cool secondary character when he was just his own hero (a.k.a Azrael), helping out the good guys. But things got sour pretty quickly when he was tasked to put on the Batman cowl in the meantime while Bruce recuperates. And the son of a bitch loved it and enjoyed beating up thugs and criminals

    too much. It was like watching a substitute teacher take over a classroom with utmost aggression in spite of his inadequacies for the job.

    In Jean-Paul's case, it's his lack of discipline and moral resoluteness. I kept cringing in every fucking moment he would choose callous pragmatism and violent means which one time almost cost an innocent life. It was so horrible. While Bane made me scream in fury and frustration, Jean-Paul made me want to go to a corner and just...cry.

    It just goes to show that there is a certain level of nobility and greatness that you expect from Batman as an ideal. And Jean-Paul may wear the costume all he likes but he isn't upholding the values Bruce Wayne instilled. One time he even bragged about his focus being on the

    as oppose to the

    job description of the title. What a piece of shit. One of my favorite small moments was during

    issue, where Bane said it best when he claimed.

    Heck, I applauded that asshole's poetic observation, and y'all know by now I hate him.

    The Robin for this series is Tim Drake who can be a buzzkill sometimes, yeah, but in this occasion, his trepidation and desire for caution around the Batman pretender are very valid and reasonable. But no one listens to Timothy, especially not Jean-Paul whose pages upon pages of monologue and action sequences were so unsettling to watch unfold. I think my enjoyment for the story also suffered. I have no kind of sympathy whatsoever for the supposed hero I'm reading, and the mediocre villain he had to defeat. Srsly, fuck them both. So it's been a really a tight competition between them regarding to which character I loathed the most for this volume (minor spoiler: no one wins that title once I finished the book. I pitied Bane in the end while I eventually and begrudgingly accepted that fucking Jean-Paul will have to do as Batman for now).

    Before I close this part of the review, I would also like to add that as much as I hated what I'm reading, it doesn't mean the writing and illustrations are lackluster or bland. I might be hating on the characters but that's because the writing for their characterizations are outstanding in the first place.The later four-hundred pages of the first volume for 

    are centered around the detestable Bane and jean-Paul as they struggle to define the world in their narrow-sighted terms and misguided actions. Bane failed in his shallow crusade to be a self-made champion of the weak because all he is was a flawed mechanism of his own ruin. Meanwhile, Jean-Paul chose to cross certain lines Bruce could never afford to do, and it therefore placed him in a position where he can very much become the villain himself if he ever forgets the values he's supposed to stand for. With that in mind, someone really needs to take away the costume from him before it gets worse. But then again, where's the fun in that for the second volume?

    Almost all Bat-villains make their appearances as well such as the Joker, Scarecrow, Poison-Ivy, Catwoman, Two-Face, Amygdala, Scarface and the Ventriloquist, and Anarky. There are some humorous Harvey Bullock scenes as well (he delivers a lot of great zingers). Different writers and artists collaborated for the issues and this could either be a pleasant experience or a confounding one if you're more into a consistent art styel and technique. Mine was on the former. I really didn't mind the visual variety because I was engrossed enough with the stories and plot lines to pay a closer attention. The one time I did start to notice the illustrations is during the Scarecrow-centered issues because the detail and panels layout in those were fantastic to browse through.

    *

  • Michael Finocchiaro

    Knightfall is the backstory to Bane, one of Batman's most powerful foes and the unique one to have broken Batman's back. I read this after watching the last of the Christopher Nolan movies, The Dark Knight Rises, and enjoyed it up to the point where Ariel takes over for the recovering Batman. After that - and into the second volume - I felt the story was less interesting. However, the Bane plot and backstory was great and highly enjoyable. As for the movie adaptation, it was just inspired by the

    Knightfall is the backstory to Bane, one of Batman's most powerful foes and the unique one to have broken Batman's back. I read this after watching the last of the Christopher Nolan movies, The Dark Knight Rises, and enjoyed it up to the point where Ariel takes over for the recovering Batman. After that - and into the second volume - I felt the story was less interesting. However, the Bane plot and backstory was great and highly enjoyable. As for the movie adaptation, it was just inspired by the character that Dixon created here but the plot of the movie is something completely different.

  • Sean Gibson

    The nineties were a weird time for comics.

    (Well, to be fair, the nineties were a weird time, period, when you consider that it was a decade whose two greatest achievements were the widespread proliferation of the Internet and an only slightly less widespread proliferation of ironic self-detachment. I could take an easy shot here and note that it’s also the decade that made MC Hammer famous, but I think it’s safe to say that the rise of reality TV celebs in the two thousand aughts and beyond has

    The nineties were a weird time for comics.

    (Well, to be fair, the nineties were a weird time, period, when you consider that it was a decade whose two greatest achievements were the widespread proliferation of the Internet and an only slightly less widespread proliferation of ironic self-detachment. I could take an easy shot here and note that it’s also the decade that made MC Hammer famous, but I think it’s safe to say that the rise of reality TV celebs in the two thousand aughts and beyond has produced a crop of individuals who make even the most ridiculous of 90s celebs (eyes on you, Dustin Diamond) look like a paragon of talent and virtue (though, to be fair, I guess Kato Kaelin was the prototype for useless reality TV celeb, but I’m getting off track here, I think).)

    Everything got turned up to 11—spandex and unstable molecules struggled to contain the absurdly bulging biceps and boobs sported by heroes whose primary superpower was the ability to somehow manage to walk upright despite those enhanced features; flashy (and often anatomically incorrect) art trumped compelling (or even coherent) storytelling; and gimmicks were the preferred sales gooser, whether in the form of ridiculous alternate covers that variously glowed in the dark, featured a hologram, or used ink made from the magic blood of Stan Lee himself* or massive crossover events that struggled to top the ridiculously high stakes of the preceding, continuity-rebooting crossover event that took place only months before. All of these things contributed to a circus atmosphere that culminated in artist Rob Liefeld—a man who either doesn’t believe in feet or has no earthly idea how to draw them and whose haircut was like a Hair Cuttery version of Doctor Octopus’s preferred ‘do—modeling Levis.

    Quality was tough to find in the midst of the insanity, but, every once in a while, it seeped through, even in some of those massive crossovers. (

    will disagree, but I say

    set the gold standard for summer blockbuster comics events…the floor is open for debate.)

    Some of that quality can be found in Nightfall, despite the fact that it’s as gimmicky as James Bond’s boxer briefs. The premise: the mysterious and malicious Bane (himself the poster child for ridiculous anatomy, given that his power was derived from Venom—a substance that is, essentially, steroids on steroids) stalks the Batman with the intent of breaking him, which he does, and in epic fashion: by hoisting Bats up over his head and bringing him down hard on his knee, snapping Batman’s spine and rendering him a paraplegic. In the wake of that epic battle, as Batman struggles to recover, he passes the mantle of the Bat to Jean-Paul Valley, formerly the hero Azrael (not to be confused with Gargamel’s cat from the Smurfs, which is kind of a bummer, because I think that would have been a lot funnier). It turns out that despite his Francophone name, Jean-Paul is a hardass—a little too hard, perhaps, as he begins dispensing some raw, vigilante-style justice despite the protests of the Boy Wonder, who tries (and fails) to act as his Jiminy Cricket.

    Despite the cheap shock-value nature of the story, there’s some good stuff here, even if it’s drawn out (pun intended) over too many pages—this is volume one of two, and it clocks in at MORE THAN 600 PAGES. Before the epic Bane/Batman Brokebat Mountain Throwdown, we get to see Batman, fighting an illness of unknown origin and severity, struggling to round up an all-star collection of his rogues gallery, whom Bane released from Arkham in an attempt to wear Batman down, which makes for a pretty gripping lead-in to the main event (the illness part is perplexing…at times, it sounds like it’s just the flu, and you just want to hand Batman a glass of TheraFlu and tell him to suck it up; at other times, it’s like he’s got what might result from bubonic plague having crazy sex with diphtheria). The pace lags a bit once Batman’s confined to a wheelchair, and there’s a weird interlude that features a trippy Scarecrow story, but, otherwise, this is a solidly entertaining yarn, and not just by 90s standards.

    We’ll call it somewhere around 3.5 stars.

    *I may or may not have made that last one up.

  • Sesana

    It's a solid plot, which is probably why elements of it got used in Dark Knight Rises: Bane breaks the Batman. Unlike in most later appearances of Bane, he isn't a dumb, hulking brute. Even the usually brilliant Batman: The Animated Series went down that route. Here, Bane spends most of the story as a figure in the shadows. He unleashes the entire population of Arkham, then sits back and watches the inmates slowly wear Batman down. Was Bane ever this menacing again? And right up until the iconic

    It's a solid plot, which is probably why elements of it got used in Dark Knight Rises: Bane breaks the Batman. Unlike in most later appearances of Bane, he isn't a dumb, hulking brute. Even the usually brilliant Batman: The Animated Series went down that route. Here, Bane spends most of the story as a figure in the shadows. He unleashes the entire population of Arkham, then sits back and watches the inmates slowly wear Batman down. Was Bane ever this menacing again? And right up until the iconic moment on the cover, it's a good read. Sure, the art and writing are nothing special, even a little dated. But it's still fun to read. And then the Jean Paul as Batman storyline... Less enjoyable, on nearly every level. The confrontation with Bane is anticlimactic at best, and none of the characters are as engaging as they had been at the beginning of the book, or can be elsewhere. Nightwing is all but useless, and only shows in a few panels, and Tim just isn't himself. I also don't like how so much of the action is given to third-stringers (at best) from Arkham, while the real big players are all but ignored. The Ventriloquist's (very spread out) story is a small gem, at least so far. If only all of the heavy hitters had been given such an interesting treatment!

  • Cheese

    1star knocked off because Jean Paul is a cock and I don't like him.

    The first three quarters of this story is brilliant. A real classic. Bane really plays out his game to perfection and beats Batman when he's done and dusted. Bruce manages to keep it going for a long time, but his ego gets the best of him by not asking for help.

    Even Robin and Alfred play a big part in this and when all the bad guys get released from Arkhum it's pandemonium. Again, the joker is the most interesting out of all

    1star knocked off because Jean Paul is a cock and I don't like him.

    The first three quarters of this story is brilliant. A real classic. Bane really plays out his game to perfection and beats Batman when he's done and dusted. Bruce manages to keep it going for a long time, but his ego gets the best of him by not asking for help.

    Even Robin and Alfred play a big part in this and when all the bad guys get released from Arkhum it's pandemonium. Again, the joker is the most interesting out of all the foes.

    A classic story but spoilt by Batman's replacement Azrael/Jean Paul. He's terribly wooden and boring and stupid, I really found it a struggle to read when he was introduced. I suppose he was needed for the evolution of the Batman.

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