With the popularity of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” these days, I am sure there are those who were wondering just who Bane was and how he came to be in the comic books. Bane was an enigma, the character came out of nowhere in Detective comics as a creation of Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan (no relation to the director), and Doug Moench. Bane remained an enigmatic figure back when he made his first appearance, he was one of those villains that you knew was going to make an impact to the current Batman continuity and yet readers knew almost next to nothing about his origins. Even the Joker character was peeved that someone who came from nowhere did what none of Batman’s rogues gallery was able to do--this was Break the Batman, both psychologically and physically.
Before the climax of "Knightfall", DC Comics then went for Bane’s own one-shot issue that goes into his secret origin. It was to the credit of the editors at DC that they thought to tie Bane up into the past issues of Batman and “Legends of the Dark Knight” via to strength-enhancing drug called “Venom“. Bane was related to Batman’s own past, and indirectly shares some parallels to Wayne’s own character make up. It was also a good approach to keep readers in the dark until Bane started making an impact by breaking the arms of Killer Croc, made a few more subtle appearances in the Bat-books and a month or so before he broke Wayne, this issue was released to comic book fandom.
Pena Duro. The hell hole where the vilest of criminals are imprisoned. The law of Santa Prisca was ruthless and cruel. If the sinner had hidden then his male child would serve his sentence. A failed coup attempt becomes the catalyst for Bane’s creation. A woman who carries him in her womb has been sentenced to serve the sins of Bane’s father. Bane grew up in the shadows of Pena Duro, he has seen many things that human eyes should never have witnessed. Despite the abuses of the prison warden, the boy hung on and instead of breaking his spirit, this had made the young boy stronger in mind and much more determined to become what he sees as his own level of perfection. Winning the admiration of the other inmates, the loyalty and respect of Bird, Zombie and Trogg, Bane is now a legend to the damned of Pena Duro. Now, Bane is about to born as he sets his sights to the faraway land called Gotham…he is the man meant to break the Batman and rule Gotham.
“Vengeance of Bane” was written by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Graham Nolan with inking by Eduardo Barreto in 1993. This one-shot is Bane’s story, it the kind of thing that abandons what the common definition of a comic book is, (some have called them the ’funnies’) and goes for something far more realistic and at times, even unnerving. We all know the story of Batman, he was born because the death of his parents affected his mental make up, but rather than succumbing to that trauma, Bruce Wayne manages to channel all that rage and guilt into something that made him different. Well, the writing of Dixon brings an orphaned young boy much like Bruce, but this time, this is a boy born not out of privilege and riches, but a boy who had nothing.
Many Batman readers would say that Leslie Thompkins and Alfred Pennyworth were essential to Bruce Wayne’s maturity, that they had helped shape the man behind the mantle of the Bat. This is true, now imagine a boy who grew up knowing no love but rather witnesses what goes on within the walls of a hell-like prison. Dixon had some restraint, as he exposes the story of this young boy; watching as brutal murder and rape gets committed before his eyes. Bane was forced to mature a lot more quickly in order to survive. This is where the parallels to Bruce’s and Bane’s origins come together. Bruce may have had a traumatizing event scar him, while Bane’s life was traumatizing since he came out of his mother’s womb. This makes the man with his own sense of twisted honor and cruelty.
The writing by Dixon boldly goes into Bane’s origins. This is a boy who had gotten used to isolation. He grew into adulthood fighting for his life every night and this had made him a legend to the damned. Dixon also shows the way such things work, and Bane is often challenged and yet the man never relents and fights off every challenge by murder. There is something very realistic in the way the story unfolds, in many ways, it is easy to feel sympathy for this man, and yet, he is very frightening. For whatever reason, Bane’s obsession with Gotham and Batman become his driving force and Dixon made the reasons easy to buy into. There is an almost mystical aura with the way this was unfolded, as Bane dreams of a man-like Bat creature. This mystical link is further developed into the comic book continuity as Bane studies his prey and what he sees the one thing that keeps him from supremacy.
The writing and artwork come together to bring Bane’s world into the reader’s eyes. Nolan’s art did not hold back from the expression of the story’s violent nature. He uses shadows to hide the grisly details, but some panels and scenes of the story were very bloody. I have to give credit to the writing and the graphics presented in this issue, Dixon and Nolan truly wanted to create a very imposing figure and they had succeeded. It was also wise for the creators to link Bane to something out of Batman’s own shameful past as portrayed in “Venom”.
“Vengeance of Bane” is the story that makes “Knightfall” much more compelling and even more believable. This is the birth of the man who would break the Batman. The one man who did what the Joker, the Penguin, the Court of Owls or Hush had never done. The Deacon almost succeeded in breaking the Bat, but even he had to rely on drugs and illusion to do so. Bane is the one villain that Batman may indeed fear…maybe even respect. Bane may be Bruce Wayne--without a conscience.
Bane could've killed Bats in their first meeting but then he had this to say: "You do not kill. That is strange. A creature cloaked in nightmare. A figure of terror in a city of terror. And yet, you will not break the sixth commandment."
This says a lot to their unspoken, eerie and unknown relationship.
Still think Christopher Nolan did a fantastic job with his depiction of Bane? Well, it was way better than what Hollywood studios did with the character in the abysmal "Batman and Robin" movie, Nolan at least respected the spirit of the character....