Gotham City is facing a potential peril, when a costumed criminal named Bane steals a cache of weapons. He journeys to Arkham Asylum and stages a break out, that sets loose Gotham's most notorious criminals; Joker, Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and others. Batman springs to action with intentions on capturing all of these criminals who have plunged Gotham City into a state of madness. But what is Bane's true motive?
The criminal mastermind named Bane has finally won by defeating Batman in battle. To relish in his victory, he hurls Batman's broken and bloody body into the streets of Gotham City for the citizens and police to see. Robin and Alfred bring him back to the Batcave in hopes of saving his life. They learn the situation is far worst, because Bane has also broken his back. Robin along with Batman's other protege Azrael, race for an injection to keep the swelling down. Meanwhile, Bane continues on with his takeover and Gotham City is in turmoil .-summary
Batman - Knightfall Part Two: Who Rules the Knight, collects Batman issues 498 - 500, Detective Comics 664 - 666, Showcase 93' 7 - 8, and Batman Shadow of the Bat 16 - 18. The stories are written by Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, and Alan Grant. The story begins with Alfred fighting to save Bruce Wayne's life in which he does, but now Gotham City is without a Batman. Bruce makes the decision to hand the mantle over to Jean-Paul Valley aka Azrael, and together with Robin, Bruce orders them to help the city, but to stay away from Bane.
The character development begins immediately with Azrael as the center of attention, as he proves to be a far more vicious Batman. His logic is based on "by any means necessary", which goes completely against Bruce's teachings, and Robin is there to remind him constantly. Eventually, Robin is ignored and soon pretty much alienated. Azrael's attitude and the writing feels very similar to the second Robin Jason Todd, who was killed during the Death in the Family storyline. Very similar to Jason, Azrael is very reckless and appears not to be watching his own back much less Robin's. It takes very little time for the reader to understand that they're witnessing a totally different Batman in action.
Azrael is given an ample amount of time to develop in different ways, by also taking on characters such as Scarecrow and even Anarchy. The true transition takes place when he begins to alter the costume, by adding bat shuriken shooting gauntlets to his arsenal. Later, he changes the costume totally, completely separating himself from the original Batman and all of his tactics. The underworld and Bane are in for the wake up call of their lives.
Speaking of Bane, his take over of Gotham is moving smoothly, but this new Batman chooses to confront him anyway, which leads to a brutal showdown. Fortunately, other characters aren't kicked to the side, as the reader will get to see Bruce dealing with his handicap being confined to a wheelchair. For the first time I can think of, Bruce really does consider giving up, because the loss to Bane has definitely effected him mentally.
Although the story is still solid, it kind of lacks the intricate storytelling of the first volume. In addition, there's also a break in the main story which causes some pacing issues. But at least the story was never boring to me, and there was enough going on to keep me reading. The story could have also used a little more background on Azrael too, because casual fans and new readers won't have a clue how he came to be in the story, and the best way to learn about him would be by reading Batman: Sword of Azrael, which was billed as the prelude to Knightfall.
The artwork is still pretty strong, but since this is a crossover, don't expect the same quality all around. Although some titles have better artwork than others, there's nothing that I would consider to be bad or even below average. The action panels are very good, and the battle with Bane has several bloody moments. I like how the fight wasn't too overly exaggerated, and it even turned into a straight street fight.
This second volume moves at a decent enough pace, and it ended on a strong note giving off the appearance that everything ends well. However, this is only the beginning because things do take a turn for the worst. Overall, this is a nice follow up to the first volume, and it will be sure to entertain new readers as well as die hard fans. This chapter is 280 pages. Recommended.
Pros: -Ties up the first half well, action, artwork, character development
Cons: -Some pacing issues
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