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? -summary
Written in 1993 by Chuck Dixon & Doug Moench, Knightfall is regarded as a milestone in the Batman mythos. This trade paperback collects Batman 491 - 497 and Detective Comics 659 - 663. The story was written to parallel the Death of Superman, by putting Batman through his own crisis with a formidable and crafty opponent. However, unlike the Superman saga, which came across as nothing more than an average written and mindless slugfest. There's actually an intricate story being told here, that not only displays Batmans courage and determination, but it also proves that underneath the costume, Batman is only a man and he does have his breaking point.
Batman moves with a full head of steam through Gotham City trying to capture all of the Arkham inmates alone. At first, the narrative feels kind of repetitive going through one villain after the next, but the story is saved due to the depth of Batman's rogues gallery. The villains personalities and sinister drives make for great reading, and most of them aren't easily taken down. Bane is heavily developed as a man on a mission to break the Bat, and claim Gotham as the ultimate prize, by placing himself as the one underground ruler. One particular side story stands out, when the Joker and Scarecrow form an alliance to kidnap the Mayor. Which results in a host of prank calls to kill the Police Department and set up Batman's possible death.
Batman's character is greatly fleshed out even further, and the storytelling is incredible describing the amount of abuse he's been putting himself through for the sake of the city. Robin also helps out in this area to further the character development. The ending of this first chapter is what's truly memorable, and proves the point that Batman can only take but so much. Make no mistake, Knightfall is suspenseful, gripping, and just plain hard to put down.
The artwork is worth an honorable mention for sure. It's crisp, clean, with meticulous character designs. On numerous occasions, the artwork told the story on Batman's condition, through his damaged costume and wobbly knees. I also found the panels to be very easy to read due to the perfect placement of the dialogue boxes.
I do have a small gripe though and it's pretty much in regards to the lack of background. The story pretty much just begins, and you don't learn very much about Bane or just basic story elements. If you want to learn about Bane, then you have to pick up Batman: Vengeance of Bane, or to learn about the Venom drug, you have to read Batman: Venom, and there are other small elements. But these are hardly noticeable complaints, that new readers probably won't even really pick up and it doesn't really effect the narrative.
Batman: Knightfall is one arc that does live up to the hype. Outside of some small issues, the story is still easy to enjoy and very hard to put down. If you haven't read Knightfall by now, then I highly recommend picking up all three books. It's among the best in the Batman mythos. This first book is 268 pages.
-Very well paced, story, plot, and artwork
-Required a little background
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