Welcome one and all to this our fifth edition of comics corner, after taking a grounded break from the superhero stuff in issue four, we return to the business of masked mayhem this week. Seing as the rather excellent, Bane centric poster for The Dark Knight Rises (check over here if you havent seen it yet) landed online this week, I decided to dip into the archives, back to Banes big moment! This week I started on Knightfall, the first arc in the Batman Knight Saga. The first half of the arc known as Broken Bat is an eleven issue series which starts with a mass breakout at Arkham Asylum and ends quite literally with Batman broken.
Originally published between April and July of 1993 KnightFall was illustrated by Jim Aparo, Graham Nolan, Jim Balent and Norm Breyfogle and was written between Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench. Although I prefer the latter’s individual issues, together the pair really push Gotham’s caped crusader to the very limit. Although KnightFall and in particular Broken Bat are infamous for the final issue, which see’s Bane break Batman’s back. It’s the progressive physical and mental deconstruction of the dark knight through the arc’s twelve issues, which makes for a truly captivating read. As mentioned earlier the story starts with Gotham’s most wanted being sprung from Arkham Asylum leaving the city in a state of chaos. Straight away this does two things, firstly it gives the writers the opportunity to utilise some key figures from Batman’s notorious gallery of rogues. Secondly it pieces together a testing gauntlet for our hero to face.
Initially I wasn’t too impressed with the first two issues, I felt like the inclusion of character’s such as The Ventriloquist and The Mad Hatter led to quite a slow and campy start. Although the mauling of Film Freak at the hands of Bane and a toy shop showdown between Bats and Amygdala, does eleviate somewhat from the lesser qualities of the first two. However things really pick up come issue #3 when the maniacal murderer Victor Zsasz is introduced into the fold. Zsasz has always been one of my favourite villains, his intensity and innate hatred has always been compelling and in his KnightFall appearance we get a good look at what makes him such a dangerous foe. His appearance is brief but potent as he takes a group of women hostage and without going into too much detail, gets to engrave two more marks onto his body of work. Truth be told im more than excited to see Christopher Nolan’s upcoming take on Bane but a character like Zsasz is tailored for the dark universe he has created so far.
But I digress, alongside a plethora of foes to take down and test his will power against Broken Bat also brings to the surface an interesting aspect of Batman’s psyche as well as his relationship with Tim Drake’s Robin. As he continues to be worn down in all areas Batman’s persistence raises some interesting questions about the man behind the mask. Does he carry on to fight for the right reasons? Is he really obsessed with fulfilling the role he has adopted? And who is it he is fighting for, Gotham or himself? At points it seems as if it’s his ego which is driving him, as if he believes nobody else can save Gotham. His reasons and his overall demeanour has always been ambiguous to say the least, but Broken Bat moves the microscope a little closer to these particular issues.
Outside of the relationship with himself this particular arc also examines his relationship with the third incarnation of Robin, Tim Drake. The death of Drake’s predecessor is touched upon at one point and it’s this raw and hurtful memory which at first glance, seems to be the reason he distances Robin from the action unfolding in Gotham. But on second glance and with what I touched on earlier, I began to ask myself if it is Bruce Waynes ego which keeps the boy wonder at arms length. The defiant and at time reckless behaviour from Robin not only plays with the dynamics between the duo, but also adds to the character development in Broken Bat. When he is kidnapped by Bane you begin to understand why he has been excluded, but then we also get to see the pro’s of his input when he helps track down Firefly, the psychotic arsonist and former inmate of Arkham.
If you havent read Broken Bat and you can get your hands on a copy I would definetly recommend it, especially if your looking to gen up on relevant Batman knowledge before next year.
Over the next seven days I will be finishing the KnightFall arc with the second part of the story Who Rules The Night. After that I will continue with Knight Quest and then end the saga with Knights End. After that? Well look below and see my reading list for the foreseeable future…
Comics Corner Reading List
The Dark Phoenix Saga (X-Men)
Preacher Vol 1- 9
On top of these I will, as usual also be checking out certain single issues as and when they come out, but thats what the volumized future of Comics Corner looks like. If you want to read along then you are more than welcome and there is the list, if you dont and you want to stick to your own thing thats cool to. On that note I shall bid you farewell fellow comic fans, whatever you are reading enjoy, and I shall see you here next week