Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday Review: Vegeance of Bane

UPDATE:  If you remember Monday's post, I talked about the online book fair where I will be this weekend.  I found out if you want to go you have to register with the site by Friday at noon (EST I assume) so even if you want to drop by for a few minutes, be sure to register TODAY! It is FREE, so what the hell, right?  Link to the site!

Now on with the show!  I'm going to continue my walk down memory lane with old Batman comics.  Because I can.  I remembered seeing the Vengeance of Bane comics on Amazon but I never bothered to buy them.  I mean anything I needed to know about Bane was in the Knightfall novelization.

Just before "The Dark Knight Rises" came out though I went to the DC website and they had both Vengeance of Bane comics on sale for 99 cents each.  So what the hell, I decided to read them.

The first part is set before the Knightfall storyline.  It details Bane's origin story.  On the island of Santa Prisca (a made up Caribbean island) the evil junta have recently crushed a rebellion.  Bane's father was part of it but not captured or something.  (That part isn't explained.)  According to the island's law, his son then has to serve the sentence.  Except he doesn't have a son--yet.  His wife is pregnant and when she gives birth to a boy, the infant is forced to live in the prison.

A couple of years later, his mother dies in captivity.  The cruel warden releases the young boy into the general population of the prison.  After one inmate hassles him, the boy kills the inmate in brutal fashion.  The warden gives the boy the name Bane since he considers the child a bane to his regime.  Then he throws Bane into solitary confinement for years.

While in solitary, Bane envisions himself becoming a perfect being, both strong and wise.  His only enemy is fear, epitomized by a giant bat.  So Bane sets himself to ridding himself of fear and perfecting his body.

Years later he's released back into the general population, but now he is a big strong man who also devours books to improve his mind.  Then a scientist shows up at the prison to conduct some experiments on inmate "volunteers" with a supersteroid known as Venom.  The warden sees how the Venom has killed everyone it's injected into, so he signs Bane up in the hopes of getting rid of him.

Of course it doesn't kill him.  Instead it only makes Bane stronger.  Not only that, but some plastic armor shields are grafted beneath his skin to help make him more impervious to damage.

An inmate named Zombie who works in the infirmary and who remembers Bane from his youth swipes some of the Venom and figures out how to replicate it.  With the formula in hand, Bane breaks out of the prison with the help of two other buddies:  Bird and Trogg.

Bird was a low-level player in Gotham City and he tells Bane that Batman runs the city.  So Bane decides he's going to destroy Batman.  First, though, he goes to the city to see about getting some Venom made and helps Bird settle a score.  This draws the attention of Batman.  Bane stays out of sight, observing his prey and waiting to strike...

This was an interesting read though as I said it's not really essential.  Bane's backstory is probably implausible in a number of ways, but this is a comic book, so whatever.  Still, this first part might be good reading if you want to see the origin of the character in the movie.

There's also a Vengeance of Bane, Part 2.  This takes place after Knightfall.  Bane is locked up in Blackgate Prison, where he's in terrible pain from a lack of Venom.  After getting beat up by another inmate, Bane decides it's time to break the Venom habit and get back into shape.  First, though he kills another inmate to get thrown into solitary, where again he works to improve himself and begins plotting his escape.

After getting out of solitary, he puts his plan into action to get out of the prison.  Once he's free, his plan isn't to take revenge on Batman, who at this point is back to being Bruce Wayne.  Instead Bane wants to find the people making Venom and destroy the drug once and for all.  Then he plans to go back to Santa Prisca to take revenge and to perhaps find his father, who might be alive.

Bane locates the people supplying the city with Venom, but as he's fighting them, Batman shows up.  They work together to take on a couple of dudes hopped up on Venom.  Strangely Bane has no interest in fighting Batman, while Batman is very interested in fighting him.  You think Bruce took getting his back broken a little hard?  But the roof starts to cave in before they can fight and Bane escapes to head back to Santa Prisca, which is the subject of another series of comics, which I didn't bother to read, at least not yet.

The second part wasn't all that interesting.  I suppose I didn't really care about Bane redeeming himself and becoming less of a villain.  It was kind of like "Godfather III" in that way.  Then of course you get gypped of a Bane-Batman rematch.  That does happen years later but whatever.

I wouldn't recommend buying these on Amazon, where they can go for $8-$10.  I mean for what they really contribute they aren't worth more than a couple of bucks.

Friday is a guest post that for once isn't written by the Grumpy Bulldog!


  1. Guest post? Who could it possibly be?

  2. I'd argue that these comics make Bane more significant than what most people would assume he is: just a random hulked-out villain who beat Batman as part of a drawn-out storyline. Instead we get Batman's opposite, a man who improves himself and sets out on a quest. The main difference between Batman and Bane ends up being Bane's inability to truly break free from his origins. He obsesses over them in ways Batman could have, but never did, instead focusing his energies on improving the present. In the second special, Bane sort of gets that when he decides to eliminate the Venom drug that led to his downfall (something he depended on through no fault of his own, by the way), but it would be like Batman going on a crusade to eliminate guns. That just doesn't make any sense.

    Bane becomes a tragic figure, not just a villain but someone who can't figure out why he is the way he is, and reacting against everything in such an overblown way that he can never achieve his goals in anything more than a temporary sense. He's incredibly capable. And during "Knightfall," he even senses that Batman may be more like him than he ever thought, but Bane is still so consumed by his distractions that he can never truly overcome his problems the way Batman does, which is most dramatically demonstrated in the "Knightfall" saga.

    That he doesn't want to fight Batman again is nothing against him, however. His aim was never truly Batman to begin with. He wanted to make himself a legend, and Batman was a means to an end. Batman's urge to fight Bane again, if anything, is a sign that sometimes the hero is fallible, too. There's no longer any reason for Batman to fight Bane, except revenge. Bane already faced that, though, against a different Batman.

    What subsequent writers have failed to realize is that Bane is as fascinating a character as "Knightfall" and the two "Vengeance" specials continue to suggest. In many ways, he's the one who should have had a series that ran for a hundred issues, not Azrael (there's a rematch between them within the first third of that series).

    The interesting thing about "Dark Knight Rises" is that SPOILER ALERT it cuts the same rug out from under him. For most of it we're convinced that he's the brilliant boy of vision who made the chaos in Gotham possible. But he's really just the hired thug. Still, even having that image in the popular consciousness again does wonders for the character.

    It's a step in the right direction. If Bane can truly grow, it will be because someone sees potential in him again. He's a dark character, but also a mirror for one of the greatest superheroes of our time.

    1. Actually the fight between Azrael and Bane is the focus of next week's review, because those are the only Azrael comics I could find online.

      I've heard someone else complain in the movie Bane turns out just to be a hired thug (and is disposed of as such) but really even if it was someone else's plan, he was still the guy who had to make it work. He was the guy who had to recruit and maintain all those loyal followers and make sure all the right people were manipulated into doing what needed to be done. You really have to admire how he was able to make that convoluted plan work right up to the end.

  3. Pat thanks for the review because I probably won't buy the comics. That said the second comic looks far more interesting than the first. I guess I find it interesting to see Bane becoming more than just the back-breaker. Great reviews.

  4. I think the timing of the ebook fair thing that you and I are doing is really bad because people are doing the Write On Con thing. But we'll see.

  5. Good Lord! That picture of Bane on the comics cover looks a LOT more like the Bane in that positively dreadful 'Batman and Robin' with George Clooney, Batgirl, and the nipple suits than Dark Knight Rises!!!
    This was a great review. I knew that Bane was much more than Poison Ivy's thug. Or even the wrecker of Gotham City (cool as that storyline was, though).



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