Sometimes it feels like the world is a bleak and terrible place. It's darker for some than it is for others but through it all, everyone must, at some time, struggle. The struggle is what helps us grow and it's what makes us strong. There are few better embodiments of that concept than DC's Bane, the villain that managed to break the Bat.
While he's highly intelligent and has admirably embraced his dark past, he's better known for his brute strength. And he does not hesitate to use it. When someone crosses paths with Bane, there's bound to be blood and someone will walk away quite literally broken and battered in the most brutal way possible. Take these 15 brutal moments, for example.
15 BANE BEATS JOKER
Bane is a formidable opponent for anyone. Much like Batman, Bane became the man he is by conquering his fears. There's no one in the Dark Knight's rogue's gallery better at it than Bane. Even the infamous Joker, whose harrowing grin strikes fear into many hearts, can never hope to rattle him. It was something he quickly realised when he encountered Bane when trying to get Batman's attention in "Detective Comics" #740 (written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Sergio Cariello, Mark Pennington and Pamela Rambo).
Before Joker can harm one of Lex Luthor's workers, Bane appears and proceeds to pummel the clown prince of crime, who unsurprisingly still musters up the strength to make jokes, none of which amuse Bane. It's bloody and painful to watch but also deeply satisfying. The Joker is a monster who deserves that beating. He's more of a monster than Bane could ever be. That's something you'll see as you scroll through this list.
14 HIS FIRST KILL
It all began when he was a child, a story we see in "Batman: Vengeance of Bane" #1 (written by Chuck Dixon, artwork by Graham Nolan, Eduardo Barreto and Adrienne Roy). While unborn, he was sentenced to a life in prison for the crimes of his father. Born in Pena Duro, Bane knew nothing else and had only a teddy bear to call friend. His mother died when he was six and very quickly, he found himself alone in a prison full of monsters. Immediately, he was set upon by a man who wanted to use him to gain information around the prison. It led to Bane, only six years old, falling over the railings and down three stories. He awoke from a coma and his first act was the murder of the man who intended to use him.
The depiction of Bane's first kill isn't graphic, but given the images of Bane with a shiv followed by his victim's bloodied nose ring and chain, we can imagine that he didn't show mercy. There isn't really a wrong answer when arguing whether or not he should have. It was cold-blooded, but there wasn't much room for mercy in Pena Duro.
13 HE BEAT UP A PRISON
We never find out what his mother named him, only that he took the name Bane shortly after his first kill in prison. He had become a ruthless killer, described by the warden in "Batman: Vengeance of Bane" #1 as "a bane to everything holy," before he threw the boy into a pit where Bane conquered fear. In doing so, he developed an indomitable rage that caused him to lash out at everything and everyone he could, leading to his eventual move back to isolation. Why? Because his body count had reached more than thirty men.
We're treated to the image of Bane, wounded but standing strong atop more than a dozen inmates who look to be either dead or dying. It's a gritty, bloody image but a powerful one depicting a man who rose above the horrors that might have broken anyone else. Yes, he's now an animalistic killer, but sometimes people don't have a choice but to become the animal.
12 BANE BREAKS CROC
A bestial quality tends to occur in people like Bane; people who are fighters. In the mess of blood and broken bones you'll often see Bane standing in, it's easy to forget that he isn't actually that primal. When he went up against an insane Killer Croc in "Batman" #489 (written by Doug Moench with artwork by Jim Aparo and Adrienne Roy), he was calm, he stepped in when it was apparent that Batman (not Bruce Wayne but Jean-Paul Valley) and Robin couldn't handle it. Eager to prove himself and work his way up to the Dark Knight, Bane approached and caught Croc's arm mid-strike, giving it a twist and breaking it before throwing him around and breaking the rest of Croc's body.
We can see how focused Bane is with all his strength. He moves when he has to, he doesn't rush in head first (which is something he does in a lot of depictions outside of the comics), instead he seems to analyze the situation (which is how he concluded that it wasn't the real Batman beneath the cowl) then strike. The brutality and damaged property were just icing.
11 BREAKING AZRAEL
While in that instance Bane didn't bother with Jean-Paul Valley, he did fight him when the latter was regular Azrael (as regular as a man infused with animal DNA could be) in "Azrael" #37 (written by Dennis O'Neil, illustrated by Roger Robinson, James Pascoe and Demetrius Bassoukos). Bane was on a rescue mission to free his old friend, Bird, and Azrael was in pursuit (a last minute decision) at Batman's request. After beating Bird, who was pumped up on venom, Azrael goes up against Bane, who does what he does best... and breaks him.
Azrael fights valiantly but Bane barely moves. Bane however, ensures that Azrael's cracked ribs shatter. As if that wasn't enough, Bane picks Azrael up and smashes him against a giant crate. Maybe it was because Azrael had harmed his friend, maybe it was to cement his reputation, but this was about as brutal a fight for Azrael as it could be without the latter dying.
10 AZRAEL, ROUND TWO
That wasn't the last time they would fight. Once more with Jean-Paul donning the cowl, Batman implements some pretty extreme technological improvements in order to beat Bane in "Batman" #500 (written by Doug Moench with art by Jim Aparo, Terry Austin and Adrienne Roy). The confrontation in front of the GCPD begins with Jean-Paul throwing razor-sharp batarangs, all three of which get fixed in Bane's arm. Bane gets a few good hits in but Jean-Paul is more than prepared, and despite his best efforts, Bane flees, bleeding and afraid.
Maybe it was because he'd been weakened prior to the fight, but this is one of the most brutal beat downs Bane has ever been on the business end of. Azrael, to the real Batman's constant disappointment, is ruthless and is not afraid to use brutal tactics to take down his opponents, or "fight fire with fire" as he put it. Bane got a taste of that and in the end is the one that ends up broken.
9 KILLED JUDOMASTER
There really is no limit to how brutal Bane can get. He's a destructive force, so it's only natural that he'd turn up in the battle of Metropolis in "Infinite Crisis" #7 (written by Geoff Johns with artwork by Phil Jimenez, George Perez and many, many more) when Lex Luthor amassed an army of supervillains in an effort to take the Earth and create his idea of paradise. Many fell in that battle and in a variety of brutal ways, and among the fallen was Judomaster. Hadley Jagger was a former army sergeant who mastered the martial art of Judo and used his skills to fight evil.
His end came when Bane grabbed Judomaster and broke his back. It's just one act in a sea of brutality during that battle, but it stands out because it's possibly the cruellest way for Bane to have ended a life. There was nothing to prove there; Judomaster had no superpowers and if Bane did have to kill, he could have done it in any other way, but he chose the most brutal. Because he is Bane.
8 FIGHT ON THE DOCKS
Many times, Batman has been forced to see Bane as nothing but an animal to be caged, which is pretty much what Bats told Bane in "Detective Comics" #701 (written by Chuck Dixon with artwork by Graham Nolan, Scott Hanna and Gloria Vasquez) when they fought in an epic battle at the docks after Batman blew up a casino to save Gotham from Ra's Al Ghul. At first, Bane seemed to be winning, pummelling Batman as only he can and almost succeeding in ending Batman's life. Batman is Batman, though, so of course he pulled through and beat Bane once again.
It was a brutal defeat for Bane, who seemed so sure of himself in the beginning, fighting for his betrothal, Ra's Al Ghul's daughter, Talia, and for his future controlling the League of Shadows. It wasn't to be, though luckily for him, before Batman could make good on his promise to lock Bane in a cell forever, the tides washed the unconscious villain away.
7 BREAKING NIGHTWING
"Batman: Bane" (written by Chuck Dixon with art from Rick Burchett, David Hornung and Demetrius Bassoukos) takes place just after that fight at the docks. Bane discovers that Ra's and Talia might have perished when their boat was destroyed. He gathers the remaining members of the League of Shadows and heads for Bludhaven, Nightwing's neck of the woods. Dick tries to subdue Bane and his new assassins, and while he does succeed in beating the latter, Bane makes short work of him by throwing him hard against the wall of his ship.
Eventually, Batman arrives to stop his plot but that brief but brutal moment just goes to show that there really aren't many (not counting those with god-like strength) who can stand up to Bane. Even those trained rigorously by Batman can't hope to defeat him as swiftly as the detective. That lesson on Bane's ship is one Nightwing will not forget.
6 BREAKING BAD
Batman and Bane have fought more than just a couple of times and their fight in "Detective Comics" #736 (written by Larry Hama with art by Mike Deodato Jr., Sean Parsons and Pamela Rambo) was one of the most exciting and thought-provoking. As they try to beat each other senseless, Batman and Bane argue whether or not Bane is evil by choice or simply a product of his environment. The fight begins with them brawling in the sewers and shockingly ends with Batman letting Bane get away (he had a good reason!), but not before having his face punched in and his suit torn from the punches Bane threw.
What's incredible about this fight is that Bane engaged the Bat without the help of venom. It's clear that it's not the venom that gives Bane his courage, willpower and sheer ferocity, though in his weakened state, he would have lost to Batman if not for a bomb he'd placed to get the detective off his back.
5 NEW 52 DEBUT
With DC's "New 52" relaunch, Bane was re-introduced in "Batman: The Dark Knight" #6 (written by Paul Jenkins and Joe Harris, illustrated by David Finch, Richard Friend and Jeromy Cox), revealing himself to be one of the creators of a fear-toxin/venom mix Batman is investigating. Bursting out from behind the Dark Knight, Bane immediately begins the fight, giving Batman a thrashing, throwing him against trees, boulders and finally, into a body of water. Batman is left red and blue and red again.
As far as debuts go, Bane's entrance in the "New 52" was certainly one of the most explosive and the most brutal. Although it doesn't do his intelligence much justice, it does succeed in reminding us once again that Bane is one of the only villains who can break the Batman. The artwork alone really captures the intensity of each hit and the rage on Bane's masked face. If brutality is what you're looking for, you'll find it in this issue.
4 THE DARK KNIGHT BREAKS
Christopher Nolan's 2012 "The Dark Knight Rises" marks just the second time Bane has been seen in film. The film adapts a lot of Bane's origin as told in "Batman: Vengeance of Bane" as well as his association with the League of Shadows. He's able to conquer Gotham and unleash hell, but first, he takes out its watchful protector. When Batman finds Bane, he already knows the Dark Knight's secret identity and seems to know every move Batman is going to make. The Dark Knight, whose allies are fear and shadow, is simply no match for Bane, who, like his comic book counterpart, has long since conquered both.
The fight, while completely one-sided, lasts a while and ends with Batman broken in every way someone can be broken. That's what Bane does and that's who Bane is. His savagery in the fight showed us that with every raw, powerful moment and line.
3 BANE BREAKS CATMAN
Though he has called himself the king in the past and is clearly a match for anyone alone, Bane isn't averse to teaming up with people as he did when he joined the Secret Six. You can probably imagine what working with Bane would be like. A simple conversation isn't what it sounds like it would be. In "Secret Six" #35 (written by Gail Simone with artwork by Jim Calafiore and John Kalisz), Catman and Bane have a small discussion in the woods about Bane's pursuit of Batman and who really came out of it broken.
While they're talking, Catman throws every punch he can at Bane, because he can. Bane doesn't seem at all bothered by them, but ends the conversation by almost breaking Catman's hand. That one is on Catman for thinking he could just strike someone like Bane and walk away unscathed. Still, seeing as how they're just talking for the most part, we had to mention this as being one of Bane's most brutal conversations ever.
2 THUNDER AND LIGHTNING
Even in minor appearances, we can always find Bane in some act of brutality. "Salvation Run" #6 (written by Matthew Sturges, illustrated by Sean Chen, Walden Wong and John Kalisz), we find him in the role of a guard, watching over a captive Martian Manhunter for Lex Luthor. The duo, Thunder and Lightning, try to rescue him and are caught by Bane, who doesn't hesitate to start inflicting his own cruel justice on the two former Titans. Bane kicks Thunder against Martian Manhunter's fiery cage, knocking him out before he beats Lightning bloody, despite his electrifying powers.
It's a particularly brutal moment because even after the brothers were defeated, Bane seemed to keep going at it until Luther told him that it would be best to keep them alive. Bane was ready to kill the two and it wasn't because they'd done anything wrong or because he was trying to prove anything, but because he thought they weren't good (or bad) enough.
1 BREAKING THE BAT
Of course, the most brutal moment of all, the moment he's most known for, the moment he keeps bragging about, is when Bane famously succeeded in doing what no other villain could do: he broke Batman. It was "Batman" #497 (written by Doug Moench, illustrated by Jim Aparo, Dick Giordano and Adrienne Roy), beginning with Bane entering Wayne Manor, knowing full well who resided there, to Bruce's horror. It was the moment Bane claims he had been waiting for since escaping the prison in which he was born; the moment he'd been dreaming about. Dreams do come true after all!
Even when Bane realizes that Bruce isn't exactly at his best, he doesn't relent. He keeps the punches and kicks coming until finally he lifted Batman above his head and brought him down across his knee, breaking Batman's spine. There was no honor in that fight -- Bane had clearly stopped trying to show that he could conquer fear -- he was just fighting because that's what he does. Maybe in the end, that's all he does and all he is. That's why this was such a brutal moment. It was pure violence.
What was your favorite Bane moment? Let us know in the comments!