SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #50 by Tom King, Mikel Janín, June Chung, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Trish Mulvihill, Becky Cloonan, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Frank Miller, Alex Sinclair, Lee Bermejo, Neal Adams, Hi-Fi, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts, Rafael Albuquerque, Andy Kubert, Tom Sale, Jose Villarrubia, Paul Pope, Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Ty Templeton, Keiren Smith, Joëlle Jones, David Finch, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Greg Capullo, FCO Plascencia, Lee Weeks and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
As one of the most iconic superheroes in the history of comic books, Batman has a long track record of absolute classic stories to his name and as a result, creators often want to revisit the worlds of those stories for a sequel, whether a direct follow-up or something that carries on the spirit of the original story.
Whether it's creators returning to their own work like Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale on The Long Halloween’s follow-up Dark Victory and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns trilogy, or the next generation of creators building off what came before such as how Scott Snyder, Jock and Francesco Fracavilla’s “The Black Mirror” is in many ways a follow-up to “Batman: Year One”, the allure of the sequel is hard to deny.
One of the most overlooked classic Batman stories is the early-nineties classic “Knightfall,” which gave the world Bane, the masked manipulator who tore through Batman like he was nothing and broke him over his knee. “Knightfall” is often lumped in with stories like “The Death of Superman” or “Emerald Twilight” as comics with shock value for shock value’s sake and little else, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is "Knightfall" one Batman’s most iconic stories, it introduced a new kind of enemy for The Caped Crusader and a new kind of story; one where he fails.
This week’s Batman #50 reveals that in many ways, Tom King’s epic run on the titular Batman series is a spiritual sequel to “Knightfall” only this time Bane is smarter and more ruthless than ever.
The Knight’s Fall
When you think of "Knightfall," you probably think of the iconic panel of Bane bringing Batman down across his knee, breaking his back and leaving The Dark Knight truly humbled and defeated, and it’s a great moment for sure. However, "Knightfall" is so much more than that one moment, and the context of how both Bane and Batman both got to that scene is so important to understanding how it happened and the importance of it in the larger scheme of the Batman stories of the early-nineties.
Bane was created by Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench and Graham Nolan, first appearing in 1993’s The Vengeance of Bane #1 by Dixon and Nolan. The Vengeance of Bane established everything about the character that we now know as so iconic; he was born on the South American island Santa Prisca, to a mother imprisoned in the brutal Peña Duro prison facility. His mother died when he was six years old, leaving him alone with the world’s most hardened criminals, eventually becoming the most feared of them all.
Subjected to the dangerous Venom trials, he faked his own death to escape the prison and set out to establish his name and legacy in the world at large just has he had done in the prison which stole his childhood and adolescence. It ends with a present day sequence of Bane eyeing up Batman and deciding he isn’t ready yet, but he will be back to break the Bat as soon as he is.