By Marty Mulrooney
Batman Versus Bane collects Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1, Batman: Bane of the Demon #1-4, and three two-page origin stories taken from 52 #46 and Countdown #4 and 7. With Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film The Dark Knight Rises fast approaching, Titan Books offers fans both old and new alike the chance to delve into the history of one of Batman’s most dangerous adversaries, Bane.
Batman Versus Bane is comprised of two main stories. The first is Vengeance of Bane, which was originally published in January 1993 and introduced the world and comic book fans everywhere to the character of Bane. Before he is even born, Bane is charged with the crimes of his father in the Caribbean Republic of Santa Prisca and placed in a prison known as Pena Duro – The Hard Stone.
Following the death of his mother, he is brought up in an environment of cruelty and violence, shaping his destiny forever. After killing a man, he is thrown in a pit and left there for over four thousand days (10 years). Refusing to die, he grows stronger both mentally and physically.
Once released back into the prison, his transformation into a fearsome, almost primal man does not go unnoticed. In a lab building next to the prison, the army are experimenting on unwilling test subjects with a drug called Venom. Bane is selected, but despite the test subjects before him dying, he survives…
The second story featured is Bane of the Demon, a four issue mini-series that originally ran between March and June 1998. It shows Bane after his escape from prison, travelling to each corner of the world in search of his father. Those he questions are murdered soon after.
He eventually crosses paths with the assassin Ra’s al Ghul and his daughter, Talia. An uneasy alliance is formed, but Bane has no desire to take orders. He plots to take Talia as his lover and steal the secret of eternal life from right underneath her father’s nose.
The artwork in both Batman: Vengeance of Bane and Batman: Bane of the Demon is fantastic – it’s a pleasure to see how Graham Nolan’s artwork evolved between 1993 and 1998. Chuck Dixon (one of Bane’s co-creators along with Doug Moench and Graham Nolan) writes believable dialogue and engaging plots – Bane may not be as popular as The Joker, but he’s just as deadly.
Many modern-day Batman fans will only know him as a drug-enhanced monster, so it’s great to go back to his origins and see the man behind the mask. It certainly bodes well for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming take on the character in the film The Dark Knight Rises, where he will be played by actor Tom Hardy.
The biggest letdown of Batman Versus Bane isn’t the quality of the comics contained within, but rather the fact that the collection’s title and its marketing are quite deceptive. Batman only features briefly at the end of Vengeance of Bane and neither character comes into any meaningful contact with the other.
Weighing in at a slim 144 pages, one can’t help but question why further Bane-related comics – such as Batman #497, where Bane breaks Batman’s back – weren’t included. The two main stories also feel unfinished – again, this could have been easily solved with a more extensive collection. Batman Versus Bane offers an enjoyable enough read, but fails to do what it says on the tin and somewhat disappoints as a result.
7 OUT OF 10