With Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises featuring Bane as the major villain, you can expect to see a flurry of Bane stories reprinted in graphic novel format. Bane is famous in the Batman comics for having come closest to destroying the Caped Crusader, in a storyline that saw Bane snapping Batman’s spine over his knee, as if the superhero were nothing more than a twig. Dark, brooding, violent, and with a parent-less back-story that’s similar but ultimately far harsher than Bruce Wayne’s, Bane is a worthy adversary to Batman.
Interestingly, this introduction to Bane mentions the back-snapping incident but doesn’t carry the actual story. Instead it contains two key character studies: Bane’s brutal origin story; and another in which Bane meets Ra’s Al Ghul and falls in love with his beautiful but deadly daughter Talia.
In these stories we see Bane stripped back and constructed from scratch. His origin shows how he was left to rot in a hole in the ground, serving a life sentence from birth for the crimes of his father. Toughened to extraordinary levels, then taken away to test a military drug called Venom – designed to send its users into a berserk rage – Bane’s entire life is constructed around pain and suffering.
In the second story he shows intelligence and cunning beyond his bulky appearance, which takes Ghul by surprise. Ban manages to use Ghul’s low expectations to full advantage, proving that he isn’t all brawn and no brain.
If your initial thought on hearing Bane was to be the lead antagonist in the movie was “who?”, then this book will help explain why Nolan chose him over quirkier but more famous characters like the Penguin or the Riddler. Bane is on a different level, operating more plausibly in Nolan’s psychotic, real-world adaptation. With super-powers administered by drugs and training rather than magic or powerful alien forces, Bane keeps the action on a gritty, down-to-earth footing. And while we only see passing mention of the famous back-breaking incident, it’s not sorely missed, given the level of adrenaline-pumping action generated without it.