Knightfall is one of those definitive Batman event stories, the impact of which resonated around the DC Comics universe. For the first time in his long history, Bruce Wayne passed his cowl on to another. This gave the comic’s writers an opportunity to create a tougher, darker Batman, complete with new costume, who could explore opportunities beyond Wayne’s strict moral code.
This first volume is enormous, at over 600 pages. In it, we witness Bane’s journey to Gotham City, some of which was covered in the recently published Batman Versus Bane. His plan to defeat Batman is simple: release all Batman’s enemies from Arkham Asylum in one go, and observe Batman in action. Learn his weaknesses, use his enemies to wear him down, then destroy him and take over the city.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the book is how it’s set up. I suspect that it probably worked better as an ongoing monthly comic, with Batman’s battles to clean up Gotham fitting neatly into self-contained episodes. When collected together like this, it feels choppy and over-manipulated.
There really isn’t much of a plot beyond the obvious fall and rise, and it feels strung out. Bane’s methodical destruction of Bruce Wayne may have been innovative at the time it came out, but in retrospect there’s little of substance to engage the reader in book form. The art is of its time too, and uses an unsophisticated palette that looks flat next to today’s comics.