We now start getting into the Knightfall Saga proper with the introduction of Bane.
Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1
Written by Chuck Dixon
Pencils by Graham Nolan
Inks by Eduardo Barret
Colors by Adrienne Roy
Letters by Bill Oakley
Edited by Scott Peterson & Denny O’Neil
We open in Santa Prisca, several years prior, with an attempted coup inspired by the uprising in Cuba – but one that failed. We’re introduced to our point of view character – “Zombie” – who was sentenced to Pena Duro for 30 years, and is working in the prison infirmary. Because he’s assigned to the infirmary, he gets to see Bane and his mother as Bane is a child. Bane’s mother was sentenced as an accessory to her husband’s actions in the uprising, and Bane as a male child, is convicted for the crimes of his father, who he never knew.
Zombie watches over them until Bane’s mother dies and Bain, now 6 years old, is moved to the general population – where Zombie, for reasons that are unexplained, can’t help them. In the general population he’s protected by a prisoner named Trogg, as not well, as Bane falls from a high level of the prison – and while in a coma half-hallucinates and half-dreams his future self.
After recovering from his coma, Bane kills an inmate who tormented him on his first night in the prison and taunts the Warden, causing him to be put in Solitary for 10 years. When Bane emerges, he is something of a hero to the rest of the prisoners.
Bane then meets another inmate, Bird. Bird is originally from Gotham and has a sympathetic, possibly slightly supernatural, relationship with birds. Bird teaches Bane how to read, and teaches him about Gotham. With the ability to read, Bane becomes a polyglot and polymath. Through all of this, Bane also learns of Batman.
It’s around this time Junta who runs Santa Prisca starts experimenting on prisoners with Venom. Bane survives the early doses of the drug, along with surgical implants to put it directly into his brain. During this, at Bane’s behest, Zombie learns how to reproduce the drug.
Bane then escapes by suppressing his vitals so he’s mistaken for dead, so he gets tossed out for the sharks. Bane then kills the sharks, brakes into the prison and holds the warden hostage for a helicopter that he, Trogg, Bird, and Zombie can use to go to the US and Gotham.
At this point Bane and his companions prepare his mask and injector, and now Bane, as we know him, is complete. We could probably stop here, but the story goes on a little longer to see the start of Bane’s plan.
They begin by visiting Jimmy “The Nose” – a gangster who sold out Bird. They kill him, and as we learn after the fact from Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya, with particular brutality. This brings out Gordon – and Batman.
Bane and his colleagues see Batman approach, the followers want to take Batman down now, but Bane wants to wait.
Batman meets Gordon, who suspects the Manklin brothers, as does Batman. Batman goes to shake them down, and Bane follows. Batman realizes that he is being followed, but not by who, and can’t get a glimpse of Bane.
Batman ultimately finds the Manklins, and takes them down while Bane takes down others – and while Batman refrains from using deadly force like normal (even saving one from being knocked off a ledge to his death), Bane does kill, even murdering some who Batman spared. Finally, Bane makes himself known to Batman. They don’t fight, just talk, and Bane tells Batman that he will make him scream his name, but doesn’t tell him his name.
The GCPD bursts in, but Batman and Bane are both gone, leaving the unconscious but living (Batman’s handiwork), and the dead (Bane’s). Montoya suspects Batman is responsible for the deaths – and has finally crossed that line, but Bullock isn’t so sure.
Bane’s followers ask him why he let Batman get away – but that is not Bane’s goal. Not yet. Bane must understand Gotham to rule it. Once he groks (my words, not Bane’s) Batman, he will then know Gotham and finally, Gotham will be his.
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