I’m concluding my look at the early adventures of the Bat-villain Bane, who will soon set the screen on fire when he appears in The Dark Knight Rises under the thespian guidance of Tom Hardy.
Batman: Bane of the Demon is a four-issue mini-series from 1998. It serves as a character bridge that prepares Bane for his major supporting role in the Ra’s al Ghul focused Batman: Legacy. The mini is again handled by the Vengeance of Bane creative team of writer Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan and Eduardo Barreto.
Fresh from kicking his reliance on the Venom drug, Bane pops back to his Caribbean childhood hellhole prison of Santa Prisca to have a chat with an elderly monk. As covered in my previous post, Bane’s father was a revolutionary who failed to overthrow the reigning regime, and in his absence, his punishment was inherited by the unborn son. Bane knew his mother until she died when he was six, but he’s never known much about his father other than he was a foreigner. The monk is able to list four possible men who were in Santa Prisca at the time of his conception and Bane is determined to discover this missing piece of his own identity.
Bane thanks the old monk for this information by throwing him out of a high monastery window. This becomes an unhealthy pattern of behavior for Bane in this mini-series: find a source of knowledge, interrogate source of knowledge, eliminate source of knowledge, repeat. It happens so many times in the four issues that it’s almost comical. I’d recommend running for your life if Bane ever asks you the time, or if the special is any good today.
Bane goes on quite a tear investigating option one, if his dad is a mysterious Swiss gentleman who belongs to a mysterious order which is pretty un-mysterious to anyone who’s ever read an Azrael comic. His investigation is sidetracked when his latest target within the Order of St Dumas is attacked by a second group of killers led by Talia al Ghul.
[Interesting how this “following parental leads” plot echoes the plight of Jason Todd in A Death in the Family -- ed.]
This portrayal of Talia paints her as one very sick puppy. She takes an interest in Bane and takes him back to meet her father. The assassins under her command all commit suicide at her request, simply to make the return journey to her father’s base less crowded! When Bane reciprocates her initial attraction to him, they have a quick dalliance and then she decides it’s frosty time. I’m not sure if he was a dud in the sack or if she simply likes her men tall, dark and unattainable. Bane should have taken a leaf from Bruce’s book with Talia -- treat her mean, keep her keen.
Ra’s is interested in having Bane around as at least a new henchman or at best a suitable son-in-law. He and Talia have several increasingly silly conversations in obscure languages in clear earshot of Bane where they discuss their plans to manipulate him and to find the Wheel of Plagues (as seen in Batman: Contagion) which will launch their latest depopulation plans.
This series lacks the gravitas of the Vengeance of Bane specials and does not stand up well without the context of the Batman: Legacy story it leads into. While I was entertained by the ruthlessness of Bane in the series, he ultimately forgets about the search for his father to become involved in Ra’s latest hare-brained scheme.
There is a post-Legacy footnote story that appeared in a prestige format one-shot titled Batman: Bane. This was released to cash in on the character’s minor appearance in the uh, ahem, critically acclaimed and universally, um, beloved Batman and Robin movie (one of four matching one-shots that included Poison Ivy, Batgirl and Mr Freeze). This book shows Bane on a literally suicidal collision course with Gotham City as he commandeers a floating nuclear powered drilling platform. The story by Dixon is entertaining enough, but by this point a lot of the shine is coming off this villain. He no longer seems to be a major threat when Batman has defeated him so readily. But, like every good Bat-villain, Bane escapes to trouble Batman some more in the future. The last page shows him being washed out to sea on debris and remembering that he was doing something before he bumped into those crazy al Ghul’s – “Father!!!” he screams into the elements.
After a pivotal role in Batman: No Man’s Land, there are further significant Bane stories in Batman: Gotham Knights #33-36 and #47-49, but by then Chuck Dixon was off the Bat-wagon and his sometime co-writer Scott Beatty took the reins. Bane’s paternal mysteries are solved at that point, connecting him to another Chuck Dixon creation. I’ll leave you to hunt those down for yourselves if you’re still salivating for the taste of Bane.
[News to me! Now I will have to hunt these down -- ed.]
Bane is currently a member of the Secret Six and his character is in safe hands with Gail Simone. Under her pen, the character has been as well-written as he has been since Chuck Dixon’s early days. Gail has entertainingly played up his social awkwardness based on his highly unusual upbringing.
Thanks for listening everyone. I have many more books I’d like to feature, but I’m always happy to hear your suggestions for future Uncollected Editions.
[UPDATE: About a year later, DC collected Bane of the Demon in the Batman Versus Bane collection, though not some of the other Bane stories that Paul wrote about.]