Knightfall is one of Batman’s most famous storylines. DC sought to change its comics in the early 90s, and many characters saw utter overhauls or elimination including Green Lantern Hal Jordan (Emerald Twilight) and Superman (The Death of Superman). Knightfall focuses on a villain called Bane as he pursued his lifelong goal: defeat Batman and take complete control of Gotham City. Though The Dark Knight Rises took cues from this arc there were still numerous great plot threads within the comics.
Bane’s backstory serves as Knightfall‘s introduction: born to a mother in an island prison, the young Bane lived life in “Hell” where he quickly became a murderer in order to survive. While in jail, Bane meets an American criminal with the alias Bird who comes from Gotham City. Bird’s tales of Gotham inspire Bane to seek out the city upon his escape from prison. Bane swears he will wrest control of the city from Batman, but decides against attacking the Dark Knight head on. Instead, Bane releases all of Batman’s enemies from Arkham Asylum and sends his minions to watch these madmen slowly wear down the Caped Crusader. When the time is right Bane strikes and the results will leave Bruce Wayne broken. But, the Mantle of the Bat cannot stay vacant, and another steps up to become Batman, a man who may indeed be even deadlier than the villains he faces.
Given the length and amount of titles comprising Knightfall it is unsurprising that multiple writers worked together on this story. Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench worked on different issues of this story to create the beautiful whole. I think both are adept writers, and often I’d forget there’d be a switch between issues which speaks to how seamlessly they worked. The story is pretty cool, especially since we get to see Batman tackle numerous classics from his rogues gallery from Killer Croc to Scarecrow to Ventriloquist. There were a few times the dialogue came off as cheesy or dated, but this was rare enough that it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the comics.
Many artists came together on Knightfall. Listing them all would fill unnecessary space, but this is fine given one of their best qualities: seamless transitions. Like the writing, the multitude of artists manage to use similar enough styles that there’s never a wild jump between one issue and the next even if a new penciller or inker has taken the reigns. That said, I’m not a huge fan of the art: it’s the typical 90s style comic art which I find dated. The character designs are fairly good, but given the quality of comics art in the late 1990s and beyond I just can’t extol the work here. I’d even say that 70s comic art, such as that found in Green Lantern/Green Arrow, is superior. I also don’t like the new Batman outfit Jean-Paul Valley dons towards the volume’s end: it looks ridiculous and feels like a gimmick to sell toys rather than a necessary reinvention. I do, however, think the covers were amazingly drawn and wish that quality of art could have been seen throughout.
Knightfall Volume 1 is a spectacular Batman story. It draws you in and surprises you time and again, showcasing just how far Batman can go before breaking. This comic is a must-read for any Batman fan. The new paperback edition is a great deal, too, including BATMAN: VENGEANCE OF BANE SPECIAL #1, BATMAN #491-500, DETECTIVE COMICS #659-666, SHOWCASE ’93 #7 and 8, and BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #16-18. At only $30, this collection of over 600 pages of classic comic goodness can’t be overlooked.
– Exceptional story showing Batman’s limits and showcasing his major villains
– Awesome cover art
-Seamless transitions for both writing and art despite creative team shifts between issues
– Art isn’t great
– Dialogue occasionally cheesy
-Jean-Paul Valley’s Batman costume is gaudy and unnecessary
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He thinks Bruce Wayne better stay away from gold diggers or the Bat might get “broke” again.
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