Waiting for the Trade: Batman vs. Bane double comic & movie review

Waiting for the Trade
By Bill Miller
Batman: Knightfall – part 1 : Broken Bat
by Doug Moench and Chuck Dixon.
collects Batman 491-497 and Detective Comics 659-663.
Why I Bought This: I actually bought this 20 years ago when it was relatively new. I think it was mandatory in the 90s to own both this and Death of Superman. I found it by accident while cleaning about three months ago, and decided to reread it before the movie came out. Finished with about a week to spare, I got busy with work and didn’t have time for a review until now.
The Plot: Bane comes to Gotham and releases the inmates in Arkham Asylum. Batman has to fight his way through them over several days. And when Batman is exhausted, Bane attacks and defeats him.

Chapter 1 – Bane frees the inmates at Arkham. Batman and the police fail to stop Joker and the rest of the more dangerous inmates from escaping.
Chapter 2 – The Mad Hatter possesses some generic thug type looneys and Film Freak. He sends Film Freak to spy on Bane, who discovers and kills him. Batman crashes the Hatter’s tea party and defeats him.
Chapter 3 – the Ventriliquist teams up with an over-sized thug named Amygdala and begins looking for his favorite puppet. Batman defeats the over-sized thug while Ventriloquist escapes. Robin faces a henchman of Bane’s named Falconer and loses, but the villain retreats instead of capturing him as part of Bane’s larger plan.
Chapter 4 – A knife-wielding psycho takes a girls school hostage. Batman defeats him, although a few cops and students die first.
Chapter 5 – Killer Croc is seeking revenge on Bane, who broke his arm in some prior book. Robin encounters Bane and is quickly defeated.  When Killer Croc attacks. All three are washed away into a flooding sewer.
Chapter 6 – Robin saves himself. Joker teams up with someone named Stirk, who apparently has fear powers. At Joker’s behest Stirk attacks Comm. Gordon but Batman saves him. Joker decides to team with Scarecrow instead and the two of them kidnap the mayor.
Chapter 7 – Firefly is setting things on fire, and has apparently upgraded his costume to whatever he used to have to a flying armor suit with a flamethrower. Batman fights him but he escapes, while Robin looks for clues in Firefly’s past. Batman fights him again and the two fall into a pit of fire.
Chapter 8 – Batman saves himself but takes some bruises and Firefly escapes again. Poison Ivy kidnaps Gotham’s elite (including Bruce Wayne and Luscius Fox), while Joker uses the mayor to lure the police into a trap. Bruce changes to Batman and defeats Ivy and her thugs. Joker’s trap blows up killing several cops.
Chapter 9 – Riddler’s thugs abandon him because he won’t go forward with heist since the news is so busy with the other psychos they are not reporting on his riddles. Batman fights Firefly in a zoo, while Robin takes on Riddler in a TV studio. The heroes win both fights but Batman is more exhausted than ever.
Chapter 10 – Batman saves cops from another of Joker’s traps. He takes a whiff of Scarecrow’s fear gas, which causes him to flashback to the death of the second Robin pushing Batman into an enraged state and he severely beats Joker until Scarecrow fires a bazooka causing another flooded tunnel.
Chapter 11 – Batman saves the mayor from the flood. He then takes on Bane’s three thugs and wins before Bane confronts him at Wayne Manor.
Chapter 12 – Batman is out on his feet before the fight begins, whereas Bane has super strength. He pummels Batman effortlessly and then breaks his back.
Critical Thoughts: This really isn’t a very good story to be honest despite its fame at the time. It’s mostly just a very straightforward series of fights, and to be honest I’ve seen better fight scenes frequently and often.
Also Bane has no real motivations. He just shows up in Gotham wanting to take down Batman for reasons that are never elaborated on in this trade. He doesn’t even know the Bruce Wayne connection until half-way through the story (and he discovers Batman’s secret ridiculously easily considering how long Batman’s A-list foes and Gotham’s organized crime have failed to turn anything up). In a lot of ways this story is a clear example of creating an event first and a story to get there second. I suppose the same thing could be said of Death of Superman (which preceded and obviously influenced this) as Doomsday shows up out of nowhere with no real motivations for an extended fight scene in that one too but I’d at least argue that fight scene was better paced. Plus that story had the novelty of coming out first and really the surprise of anything being able to hurt Superman carried it better than this. (Plus “Reign of the Supermen” is a tremendous follow-up story, whereas Azrael taking on the mantle of the Bat and failing is nothing Marvel fans hadn’t seen 5-years earlier with “Cap No More” and to a lesser extent in Thor and Iron Man as well).  
Grade D+ – Batman is a rightly given credit for having a great rogue’s gallery so seeing several of his foes in this story stops it from being terrible. For a character I never heard of, I actually found the Firefly stuff the best part of this story. Riddler’s chapter is also a nice look into his motivations. But overall reading this again did little for me.
Bonus movie review: Speaking of doing little for me, we have Dark Knight Rises. I saw this opening weekend but didn’t bother to review it until now because it borders between meh and truly terrible so much that I wasn’t motivated to write about it. At this point my opinion leans closer to this being another failed third superhero movie much in the same vein of Spider-man 3, X-men 3 and Superman III.
The only thing I really liked about it was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Otherwise Bane is just as flat and uninteresting in this as he is in the comics. I find little of what happens once he conquers Gotham to be credible, and I find the nuclear bomb time limit to be completely arbitrary so that Bruce can recover from his injuries. The back-breaker scene is also pretty flat compared to the comic book version. I also found the political imagery downright bizarre and distracting. Whatever Nolan was going for on that front fails completely.
Furthermore I don’t buy for 10 seconds that there has been no crime in Gotham for 8 years or that Batman/Bruce would fall into utter despair for that long a period of time over the death of some chick. Hell I think Batman only suits up three times in this entire film (once to fight Catwoman and test the Batwing, once to lose to Bane and for the finale.) So yea, far and away the weakest of the three superhero films this summer and probably the second worst Batman film ever made after Batman 4 with Mr. Freeze. Grade D.