Batman #23.4 – Bane #1 review

The architect behind the upcoming Arkham War event, Peter J. Tomasi, gives us his last Villain book of the month and it’s about one of the most popular Batman villains of our time, Bane. Another cool thing about this issue is that it’s illustrated by Bane’s original co-creator, Graham Nolan. But is it actually a worthwhile read or is it just another filler issue like far too many other Villains Month books?

Cutting directly to the chase: it’s filler. Now, I imagine that readers who are just getting into comics are loving every minute of Villains Month. It must be incredible to hear the backstory behind these colorful characters for the very first time. But since I review like 6+ Batman comics a week 52 weeks a year, well, I fall pretty far away from that category and so I give Bane #1 “Dark Destiny” a shrug and a “It’s okay, I guess.”

For one, it’s cool to see Graham Nolan drawing Bane again. I grew up reading pretty much every Batman/Detective comic illustrated by either Nolan or Norm Breyfogle so anytime I see them pencil the bat again I’m overwhelmed with nostalgia. So the artwork gets a thumbs up from me simply because it taps into something that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Speaking of things that feel fuzzy, though, one thing I definitely remember about Graham Nolan’s Bane is that the man had hairy arms. Hair arms and shoulders! When Graham Nolan drew an issue of Talon just a few months ago Bane had the hairy look back again, too but not so much here. What happened? Why is the Graham Nolan Bane hairless now?

Anyway, onto the story side of things, if you read last month’s Talon then you know that Bane was loading up his ships with weaponry and soldiers ready to sack Gotham. Then, just as he was about to board, he was approached by The Outsider, who gave Bane an offer to join the Secret Society plus that commemorative coin (are they making these things or did they just bring a giant sack of them on the BOOM TUBE journey over to our dimension?). In Bane #1, we see our villain still preparing to board, boarding, and riding on the boat. While he’s traveling, the origin of Bane is summed up in a brief montage that covers the basic points which have all gone unchanged since the character’s inception. However, I did hate the panel depicting how hard Bane’s childhood in prison was. Want to know why? Because it’s an image of a boy… in a prison cell… fighting crabs. Crustaceans. This is how we’re showcasing the hardships of Bane’s horrific childhood? He had to contend with a barrage of crabs? What the hell is that about? Was that in Tomasi’s script or was that Nolan’s idea? Either way, it’s terrible. Nobody could think of a better way to illustrate depressing childhood in prison other than– “He had to deal with crabs in his jail cell all the time and they were all pinchy… and aggressive.”

The other laughable Bane moment to happen in this issue is on the opening pages where, for some reason, Bane is killing his henchmen (something Tomasi has Bane do quite a bit and it never makes a whole lot of sense– you’d think Bane would want to have more soldiers what with the big invasion coming up). It’s an absolutely brutal scene that should’ve come off as intimidating, but instead we witness Bane shouting Newton’s laws of motion while tossing gym equipment and… it’s definitely not Bane’s coolest moment.

But the rest of the issue, for the most part is fine, but forgettable.It’s an origin recap and a recap of Bane’s plan for Gotham, which if you’ve read Scarecrow #1 or any of the recent issues of Talon, you already know all of this. Much like the way he was depicted in The Dark Knight Rises, Tomasi’s Bane loves to give speeches and that’s how we have the exposition given to us. However, it’s all of the upcoming Arkham War set-up and references to Forever Evil that will likely be viewed as the biggest flaw by many. If you’re dead-set on having the Villains Month books correlate properly with Forever Evil #1 then you’re going to be aggravated.

The timeline is way off. In Forever Evil #1, the world’s electronics have already featured the “This World Is Ours” message long before the moon was placed in front of the sun, but here the two actions happen simultaneously. All of the extra villains who make a cameo in this comic would als have been at the fallen Justice League watchtower at that same time… including Bane, but here Bane is still on the boat at the time of the eclipse.

Final note: I think this might be my least favorite of all the covers I’ve seen from the Batman villains. Does the perspective seem off to anyone else? Bane’s eyes and angle of his face just don’t seem to line up right to me. And if Bane really was supposed to be looking down in this picture… what’s he doing exactly? It’s not a very villainous pose– he looks like he’s holding out his hand as if to ask for my loose change.

Recommended If…

  • You read the last issue of Talon (but it’s definitely not a requirement, this is 100% new reader friendly like all the other Villain books except maybe Scarecrow #1)
  • You think it’s cool to see Bane’s original co-creator draw the character again (I do)
  • You don’t have a problem with all the continuity errors between this and Forever Evil #1 (there are quite a few)
  • You don’t know anything about Bane beyond what you saw in The Dark Knight Rises


It’s an alright read if you’re unfamiliar with the character, but I think most Batman fans will give this issue a rather lukewarm reception. Those who are heavily into continuity will find the numerous discrepancies between Bane #1 and Forever Evil #1 to be incredibly frustrating. Like many Villains month books, it’s a good time for those who are just meeting these characters for the first time, but longtime fans will likely shrug Bane #1 off as a filler episode.

SCORE: 5/10