“A community cowers behind locked doors. I have created darkness that chills their very souls. I have made a city injured to its own horrors know fear. Can you feel it? And it has only just begun.”
— Chuck Dixon, Batman: Knightfall (Part 1: Broken Bat)
If you’ve seen The Dark Knight Rises, then know that what you see here is one of the many comics that inspired some of the great scenes that Christopher Nolan translated onto the big screen. As much as this volume is known as an absolute classic in Batman’s universe, it however struggles to survive the test of time. Published in the 90s, written by both Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench, illustrated by Jim Aparo, Jim Balent, Norm Breyfogle and Graham Nolan, Knightfall is only the first part of a trilogy, and essentially the most memorable story arc. The great writers behind this volume introduces readers to Bane and his ultimate plan to take control of Gotham by first getting rid of the one and only Batman. While Bane manipulates the whole orchestra and devises a painful and exhausting trial for Batman, the story essentially leads to the one and only highlight hinted in the title of the volume. Is Bane’s plan truly flawless? Will he be able to take down the Dark Knight? The crusader that no other villain has yet been able to put an end to?
Bane makes sure to drain out every single inch of energy of his target before he gets his own hands dirty. If that isn’t cruel, I don’t know what it; that’s a lie, I can think of a billion things that are quite sadistic, mind you. Essentially, the story really begins when we find out that Bane plans on making a giant hole in Arkham Asylum in order to unleash every criminal that Batman had put behind bars to this date. Talk about a nasty leakage to your favorite aquarium. If having a vast and notorious cast of villains running freely and cooking up their own personal flavor of a plan to bring down the Bats isn’t something to worry about, you’re wrong. The whole volume showcases countless villains, whether its the Film Freak, the Mad Hatter or the Joker himself. You’ll quickly realize that each one of them will make sure to drain a little something out of the Caped Crusader before the grand finale. Repetitive in nature, the story can easily bore a person that sees this as a déjà vu of Batman bringing down villains once again. Knightfall isn’t exactly about digging deep into the villain’s psyches and discovering a goldmine in their personalities, something that would blow the minds of fans. Knightfall is about putting Batman to the test without ever giving him the chance to breathe. It’s a story that creates the perfect nightmare for the Caped Crusader. The one scenario where Batman has to deal with every crazy lunatic, one after the other, instead of being able to stand on his gargoyles preying on a villain who’s looking for a high.
The artwork is a throwback to the era of comics right before the more accustomed modern artwork we see nowadays. I honestly didn’t find it disturbing or lackluster, I actually swallowed it up fairly easily and was able to just enjoy the story afoot. I thought the characters were pretty well penciled and were done justice in the aesthetic department. Of course, with the plot direction that Knightfall has, the artists had a lot of things to work with. Every single villain had their own moments to shine and their main traits portrayed through the simple evil schemes they concocted. It was quite the fun to see them try and find ways to take down Batman. In all honesty, I didn’t however feel like the artwork pulled me into feeling feelings; gosh, that made my brain fart. The only time that that the story actually had me captivated and intrigued is in the final act, the final chapter. Even though I knew where it was going, the execution was much more shocking and powerful than the rest of the story. Throughout the volume, you do see Batman realizing the plan little by little, while seeing how much its killing him. But the final chapter felt like the last straw. It felt like you could actually see that Bane’s brains did an extremely heavy damage to the Dark Knight, but that the nail on the coffin would come from his brawn’s.
The best part of this volume is obviously the last chapter. The writing became lyrical and focal to the panels that were building up to the famous scene. A lot of the stories presented before the main event could’ve been cut out just to avoid feeling the repetition in plot. Although the plot could be seen as Batman climbing a tower and being challenged by a different villain until he reached the top for the big bad boss, Robin’s adventures on the side helped bring change and add subplots. Even Killer Croc had his own agenda, one that you don’t exactly expect from the savage creature. The first part in the trilogy remains a classic in Batman’s universe, but one that doesn’t exactly have the same weight as other masterpieces. This is the volume where you meet with Bane and where you are shown what his motives and way of villainy are. Although the focus is around the downfall of Batman and the rise of Bane, you also get glimpses of another important character, Jean-Paul Valley. His role becomes a lot bigger in part 2 and 3, but his appearance sure can intrigue some of the connoisseurs of Batman’s universe. Any hardcore fan should go through at least Knightfall. It’s always nice to see a Bane that isn’t a growl-only slave of Poison Ivy. Am I right?
Did you read Batman: Knightfall (Part One: Broken Bat) yet? What did you think about it?
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