10 June 2007

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Bane

Bane is one of the Batman's more recent foes, first rearing his ugly head in 1993. Since then he has made appearances in Batman: The Animated Series, The Batman (in one of the 1st seasons best episodes), and as a brainless moron in Batman and Robin (one of the films many missteps).

Born to serve the life sentence of his father, Bane's childhood and early adult life were spent behind the walls of Peña Duro, an infamous prison located in Santa Prisca. Though imprisoned, his natural abilities allowed him to develop extraordinary skills within the walls of Peña Duro. He read as many books as he could get his hands on, built up his body in the prison's gymnasium, and learned to fight in the merciless school of prison life. Despite his circumstances, he appears to have found teachers of various sorts during his incarceration, ranging from the hardened convicts who were his company from birth to an elderly Jesuit priest, under whose tutelage he apparently received a classical education. Bane would murder this priest upon his return to Santa Prisca years later. However, he committed the first of his murders at the age of eight, stabbing a criminal who wanted to use him to gain information about the prison.

During his years in prison, Bane carried a teddy bear he called Osito (Spanish for "little bear"), whom he considered his only friend. It was revealed that Osito had a hole in his back to hold a knife that Bane used against anyone who bullied him.

Bane ultimately established himself as the "king" of Peña Duro prison. He had already developed a superior physique through bodybuilding, and used his physical and intellectual abilities to become the "king". The prison's controllers took note of this, and eventually, Bane was forced to become a test subject for a mysterious drug known as Venom, which had killed all other subjects. It nearly killed him at first, but he survived and found its effects enhanced his physical strength, although he needed to take it every 12 hours (via a system of cables pumped directly into his brain) or he would suffer debilitating side-effects.

Years later, Bane escaped Peña Duro, along with several accomplices (his friends Trogg, Zombie and Bird, all of whom are named for 1960s rock bands: The Troggs, The Zombies, and The Byrds, and were designed to mimic three of Doc Savage's assistants Monk, Ham, and Renny). His ambition turned to destroying Batman, whom he had heard tales of while serving his sentence, becoming fascinated with Gotham City as, like the prison, it was a place where fear ruled—in this case, fear of the Batman. Bane was convinced that the demonic bat that haunted his dreams since childhood was a representation of the Batman.

Aware that a direct assault on Batman would be foolish, Bane destroyed the walls of Arkham Asylum, allowing its deranged inmates to escape into Gotham City, where Batman spent three months rounding them up. Running himself to exhaustion, Batman returned to Wayne Manor, where Bane awaited him. He fought Batman in the Batcave, defeated him, and delivered the coup de grace: he broke Batman's back and threw him off a building in Gotham Square so that all Gothamites would know that he had defeated their protector.

While Bane established himself as ruler of Gotham's criminal underworld, Bruce Wayne passed the mantle of Batman to Jean-Paul Valley, also known as Azrael. As Batman, Jean-Paul grew increasingly violent, allowing the villain known as Abattoir to fall to his death. Jean-Paul also refused to recognize Robin as his partner. Utilizing a sophisticated combat suit in place of the traditional Batman uniform, "AzBats" (as comics fans refer to him) fought and defeated Bane at the end of the "Knightfall" arc, severing the tubes that pumped the Venom into Bane, causing severe withdrawal, and inflicted on Bane a vicious beating. Jean-Paul left him alive but broken, much as Bane had left Batman.

Following the events of "Knightfall", Bane recovered from his Venom addiction while serving time in prison as seen in Vengeance of Bane II: The Redemption (1995). He eventually escaped from prison and returned to Gotham, where he fought alongside Batman to take out a criminal ring that was distributing a Venom derivative to street-level thugs. Following a victory over the criminals, Bane proclaimed that he was "innocent" of his past crimes and urged Batman to stop hunting him. He then left Gotham (without fighting Batman) to begin a search for his father.

Bane's search brought him back to Santa Prisca (shown in the Bane of the Demon miniseries published in 1998). In search of leads, Bane questioned the Jesuit priest who had taught him while he was in Peña Duro. The priest explained that there were four men who could possibly have been his father: a Santa Priscan revolutionary, an American doctor, an English mercenary, and a Swiss banker. While searching for the Swiss in Rome, Bane encountered Ra's al Ghul's daughter Talia. Talia introduced Bane to her father, and eventually Bane impressed Ra's so much that he chose Bane as his heir (an "honor" he had previously imparted on Batman).

Ra's al Ghul and Bane then launched a plague attack on Gotham in the "Legacy" storyline. Bruce Wayne, again costumed as Batman, got his rematch with Bane and narrowly defeated him in single combat. Since then, whenever Batman and Bane square off in battle, their fights usually end in a draw, as Bane's strength is now equal to Batman's (instead of vastly superior), because Bane no longer uses Venom.

According to the Jesuit priest that Bane spoke with there was a possibility that Bane's biological father was an American doctor. In researching this issue, Bane came to the conclusion that he and Batman shared Dr. Thomas Wayne as their biological father, with Dr. Wayne having apparently become close to Bane's mother during his time in Santa Prisca. Bane alerted Batman to this possibility, and during the time that the DNA tests were being performed, stayed at Wayne Manor and fought alongside Batman on the streets of Gotham. Ultimately, it was revealed that Dr. Wayne was not Bane's father, and Bane left Gotham peacefully (and with Batman's blessing and financial backing) to pursue leads in the snowy mountains of Kanchenjunga.

Bane eventually found his father, the unscrupulous King Snake. Bane, with Batman looking on, helped to foil King Snake's plans to unleash a powerful weapon upon the world. In the process, Bane saved Batman from being shot by King Snake, but was mortally wounded in the process. Batman then saved Bane by bathing him in a Lazarus Pit, and left him with a clean slate and a new opportunity at life.

Villain Profiles:

Ra's al Ghul

Talia al Ghul
Baby Doll

The Dark Knight returns in 405 days!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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