Bane: The Man Who Broke the Bat
Batman had tirelessly defended Gotham against villains like The Joker, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and more. It took him years, but eventually the Dark Knight was able to lock his foes all away behind the impenetrable walls of Arkham Asylum. There, and only there, could the maniacs and supervillains be held at bay. Only Arkham Asylum had the technology to hold back the onslaught of destruction.
But up to a certain point, Batman had never faced off against Bane. And Bane would be the one to finally break the Bat. How did it all happen?
Fear of the Bat
Bane was born on an island in South America called Santa Prisca. Before he was born, Bane’s father was a doctor and a revolutionary against the corrupt government. But when Bane’s father fled the country to avoid persecution, the government forced Bane’s mother to accept jail time on behalf of the father. Bane was born in the awful Peña Duro prison, and was raised within its walls. The guards didn’t care about the prisoners, and there were often murders and crimes perpetuated on a daily basis.
As he grew up, his only friend was his teddy bear named Osito, or ‘little bear‘ in Spanish. Osito helped keep him safe from terrible nightmares of a great Bat. Bane was haunted by visions of a demonic bat for all of his childhood. It didn’t help that all of the prisoners tried to use Bane for their personal gain, asking him to spy for them and sneak into places only a small child could get to. Bane started using Osito as a pocket for a large blade so he could learn to protect himself.
As he got older, Bane realized he’d have to do a lot more than just carry a knife to survive in such an awful prison. His ambition was to take control of the prison’s crime system so he’d never have to be afraid again. He trained to become stronger. He snapped steel cables that guards used to hold him down before he ever even heard of the drug Venom. Bane quickly rose to the top of the crime ladder in the prison. He read every book he could get his hands on. He learned Spanish, English, French, German, Mandarin, Farsi, Russian, Urdu, and Latin. He learned sciences, history, medicine, and more.
The guards abused him, and constantly conspired to break his spirit and his body. Eventually, they subjected to an experimental drug that had killed every other prisoner. That drug, Venom, made Bane as strong, durable, and quick as a superhuman. It gave him his trademark strength but also made him dependent on the drug to maintain his impressive ability.
Breaking the Bat
While still in Peña Duro prison, Bane heard stories of The Batman in Gotham City. Stories of a mere man who became the “king” of Gotham. Bane’s ambitions changed. The Batman reminded him of the bat that haunted him as a child – and at certain points, with too much Venom running to his head, Bane truly believed the Batman was that very Bat. But more than that, Bane wanted to defeat Batman. To prove that he was stronger, smarter, more capable of controlling Gotham. Not only that, but Bane felt that he was the only person capable of defeating the Batman. Bane even started killing other mobsters that planned to kill Batman, just so he could kill Batman himself.
But Bane knew better than to attack Batman head on. He planned. He studied Batman, and even discovered his secret identity. He broke into Arkham Asylum as released the most terrifying of Batman‘s foes. Villains who took endless planning to capture, and who caused endless destruction, were running rampant through Gotham. Followers and mobs supporting those villains all came out to play, and Batman had to defeat them all at the same time, all over again. It took Batman three months of endless work and sleepless nights to return all those villains to Arkham Asylum.
It was then that Bane attacked, when Batman was at his most exhausted and his most vulnerable. When he was finally at home at Wayne Manor. Then and only then did he raise the frail Bat above his head, and slam him down on his knee. Bane broke Batman’s back and paralyzed him, forcing him to retire the cowl and hand the mantle to Nightwing. In the meantime, Bane easily took over Gotham’s underworld as “The Man who Broke the Bat.”
When Bane was finally defeated, he was locked up in Blackgate Prison, and suffered through severe withdrawals from the Venom drug. While in Blackgate, his ambitions shifted yet again: find his father.
Once he escaped from prison, Bane found out that his secret Venom formula had been stolen and was being used a reproduced as a street drug. He ended up working side by side with Batman to defeat the crimelord distributing Venom. As soon as the streets were cleaned up, he left to search for his father.
In his quest, he found his way back to his homeland of Santa Prisca, where a Jesuit priest told him that there is a very good chance that his father was an American doctor. Bane researched the revolutionaries in Santa Prisca at the time, and found the impossible: Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s father, was one of the revolutionaries, and was actually very close with Bane‘s mother. Bane concluded that he and Bruce Wayne had the same father, and that they were half-brothers. He returned to Gotham immediately and told Bruce Wayne this startling discovery.
Batman, ever-logical, insisted on a DNA test. While they waited for the results, Bane lived at the Wayne Manor, and even fought crime with Batman. They worked together and kept Gotham safe from the terrible villains that plagued the city. In this time, Bane and Batman became close friends, and formed a mutual respect for each other.
When the DNA test came back negative, Bane left. No fights. No rage. Just acceptance. Batman wished him well and even gave him money to continue his search for his father. When Bane found out that supervillain King Snake planned to kill millions, he teamed up again with Batman, and even took a bullet for Batman!
While they aren’t brothers, they made a good team. For a time. In order to save his life, Batman took Bane to the Lazarus Pit. And no one leaves the Lazarus Pit the same as they entered…
Ultimately, Bane‘s story is one of ambition. His mental abilities and sheer willpower have at times rivaled that of Bruce Wayne, and his goals at times have aligned with Batman’s. But his corrupted ambitions and reliance on enhancement show his true weakness: fear. Fear of failure. Fear of weakness. And yes, even a fear of the Bat.
Batman doesn’t rely on cheap tricks or drugs to control Gotham’s underworld. Batman uses his own skills and training. Bane uses Venom because he can’t stand the idea of being weak. He’s fully capable without it, strong enough to press 1,500 pounds, smart enough to deduce Batman’s secret identity. But Bane relies on the Venom drug. His own ambition is his greatest downfall. If he cannot be The Bat… he will defeat The Bat. Destroy the Bat, and bring him to his knees.
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