Monday, May 27, 2013
A Comic A Day: Batman #491
Written by Doug Moench
Art by Jim Aparo & Adrienne Roy
1993 was not a great year to be a costumed crimefighter. With Superman "dead" and his sales briefly skyrocketing, DC comics saw fit to try a similar stunt with another flagship character, Batman. The man-mountain Bane would soon unleash the denizens of Arkham Asylum on an already weary Gotham City, forcing Batman and his sparse allies to fight a gauntlet of career criminals and psychopaths. Wrapped up in a broken Bat-symbol motif, this epic storyline would go by the name Knightfall. Batman #491 is a prologue to this event.
Bane and his cronies are making waves from the get-go. After making the Gotham City PD look like chumps and stealing enough armaments to fight a small war, the steroid powered luchador and his henchmen (the less-inspired Zombie, Trogg, and Bird) set their sights on Arkham Asylum. Batman is naturally caught in the middle and is perpetually one step behind Bane, thanks in part to the wild card known as the Joker. Batman is helpless in stopping the escapees and the gauntlet is thrown. Already showing signs of fatigue, Batman has a long night ahead of him and all hell is about to break loose.
I remember being six years old and practically pumping my fist as Bane wrecked shop on the police and wrangled control of the Gotham underworld away from the usual schitzos. The stakes were much higher then, when I was still oblivious to marketing gimmicks and shoddy, decompressed storytelling. This was the start of an action epic I would read again and again every year well into my teens and even led to me purchasing the trade collections years after that.
With so much fan ire earned by the annual event cycle of mainstream superhero comics, I have to share a little chuckle with myself. I might turn up my nose at the Trinity Wars of today, but it was the Knightfalls of yesterday that made me a lifelong comic book fan and at that critical point in my young development, somehow kept me coming back for more.