Sam Quixote's Reviews > Batman: Knightfall, Part One: Broken Bat

Batman by Doug Moench
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Apr 07, 2012

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The masked villain Bane arrives in Gotham with a plan to destroy Batman - release all of Batman's prisoners from Arkham Asylum and once he's gone through them all, he'll be at his weakest and then... then he will break him!

The first part of the Knightfall trilogy is overlong and a bit dull to be honest. It's a good storyline, Bane setting loose a ton of villains into Gotham and then sitting back, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, but all it means is that Batman has to go through each and every villain in a kind of rote, dull way as we slowly see Batman get weaker and weaker.

But why is he so worn out even at the start of the book? It's not explained in the book but the prelude to this is a fight Batman had with Black Mask and his gang which wore him out, along with a venom-juiced up Riddler, followed by what can only be described as a mid-life crisis (I know). Bruce can't sleep nor is he willing to take any rest so he's an exhausted wreck even before Bane sets free the inmates of Arkham.

Luckily Bruce has a new ally in Jean-Paul Valley aka Azrael, a graduate student in Gotham U, who discovers that he's been unconsciously trained from birth to be an assassin for an ancient religious order. While he plays a relatively low role in this book, he's being helped by Tim Drake (Robin) to overcome his conditioning to turn him from a would-be villain to an ally.

I felt there was a lot of crap in this book and a lot of it has to do with aesthetics. Jim Aparo's artwork looks very 90s and is bound to be a turn off to many new Batman readers who've been exposed to tremendous artists like Jim Lee, Tony Daniel, Yanick Paquette, Jock, Frank Quitely, Philip Tan, the list goes on. Joker's face looks ridiculously exaggerated, his mouth looks like you could fit a bowling ball in it, its so elongated, while Zsasz's eyebrows look so jagged they're jutting off of his face entirely. There's a Batman villain in this book I've never heard of and it's easy to see why - he's called "Film Freak" and his superpower is that he's got film reel earrings: that's it. Then there's the Batmobile which looks like a Blackberry Torch, Tim Drake's haircut looks very 90s while Bruce's do looks strangely like Superman's, then there's the 90s mobile phones and printers/computers… The book comes across as very dated.

Appearances aside, the story's not that enthralling either. The enemies that "sap" Batman's strength are all second tier villains like Mad Hatter, Zsasz, Poison Ivy, Cornelius Stirk, and let's not forget the incredible Film Freak. This bizarre line-up culminates with Batman vs Bane where Bruce actually looks scared of Bane, something I felt was very out of character.

The book has a solid overall story arc but it's a long dull slog to get to the conclusion until things get interesting. "Broken Bat" had its moments, I particularly enjoyed Batman's beat down of Joker for the murder of Jason Todd years before, but unfortunately these were few and far between. I'm going to read the rest of the trilogy but for those who're on the fence about reading this first book, I'd say take a look at the second to last page and you've basically got the book in a nutshell. “Broken Bat” is for Batman completists only, for more casual comics readers this book will be boring.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Martin To the following (from your review):
(1)I felt there was a lot of crap in this book and a lot of it has to do with aesthetics.
(2)The book comes across as very dated.
(3) “Broken Bat” is for Batman completists only, for more casual comics readers this book will be boring.
I agree wholeheartedly. The same can even be said about the whole trilogy (the original one, not the recently [more complete] re-releases - I don't know about those. They may be more complete, but I bet it's just more of the same). I recommend instead Dennis O'Neill's novelisation of this trilogy (if you can find it). It's comparatively shorter, therefore less bloated/padded and is consequently more entertaining.

message 2: by Sam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sam Quixote That might be an interesting read, I'll have a look for it. Thanks!

Martin Same thing goes for the No Man's Land event. Originally released in FIVE (5!!) trades, recently re-released in 4 [though more complete - I think] trades, Greg Rucka's novelisation leaves out all the crap and gives us the essential story (which may get lost in all the side stories and the obvious padding that can be found in the trades).
However, from your reviews, I'm under the impression that you're not keen on Rucka, but maybe if you just forget that he wrote the book, you may enjoy the story more.
Just a thought :)

message 4: by Anne (new)

Anne Thanks for the review, Sam. I've been eyeballing this one, but I think I'll give it a pass.

message 5: by Sam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sam Quixote I read most of No Man's Land anyway and wasn't that impressed - don't think I'll be picking up Rucka's adaptation in a hurry!

Had a search for Denny O'Neil's Knightfall novelisation and they're not in print and not at all cheap! And another one bites the dust...

Lukasz Totally agree with Martin on the NML part. Reading the novelization you almost forget that this is 'only' an adaptation of a bloated event. Very satisfying read. Haven't tried O'Neill's Knightfall though.

message 7: by Sam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sam Quixote Right, I've ordered a copy of Rucka's novelization of NML. Here's hoping it's better than the event was.

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