There are a few comic book events that will always stick out in my mind: Invasion!, The death of Superman, The Infinity Gauntlet, the X-Cutioner’s Song, and even the founding of Image comics, to name a few. All of these events have a place in my comic reading history. But there is another comic event that takes the top spot: KnightFall.
The 19 part storyline culminated in the pages of the landmark Batman #500. According to Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, Batman #500 hit comic shelves on August 17, 1993. It’s hard to believe it has been 25 years since comic book fans witnessed Batman’s back being broken by Bane. It was a shocking moments, after all, Bane was a relatively new character at the time. But within a year, Bane became Batman’s most formidable foe.
Getting a copy of Batman #500 was easier said than done. On the day the comic was released, I was out of the country on vacation with my aunt and uncle (the nice ones). The night before I called my mom, and told her she had to go to New England Comic to grab me a copy of the special edition. I wanted the Joe Quesada wraparound die-cut cover, not the newstand cover. My mother agreed, and she was at NEC when it opened the next day.
She later told me that when she got to the store, the line went around the building to the alley that lead to the parking garage. By the time she made it inside, there were only a handful of issues left. But luckily for me, she got the Joe Quesada cover I was dying for. Unfortunately, I wasn’t coming home until August 28, so it would be a while before I was able to read the damn thing. When I finally read it, I was disappointed.
I will admits that Batman #500 has a lot of story packed in. But the book was split into chapters, with different art teams, with Jim Aparo, Terry Austin, and Mike Manley on art duty. But to me, that took away from the impact this book should have had. The characters look quite different from chapter to chapter. And this issue proved to me that as good an artist Jim Aparo was, he didn’t draw great teenagers.
While there are two confrontations with Bane in this issue, most of the book spends time dealing with the GCPD and how they’re handling situation. And we get a little bit on the rocky relationship between Jean Paul Valley, Tim Drake, and the reasons why Nightwing didn’t take the Batman mantle. This would have been fine had any of these scenes had any depth to them. This was surprising from a Dough Moench written book.
The final confrontation between Bane and the new Batman is okay, but it’s more of a chase than a fight. The one thing I did like about these sequence was how things around the city were used. Like Bane changing the billboard sign, and the elevated train coming into play later on. Another thing that always sticks in my mind is one panel showing Commissioner Gordon adjusting his glasses. I don’t know if it was an in joke, or just an oversight, but Gordon fixing his glasses happened a lot during this period of Batman books.
One last memory regarding this comic happened the night I called my mom about going to the comic store. That night when I settled down to watch some tv, CBS was airing the 1989 “Batman” movie. And if I recall correctly, it was the broadcast premier of the movie. All these years I’ve wondered if that was done because Batman #500 was coming out the next day, or if it was a simple coincidence. But I guess I’ll never really know.
In the end, I’m thankful my mom went out of her way to find me a copy of Batman #500. Of course it wouldn’t be long before I started finding a bunch of copies in dollar bins at conventions, but that’s another story for another time.