Monday, October 14, 2019

Review: Bane: Conquest, by Chuck Dixon

As a rule, I avoid comic books. I find most of them overpriced and under quality. The last time I went out of my way to collect comics it was J Michael Straczynski's run on Amazing Spider Man. (No, I don't blame him for One More Day.)  Right now, there is so much political crap going on in comics, or so much poor writing (See: Batman's wedding) that you can't drag me to a comic book with a ten foot pole.

But recently, I found myself making an exception for Chuck Dixon, creator of my favorite comic book villain -- Bane.  

Commonly known as an antagonist for Batman, Bane has been largely ill-treated in Bat-media. I find him more interesting that Batman, and more likable than the majority of Bat villains. While many of them are tragic figures (not Riddler, Joker, Catwoman and Penguin, they're arrogant, evil, and larcenous, in that order) Bane is one of the few I genuinely like. When first introduced, he was intelligent, efficient, and not half as crazy as most of the rest of the Gotham crowd. And he had a plan executed so well, I want to see DC writers try to pull it off again to see how they can Mary Sue Batman out of it this time.

In short, he's a villain who plays chess and speaks Latin.

Once again, DC was smart enough to get Chuck Dixon back to once more write Bane. And this time, they allowed Bane to be the main character. (I was largely happy with Forever Evil ... then they dropped the ball in the endgame.)

This is Bane: Conquest.
In the dark waters off the coast of Gotham City, a mysterious crew of smugglers has made a deadly mistake--they tried to bring weapons of mass destruction into Bane's city!

After tracing the illicit arms back to their source, Bane and his henchmen uncover a criminal conspiracy that seems to span the entire globe and encompass every illegal activity under the sun.

But if there really is a secret empire behind all of the world's crime, Bane should--nay, must--be the one running it. And no one--not assassin cults, super-hackers, Catwoman or Batman himself--is going to stand in his way!

Twenty-five years after bringing Bane to life in Batman: Knightfall, creators Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan reunite to tell the most epic tale yet of one of Batman's most dangerous foes! Collects issues #1-12.

This one puts Bane up against a worldwide criminal organization called Kobra ... If you're having flashbacks to GI Joe, please don't. They're not into the world domination business. But they do amount to the biggest crime family in existence. 

The execution is everything I've missed about the character, and about comic books, for quite sometime. The character is smart yet vicious. The action and the odds are over-the-top. There are cameos from terrorists and space aliens. Every frame is on point. Nothing here is gratuitous. The story arc ends with an action sequence that's one part The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, and Where Eagles Dare.

This is comic books and their best. Where else are you going to have a close quarters combat duel with a mech on one end... and an unarmed man on the other?

By the end of the issue, you get to see why Bane is the best Batman "villain." It's a moment that comes after the shooting is over and all the scheming is done. It's moments like this where I think Bane should get his own series, as long as Chuck Dixon writes it and everyone in upper management leaves him alone.

Amazon has it right now for (checks price) $18. For nearly 300 pages of comic books, that's a darn good deal.

If you like Bane: Conquest, then I will also recommend to you my Saint Tommy NYPD series, or my Love at First Bite quartet -- they're as close as I come to writing comic books of my own.

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