Batman: Knightfall

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"Knightfall"
Cover to Batman #497: The breaking of the bat. Art by Kelley Jones.
Publisher DC Comics
Publication date April 1993 – August 1994
Genre
Main character(s) Batman, Bane, Azrael
Creative team
Writer(s) Chuck Dixon, Jo Duffy, Alan Grant, Dennis O'Neil, Doug Moench
Penciller(s) Jim Aparo, Jim Balent, Eduardo Barreto, Bret Blevins, Norm Breyfogle, Vincent Giarrano, Tom Grummett, Klaus Janson, Barry Kitson, Mike Manley, Graham Nolan, Sal Velluto, Mike Vosburg, Ron Wagner
Inker(s) Jeff Albrecht, Jim Aparo, Terry Austin, Eduardo Barreto, John Beatty, Bret Blevins, Norm Breyfogle, Rick Burchett, Steve George, Vince Giarrano, Dick Giordano, Scott Hanna, Klaus Janson, Ray Kryssing, Tom Mandrake, Mike Manley, Ron McCain, Frank McLaughlin, Josef Rubinstein, Bob Smith, Bob Wiacek
Collected editions
Vol. 1 ISBN 978-1401233792
Vol. 2: Knightquest ISBN 978-1401235369
Vol. 3: KnightsEnd ISBN 978-1401237219

"Knightfall" is the title given to a major Batman story arc published by DC Comics that dominated Batman-related serial comic books in the spring and summer of 1993. "Knightfall" is also an umbrella title for the trilogy of storylines that ran from 1993 to 1994, consisting of "Knightfall", "Knightquest", and "KnightsEnd".[note 1] Collectively, they are unofficially known as the KnightSaga.

The story takes place over approximately six months. Bruce Wayne (Batman) suffers burnout and is systematically assaulted and crippled by a "super steroid"-enhanced genius named Bane. Wayne is replaced as Batman by an apprentice named Jean-Paul Valley, who becomes increasingly violent and unstable, tarnishing Batman's reputation. Eventually, Wayne is healed through paranormal means, and reclaims his role as Batman.

"Knightfall" resulted in long-term ramifications for the Batman mythos, as Batman's trust from the police, the public, and fellow superheroes had to be rebuilt. Additionally, Wayne realizes the peril and burden of attempting to work in solitude, leading to the eventual creation of the modern incarnation of the Batman family. The events of Knightfall also led to the resignation of Wayne's loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth.

The entire "Knightfall" storyline took over a year to complete in the comic book serials, and in later years, the comics were compressed into a series of trade paperbacks, although these paperbacks do not include the "Knightquest: The Search" portion of the story.

Publication[edit]

The initial idea for the character of Azrael stemmed from a two-part story idea pitched by Detective Comics writer Peter Milligan circa 1991, as he was leaving that position.[1][2] After line editor Dennis O'Neil decided to expand it into a larger epic, he and the Batman line writers Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench and Alan Grant convened an authors' summit over a long weekend to flesh out the details and story points. At the same time, the Superman team was planning for a similar character-altering storyline, and neither they nor the Batman group initially had any knowledge of each other's plans.[2] Dennis O'Neil denies the Knightfall storyline was in any way inspired by the Death of Superman and states that it was already in development by as much as three years, saying that if the Batman staff had known, the storyline would likely have been pushed down a year.[3]

The serial stories of the monthly Batman comics titles began slowly building toward the "Knightfall" arc several months prior, in conjunction with the publication of the Sword of Azrael miniseries and Vengeance of Bane one-shot which also laid foundation for the larger story.

"Knightfall" ran from April to October 1993, Batman issues 492 through 500 and Detective Comics issues 659 through 666, with the two titles sharing a single narrative during this time. The massive story was quickly collected into two volumes of trade paperbacks. Volume one was subtitled Broken Bat and the second Who Rules the Night. Knightfall was the first time that multiple Batman titles had shared a single narrative for an extended period since the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

"Knightfall" was immediately followed by "Knightquest" in the monthly serials. "Knightquest" is divided into two storylines, one following Bruce Wayne ("Knightquest: The Search") and the other on the new Batman ("Knightquest: The Crusade"). The stories were not treated as crossovers and the Batman titles continued as they had before "Knightfall" where the creative teams each pursued its own storyline. Instead of a crossover, "Knightquest" was more of an umbrella title that also encompassed some issues of Shadow of the Bat. (To avoid giving away their plans, the publishers treated it as though it were the new status quo, so issues were not numbered as chapters.) Additionally, The Crusade served as a launching point for the first ongoing monthly series featuring Robin in solo adventures.

Although previous parts of "KnightSaga" had taken considerable time to run their course, the entirety of "KnightsEnd" was published within two months, as the Batman books had to prepare themselves for DC's impending company-wide crossover Zero Hour, which would immediately follow the "KnightSaga". Nothing was truncated as the Batman editorial line made use of all of the Batman-related titles at their disposal, such as Catwoman, Robin and Legends of the Dark Knight (normally an anthology title with stories set in the past). "KnightsEnd" was later collected in trade paperback as Knightfall Volume 3.

The serial nature of the Batman titles continued beyond the end of KnightsEnd, with the Prodigal storyline, and into subsequent unbannered stories. This continued in later arcs such as "Contagion", "Legacy", "Cataclysm", "No Man's Land", and "War Games", and has on occasion continued into the present.

The intent of the writers was to counter the then-popular style of violent heroes in comics, and demonstrate that the traditional Batman made for a better hero.[2] The issues featuring Jean-Paul Valley as Batman on the cover depict him with highly exaggerated musculature and legs which taper into disproportionally tiny feet, mimicking the styles of contemporary "violent hero" artists such as Rob Liefeld.

Storyline[edit]

Prelude[edit]

The prelude to "Knightfall" began with the introduction of two new characters key to its storyline in issues prior to the release of "Knightfall":

  • Azrael, aka Jean-Paul Valley (introduced in Batman: The Sword of Azrael (October 1992 to January 1993) by Dennis O'Neil and Joe Quesada), a graduate student at Gotham University who discovers he has been unconsciously trained since birth as an assassin for an ancient religious order.
  • Bane, introduced in Batman: Vengeance of Bane (January 1993) by Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan, an orphan born and raised in a Central American island prison, self-taught and ruthless, who underwent an involuntary experimental operation to become a new type of supersoldier, before breaking free and deciding to take Gotham City from its "king," Batman.

The two characters were quickly added to the cast in the monthly Batman titles, with Azrael being a superhero-in-training who fights alongside Batman, while Bane was introduced as a supervillain.

Within the regular series, the buildup to "Knightfall" begins with a six-issue run in Batman #484-489 (September 1992 - February 1993), in which Batman (at the onset of a personal psychological mid-life crisis) is forced to deal, in rapid succession, with the returning villain Black Mask and his gang (who target Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox), a crazed killer called Metalhead, and a sharpshooter assassin hired by an imprisoned mobster to murder Commissioner Gordon. Batman begins to feel he has lost his edge, especially after his failure to capture Black Mask. He finds himself unable to meditate or even focus. As Bruce Wayne, he contacts holistic therapist Shondra Kinsolving for treatment. He also assigns Robin (Tim Drake) to train Jean-Paul Valley in detective work to aid them as an ally, hoping to guide Valley's brainwashing away from making him a villainous threat. Despite the advice of everyone in his life, including Dr. Kinsolving, Bruce refuses to rest, and continues to pursue his self-imposed duty despite his worsening condition. (Although not explicitly noted as a cause, these events take place immediately after the death of Superman, Batman's peer, elsewhere in the DC Universe.)

The next storyline, in Detective Comics #654-656 (December 1992 - February 1993), involves a young military student usurping power in Gotham's underworld and assaulting a police station, with Bruce's fatigue continuing to worsen. At the conclusion of this story, Bane and his henchman are shown monitoring Batman's performance.

Bane begins a series of encounters letting Batman know of his presence and his intentions. In the following issues, Bane interferes with encounters pitting villains Killer Croc and Riddler against Batman, and, to test Batman's limits, goes so far as to inject Riddler with the Venom drug. This escalation culminates in an assault on Arkham Asylum in Batman #491 (April 1993), where Bane breaks the inmates free and supplies them with numerous weapons to escape. Meanwhile, Robin finds it difficult to work with Jean-Paul, due to the man's violent subconscious training and lack of social skills, and also finds himself being shut out from working alongside Batman.

"Knightfall"[edit]

The plot of "Knightfall" begins[note 2] with the master criminal Bane freeing all of the maximum-security inmates of Arkham Asylum, a notorious psychiatric facility in Gotham City. Aware that he would lose in a direct assault against Batman, Bane's plan consists of weakening Batman by forcing him to deal with the deadly villains simultaneously. Among the freed inmates, there are numerous high-profile villains, such as the Joker (who trapped Arkham's administrator Jeremiah Arkham), the Scarecrow, The Riddler, and Poison Ivy, as well as many less known villains, such as the Mad Hatter, The Ventriloquist, Firefly, Cavalier, The Film Freak, Mr. Zsasz, Cornelius Stirk, Abattoir, Amygdala, . The scenario creates a rift in the relationship between Robin and Batman, as Batman irrationally seeks to face the outbreak alone—in later issues, Robin asks Batman if he is even needed as his sidekick anymore. A later flashback to this time period (Showcase '93 #7-8) shows Batman pursuing Two-Face alone, being trapped and kidnapped to stand a mock trial; he is saved only by a rescue attempt from Robin.

Bane breaks Batman's back in a splash page from Batman #497 (July 1993). Art by Jim Aparo.

Over the next few issues, Batman becomes weaker and weaker as each criminal is put away. The rescue of Mayor Krol from the teaming of the Joker and Scarecrow pushes Batman to his mental and physical limits: a dose of Scarecrow's fear gas makes him relive the murder of Jason Todd, which he considers to be his greatest failure. After this encounter, Bane makes his move and attacks Batman at Wayne Manor, his home as his alter-ego—by this time, Bane had deduced the secret identity of Batman. The fight between Bruce Wayne and Bane is detailed in Batman #497. By this time, Batman is so exhausted from the exertion of catching the escaped criminals that he cannot even defend himself; Bane beats him mercilessly before breaking Wayne's back over his knee inside the Batcave below the manor, symbolically "breaking" Batman and leaving Wayne a paraplegic.[4] Bane takes the grievously-wounded Wayne (still costumed in the Batman outfit) downtown to Gotham Square and throws him from a rooftop to demonstrate his superiority to the populace. Quick action by Robin and Alfred spares Batman's life, but at great cost - he is left a paraplegic. With Batman incapacitated, Bane assumes control of Gotham City's underworld and takes over several illegal operations within it.

After his defeat, Bruce Wayne enlists the aid of Dr. Shondra Kinsolving to rehabilitate him and asks Jean-Paul Valley to take up the mantle of Batman so that Gotham has a protector. Tim Drake argues with Bruce to allow Dick Grayson (the former Robin and then-current Nightwing) to become Batman, as he is more experienced and mentally competent. Bruce replies that Grayson has his own responsibilities and would only take up the mantle of the Bat reluctantly. (Dick later expressed resentment at not being asked to stand in as Batman.) Bruce's rationale for this decision is revealed in later issues - secretly, he does not want Dick to have to face Bane, as he knows Dick's character will compel him to try. Indeed, Bruce gives Jean-Paul strict orders never to engage Bane in combat—and when Jean-Paul does face Bane, only his modified gloves save Jean-Paul from being thrown to his death.

Soon after, Kinsolving and Tim's father Jack Drake are kidnapped and Bruce and Alfred leave the country to find them - their story is continued in "Knightquest: The Search", while the happenings in Gotham are recorded in "Knightquest: The Crusade". Jean-Paul is shown to be a different, but not dangerous, Batman until an encounter with the Scarecrow, which results in Jean-Paul being infected by Scarecrow's fear gas and "The System"—his programming as Azrael—taking over, in order to combat Jean-Paul's fear. Following this, Jean-Paul is unable to shake the influence of the System, giving in to it completely after his first defeat at Bane's hands, and being increasingly influenced by it during the rest of his tenure as Batman. Gradually, Jean-Paul alienates Robin with his paranoia and arrogance.

In Batman #500, Jean-Paul, in his new mechanical Batsuit (which is an amalgam of the Azrael costume with the Batman's) confronts Bane in an arduous battle and prevails, although many bystanders are put at risk. Jean-Paul leaves Bane broken mentally and physically, though he struggles with the choice of whether to simply kill Bane or hand him over to the police. He decides that he will let Bane go to Blackgate Prison. Jean-Paul continues to watch over Gotham after the fight, but grows increasingly unstable.

"Knightquest"[edit]

At the onset of "Knightquest", Jean-Paul Valley has been established as Batman, and Bruce Wayne is out of the country. Instead of a crossover with a definite ending, the publishers treated the scenario as though it were the new status quo, leaving it open-ended.

"The Crusade"[edit]

Jean-Paul as Batman. Cover to Detective Comics #667. Art by Kelley Jones.

"Knightquest: The Crusade" follows the story of Jean-Paul Valley during his tenure as Batman. He becomes increasingly violent and mentally unbalanced. During this time, he drives Robin away because he believes Gotham to be so tough that only violence could answer its criminals. In several issues Robin is left horrified as Jean-Paul ferociously attacks common criminals, often with a weapon and sometimes nearly to death. This surge of violence from Gotham's defender puts pressure on Batman's relationship with Police Commissioner Gordon, who begins to distrust and even fear the new Batman and eventually comes to realize he is not the same man he has known.

All of Jean-Paul's actions are compelled by "The System"; on numerous occasions, he experiences the ghosts of his father and the patriarch Saint Dumas giving him guidance and he is driven to near insanity by the time the saga ends. He repeatedly redesigns his Batman costume, adding more gadgets and lethal weapons, including metal claws, a laser, razor-sharp Batarangs and a flame-thrower. Eventually, he also adds a Bat-symbol, matching the one used for the series' logo. Valley becomes compelled by a desire to be a better Batman than Bruce Wayne, especially when he discovers his lack of interest in detective work caused him to make false assumptions about Catwoman (he thought she would sell a powerful nerve gas to terrorists when she merely wanted to dispose of it so it could not be used to hurt anyone).

His questionable behavior climaxes when he encounters the serial killer Abattoir, who is keeping an innocent prisoner in a secret torture chamber: Jean-Paul purposely lets Abattoir die, thereby condemning the prisoner to death as well. Other villains Jean-Paul faces include Mr. Freeze, the Trigger Twins, Joker, Gunbunny & Gunhawk, the Tally Man, and Clayface; the most notable encounters are with Catwoman and the Joker, both of whom could tell Valley was not the original Batman.

"The Search"[edit]

"Knightquest: The Search" follows Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth's search for Jack Drake and Shondra Kinsolving, the father of the current Robin and the physical therapist with whom Bruce Wayne had fallen in love during his rehabilitation sessions respectively. Their investigation leads them to the Caribbean and then Great Britain. Kinsolving's brother-by-adoption Benedict Asp kidnapped her to use her special powers to kill people at a distance. Asp demonstrates this new form of mass murder on a small English village. When Bruce Wayne finds Kinsolving, he finds himself caught in the middle of a telekinetic tug-of-war between Asp and Kinsolving. The battle climaxes with her refocusing her energy to defeat Asp; as a side effect of the energy, Bruce's broken spine becomes healed. However, the drugs forced onto her by Asp, combined with the effects of the fight with Asp, reduce her mind to that of a child as Shondra's traumatised mind regresses to the past to escape her unhappy present, and Wayne reluctantly puts her into a mental institution.

Bruce eventually leaves England to return home to a civilian life in Gotham, but Alfred remains in England, not wanting to see Bruce Wayne damage his body further. He does not return to Gotham until a while later, when Dick Grayson persuades him to do so in later issues.

"KnightsEnd"[edit]

Jean-Paul Valley sees visions of his dead father, who had programmed him at birth to be a deadly weapon. These visions tell Jean-Paul to avenge his father's death, and Jean-Paul searches Gotham for his father's killer. Though the killer, Carlton LeHah, had already been encountered and defeated (in Sword of Azrael), Jean Paul's conditioning had warped his mind to the extent that he no longer remembered the incident. He eventually comes to believe that Penn Selkirk, a Gotham mobster turned weapons dealer who has taken over the remnants of LeHah's organization, is his father's murderer. Valley now spends his time doggedly pursuing him.

Returning to Gotham, Bruce meets with Tim. Even though Jean-Paul disobeyed Bruce's order to refrain from attacking Bane, Bruce is sufficiently impressed with Jean-Paul's results. Bruce decides to retire and allow Jean-Paul to continue as Batman. But when Robin tells Bruce of the circumstances around Abattoir's death, Bruce sneaks into the Batcave and demands that Jean-Paul step down. Jean-Paul refuses and tells Bruce to leave the cave and never come back.

To rehabilitate his skills, Bruce asks the famed assassin Lady Shiva to retrain him. Instead, Shiva pits Bruce against several vengeful expert martial artists, having killed their master while wearing a distinctive tengu mask that she subsequently gives to batman.[4] Shiva's caveat is that these attacks will continue indefinitely until Bruce Wayne breaks his vow to never kill. Finally, in the midst of an attack by the final martial artist, Bruce feigns using the "Leopard Blow" fatal maneuver Shiva had taught him, leaving his would-be assailant apparently dead. Shiva finally declares him worthy of fighting her at some point in the future, with Bruce only revealing his adversary's survival after her departure.

Now back in fighting shape, Bruce returns to the Batcave and resumes his role as Batman. Along with Robin and Nightwing, he tracks Valley down to Selkirk's penthouse. Coincidentally, Catwoman is chasing the same man because he owns a neural enabler which might allow her paraplegic friend to walk again. Selkirk already wants to kill Jean-Paul for destroying a valuable weapons cache in Gotham Harbor.

When they eventually all meet, mass fighting and gunfire ensue. The battle ends with Selkirk's helicopter crashing into the Gotham Narrows Bridge; Jean-Paul falls aflame into the Gotham River. Bruce and Catwoman save Selkirk and his aides just before the helicopter explodes from the leaking fuel. When Bruce tries to find Jean-Paul using the Batmobile, it explodes. Nightwing fears Bruce dead and takes his vengeance out on Jean-Paul on a party boat. The police arrive in time to prevent Nightwing from committing murder, but Jean-Paul escapes. However, to his shock, Jean-Paul finds Bruce waiting at Wayne Manor.

The final battle of the "Knightfall" saga takes place between Jean-Paul Valley and Bruce Wayne in the caverns surrounding the Batcave below Wayne Manor: rather than beating Jean-Paul at hand-to-hand combat, Bruce outwits him by escaping into a passage too narrow for Jean-Paul to go through in his armor, thus forcing Jean-Paul to remove most of it. Bruce then opens a hatch to the outside, which covered the very hole he fell into as a child,[5] allowing sunlight to enter the night lenses in Jean-Paul's helmet. After being momentarily blinded, Jean-Paul removes his cowl, sees Bruce standing over him in the original Batman costume and concedes defeat, saying "You are the Batman- You've always been the Batman...and I am nothing..." Bruce comforts Jean-Paul, who leaves to wander the streets of Gotham, homeless and destitute. Bruce decides not to take Jean-Paul to the police because it was his decision to make Jean-Paul the Batman, leading to his subsequent breakdown.[4]

"KnightsEnd" was collected into a trade paperback about a year later. Originally released as Batman: KnightsEnd, recent editions retitled it as Knightfall Volume 3.

Aftermath[edit]

"Prodigal"[edit]

Dick Grayson assumes the role of Batman during "Prodigal" storyline. From Batman #513 (December 1994). A full panel in homage of Dick's first appearance as Robin in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940). Art by Mike Gustovich.

Bruce reaffirms his partnership with Tim, resolving the tension caused by Bruce's unwillingness to accept help during the Arkham prison break. Bruce passes the mantle of Batman to Grayson so he can re-evaluate what it will take to restore his aura of invincibility. This begins the Prodigal storyline, a reference to Dick Grayson essentially being Bruce's prodigal son; Bruce had adopted Dick after his parents were murdered.

Because of the events of the entire arc, considerable time passes before Commissioner Gordon restores his trust in the idea of a Batman working for good. Gordon can tell that he is not looking at the original Batman (based on Jean-Paul's costume and Dick's height, and the fact that Jean-Paul was more than ready to kill people), and he refuses to place blind trust in a costume after spending so long learning to trust the man. "Prodigal" was utilized as a way of tying up the numerous loose ends that "Knightfall" left, with Killer Croc, the Ventriloquist, Ratcatcher and Two-Face, along with many other, less notorious escaped inmates being returned to prison. In doing so, Dick avenges his worst mistake from his days as Robin, when a mistake in a confrontation with Two-Face caused a man to die and nearly killed Bruce. He also comes to appreciate the incredible physical and mental burden Bruce places on himself in donning the Batsuit. During the story, a firm bond arises between Dick and Tim as they share Wayne Manor together in Bruce's and Alfred's absence.

It's revealed later in "No Man's Land" that Bruce also used this time to set up contingency bases throughout Gotham.

"Troika"[edit]

Batman's costume's debut during "Troika".

When Bruce finally returns for good, he wears a sturdier (made of Kevlar), all-black Batsuit (inspired by the costume of the Tim Burton Batman films), and drives a new, state-of-the-art Batmobile. He fights former Soviet agents Colonel Vega (who teamed with Asp in "Knightquest: The Search"), KGBeast, and Dark Rider, in order to foil a plot to nuke Gotham City with a device the size and shape of a baseball. (Troika is the Russian word for "trio".) The saga also shows how Batman makes changes to his life as Bruce Wayne, his relationships with his "family", plans to live without Alfred, and copes with the decision of making Jean-Paul his replacement.

Nightwing: Alfred's Return[edit]

A one-shot that features the return of Alfred after his resignation during "KnightQuest: The Search". It has Nightwing going to England in order to track Alfred down.

Azrael[edit]

Main article: Azrael (comic book)

A new series following Jean-Paul Valley was begun in April 1995, titled Azrael. In it, he is found on the street by Bruce Wayne, and given money to leave Gotham to travel the world and find his purpose as had Bruce. His journeys take him to Europe, where he uncovers conspiracies within the Sacred Order of Saint Dumas which had brainwashed him. Later, he returns to Gotham City to aid Batman, and the series was retitled Azrael: Agent of the Bat at issue 47. The series ended after one hundred issues, with Valley's apparent death. Each issue was written by Dennis O'Neil. Azrael's demise occurred at the same time as the Batman: Hush storyline, which focused on how Bruce Wayne as Batman interacted with his various friends, allies, loved ones, and enemies; oddly enough though, Jean-Paul Valley was neither mentioned, alluded to, or appeared during this time.

"Batman: Legacy"[edit]

This crossover event involves a rematch between Batman and Bane, who is now allied with Ra's al Ghul. It is followed by the one-shot graphic novel Batman: Bane.

"Bough Breaks"[edit]

Batman Annual #22 featured the return of Arnold Etchison (Abbatoir)'s spirit, wishing to take revenge on Batman (specifically, Azrael-Batman) for his death. Now calling himself Etkar, he possesses Azrael's former Batsuit and returns to the site of his own death, with a hostage.

"Angel and the Bane"[edit]

In Azrael issues #36-40, a final thread of the "Knightfall" plot is resolved in the four-part storyline "Angel and the Bane" and its following issue, "Hour of the Quake".

After the events of Batman: Bane, Azrael is tasked by Batman to track down the recently resurfaced Bane. After meeting, the two men struggle, and Bane gets the upper hand with the aid of a small band of Santa Priscan soldiers and his old henchman Bird. He restrains Azrael and injects him with Venom, with the plan of using him as a super soldier to take over Santa Prisca. Azrael is able to resist addiction to the drug and eventually conquers Bane and flies him back to Gotham City. They arrive just as the massive earthquake occurs. Bane attempts escape but is unable; as a last-ditch effort he unsuccessfully tries to convince Azrael to form a partnership. Instead, Azrael reaffirms his dedication to Bruce Wayne.

The cover of issue 37 depicts Bane breaking Azrael over his knee in a recreation of the famous cover of Batman #497, "Knightfall" part 11.

Reading order and release dates[edit]

Each story arc of the "Knightfall" saga ran across a number of Gotham City-related comics. This created a fairly complex reading order, which is summarized below.

Knightfall Knightquest KnightsEnd Aftermath
"Broken Bat"
(Apr-Late July 1993)
"The Crusade"
(Oct 1993-June 1994)
"The Search"
(Oct 1993-June 1994)
(July-Aug 1994) (Nov 1994-Feb 1995)
  • Batman #491[note 2]
  • 1: Batman #492
  • 2: Detective Comics #659
  • 3: Batman #493
  • 4: Detective Comics #660
  • 5: Batman #494
  • 6: Detective Comics #661
  • 7: Batman #495
  • 8: Detective Comics #662
  • 9: Batman #496
  • 10: Detective Comics #663
  • 11: Batman #497
  • Detective Comics #667-668
  • Shadow of the Bat #19-20
  • Batman #501-502
  • Detective Comics #669-670[note 3]
  • Catwoman #6[note 4]
  • Batman #503-504
  • Catwoman #7
  • Detective Comics #671-673
  • Shadow of the Bat #24
  • Batman #505
  • Shadow of the Bat #25
  • Batman #506-507
  • Shadow of the Bat #26-27
  • Detective Comics #674
  • Batman #508
  • Shadow of the Bat #28
  • Detective Comics #675
  • Justice League Task Force #5-6[note 5]
  • Shadow of the Bat #21-23[note 5]
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #59-61[note 5]
  • Robin #7
  • 1: Batman #509
  • 2: Shadow of the Bat #29
  • 3: Detective Comics #676
  • 4: Legends of the Dark Knight #62
  • 5: Robin #8
  • 6: Catwoman #12
  • 7: Batman #510
  • 8: Shadow of the Bat #30
  • 9: Detective Comics #677
  • 10: Legends of the Dark Knight #63
  • Aftermath: Robin #9
  • Aftermath: Catwoman #13
  • Showcase '94 #10
"Prodigal"
(Nov 1994-Jan 1995)
  • 1: Batman #512
  • 2: Shadow of the Bat #32
  • 3: Detective Comics #679
  • 4: Robin #11
  • 5: Batman #513
  • 6: Shadow of the Bat #33
  • 7: Detective Comics #680
  • 8: Robin #12
  • 9: Batman #514
  • 10: Shadow of the Bat #34
  • 11: Detective Comics #681
  • 12: Robin #13
"Who Rules the Night"
(Late July-Oct 1993)
"Troika"
(Feb 1995)
  • 12: Detective Comics #664
  • 13: Showcase '93 #7
  • 14: Showcase '93 #8
  • 15: Batman #498
  • 16: Detective Comics #665
  • Shadow of the Bat #16-18
  • 17: Batman #499
  • 18: Detective Comics #666
  • 19: Batman #500
  • Batman #515
  • Shadow of the Bat #35
  • Detective Comics #682
  • Robin #14
  • The following annuals, special issues and guest appearances take place during "Knightquest" with Jean-Paul Valley as Batman, but are not vital to the plot:
    • Batman Annual #17
    • Detective Comics Annual #6
    • Showcase '93 #10
    • Superman vol. 2 #83
    • Chain Gang War #6-7, 10-12
    • Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #3
    • Catwoman #5
    • Showcase '94 #5-7
    • Robin #1
    • Outsiders #7-9
    • Bloodlines: Bloodbath #1-2
    • Batman/Punisher: Lake of Fire (This has a direct sequel, Batman/Punisher: Deadly Knights)
    • Batman: Turning Points #4
  • During his incapacitation, Bruce Wayne appears in:
    • Justice League Task Force #4
    • Catwoman #4
    • Batman #506
  • Bane and his henchmen appear in Catwoman #1-4, in the lead-up to and aftermath of his defeat by the new Batman.

Influence and legacy[edit]

DC Comics published "Knightfall" around the same time as the "The Death of Superman" storyline. "Knightfall" started almost immediately after the "Funeral For a Friend" storyline in the Superman books. During the breakout at Arkham Asylum, Batman and Robin both wear a black arm band with the S-shield engraved on it. The two stories involved DC Comics' most prominent characters. Similar stories followed for Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Arrow.

In the opening of the novelisation, KnightFall, Dennis O'Neil stated that part of the reason "Knightfall" was written was due to the recent popularity of more "ruthless" heroes such as the Terminator and James Bond in films, as editors were starting to wonder if readers would prefer a Batman who was willing to kill his opponents.

During DC vs. Marvel, Bane attempts to break Captain America's back in a fight in a similar maneuver, but is caught off-guard when Captain America's shield returns to its owner to strike Bane in the back of the head and knock him out.[6]

Reception[edit]

IGN Comics ranked "Batman: Knightfall, Part One: Broken Bat" #24 on a list of the 25 greatest Batman graphic novels, saying: "What makes 'Knightfall, Part One' so memorable is not the actually snapping of Batman's back. It's the quick fall into despair that proves most shocking. The ending is a foregone conclusion as Batman is worn down both physically and mentally. The Batman's spirit is broken before his vertebrae and that's a feat you'll never see accomplished anywhere else."[7]

Continuity[edit]

The bulk of the events in the Knightfall saga are estimated to take place in the tenth or eleventh year of Batman's career by most reckonings, including official DC timelines. It begins within a few months of Tim Drake assuming the role of the third Robin. Dick Grayson's wedding to Starfire occurs very shortly after Bruce Wayne's injury. It is an election year, and Armand Krol is campaigning for re-election as mayor both before and after the story arc.

The initial scenes of the prelude Sword of Azrael mini-series take place during the Gotham City "Founders Day" parade.

A meeting between Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne on his airplane is explicitly described as the first Post-Crisis out-of-costume interaction between the two.

As the contemporary Batmobile was destroyed in "KnightsEnd", the original Batmobile (with the large hood ornament) was used by Batman and Robin for several issues following. "Knightquest" also introduces Batman's rocket railcar linking the Batcave to the Gotham subway system; it was designed and completed by Harold after his discovery of the cavern passages in Detective Comics #650 ("The Dragon").

In "KnightsEnd", Jean-Paul Valley references his defeat of Marvel Comics' Jigsaw during the Batman/Punisher crossover Lake of Fire. This is a very rare mention of a character from another company in a non-intercompany capacity, made possible by the insanity of Jean-Paul.

Adaptations[edit]

Novels[edit]

Dennis O'Neil adapted the entire storyline trilogy into a 1994 novel which was released by Warner Books in hardcover form and then in mass paperback later on (Hardcover ISBN 0-553-09673-7, Paperback ISBN 0-553-57260-1). A young adults book version was also released, this one written by Alan Grant and titled Batman: Knightfall and Beyond (ISBN 0-553-48187-8).

Animation[edit]

  • The character Bane was quickly added to the roster of villains in Batman: The Animated Series. He appeared in the episode "Bane" as an assassin rather than the mastermind as he was in the comics. He was hired by the mobster Rupert Thorne to eliminate Batman, and in turn by Thorne's moll to eliminate Thorne afterwards. Bane eventually fought Batman on board a boat (where Robin had been kidnapped and tied up), but before he could break his back as he did in the comics, Batman thrusts a crumpled batarang into the controls that inject Bane with Venom. This action caused a rapid and uncontrollable feed into Bane's body before Batman pulls out the tube, stopping a fatal overdose of the drug.
  • The Knightfall saga was loosely adapted in The Batman episode Traction. In this version, Bane lures the Batman into a trap. Batman overpowers Bane in his normal form, but when Bane unleashed his more bestial side, he severely injures Batman and breaks his back off screen. Believing him to be dead, Bane attempts to take over Gotham City. Three weeks after crippling Batman, Bane goes on a rampage through Gotham and knocks out Detective Ellen Yin. As he prepares to kill her, Batman interferes wearing a new mechanical Batsuit (similar to the one Azrael used) and battles Bane. As Bane attempts to unmask Batman and kill him, Batman uses an electrical wire and knocks out Bane with it.

Film[edit]

  • In Justice League: Doom, Bane makes reference to the storyline when he confronts Bruce Wayne above his parents' empty graves, stating: "When we fought before, I broke the bat. Today... I break the man."
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Alfred resigns as Bruce's butler, Bane releases hundreds of criminals; and when Bane and Batman first meet, Bane brutally defeats and cripples him by striking Batman's back with his knee, mirroring the events of the Knightfall saga.

Video Games[edit]

  • In the video game Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu Bane breaks into the batcave to challenge Batman. During this fight if you are caught by Bane he executes the infamous back breaker.
  • The famous back-breaking scene was referenced in Batman: Arkham Asylum, where if the player loses the fight with Bane, one of the death scenes shows Bane breaking Batman over his knee. Another reference is where Batman threatens, "No, Bane. This time, I break you!" before knocking Bane down with the Batmobile.
  • In Lego Batman: The Videogame for the Xbox 360, the achievement Atomic Backbreaker is acquired by using Bane to give Batman the famous back-breaker.
  • An alternate skin for Bane inspired by Knightfall can be unlocked in Injustice: Gods Among Us by rating the mobile app version. Also Bane's super move is known as "Break the Bat", which involves striking his opponents back over his knee.
  • In the video game, Batman: Arkham Origins, exclusive DLC for the PlayStation 3 includes a Batman skin based on the "Knightfall" storyline. It also includes a selection of challenge maps featuring characters & enemies from the storyline. Bane makes reference to "breaking the bat" on a few occasions and in multiplayer, Bane can perform the backbreaker to instantly kill Batman or Robin.

Radio[edit]

Batman: Knightfall
Studio album (radio broadcast)
Released March 5, 2007 (2007-03-05)
Length Disc 1: ~80 min
Disc 2: ~60 min
Disc 3: ~80 min
Label BBC Audio
Producer Dirk Maggs

In 1994, BBC Radio 1 broadcast a radio-play adaptation, later also released on audio-tape (ISBN 0-563-39520-6) and CD by BBC Audiobooks on March 5, 2007. It was adapted, produced and directed by Dirk Maggs, with music composed by Mark Russell, who had recently made Superman: Doomsday & Beyond on BBC Radio 5. This show, however was not commissioned of its own, but rather to be three-minute episodes on the Mark Goodier Show. This meant it was written with a sense of immediacy; having to make an instant effect and each three-minute segment contains a major plot development or sound effect stunt and end on a cliffhanger. DC acknowledged the effort in an issue Shadow of The Bat by having villains jump past a sign that read Dirk Maggs Radio. The radio-play itself contained similar minor allusions to Batman - the host of a TV show called Chuck Dixon and Dennis O'Neil an author of a book.

"Knightfall" was a sequel to Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome also produced for BBC radio by Dirk Maggs.

Its performers are:

Action figures[edit]

In 1994, Kenner released the Legends of Batman action figure collection. This revolved primarily around Elseworlds stories and the modern "Knightfall" era; although, it strangely did not include a Bane figure. The collection lasted two series and corresponded with the Superman: Man of Steel figure line based on "The Death of Superman".

In 2006, DC Direct released a series of figures specifically based on the "Knightfall" saga. This included Jean Paul Valley as Batman, Nightwing, Bane, Catwoman, and the unique "Mask of Tengu" Batman figure.

Collected editions[edit]

Part of the storyline has been collected into a few trade paperbacks. Earlier printings of the "Knightfall" books had covers by Kelley Jones were under the "Knightfall" name and book three was under the "Knightsend" name (with this volume featuring a new cover by Graham Nolan and Brian Stelfreeze). These earlier editions also featured the original cover art/DC Comics monthly ads of the storyline as the chapter headings. The current printings of the three books do not have these cover/ads and solely title the three books under the "Knightfall" name with a similar cover dressing design. These new editions have covers by Mike Deodato.

Parts of the Aftermath storyline had been collected in a trade paperback:

2012 new editions[edit]

Accompanying the release of the movie The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, DC Comics released a new edition of trade paperbacks collecting the Knightfall storyline. While the 1993 editions omitted the complete Knightsquest story arc, the 2012 editions re-release the "The Crusade" part of this arc in volume 2, leaving the "The Search" part still uncollected. In addition, Bane's back story from the one-shot publication Vengeance of Bane is included in the first volume, providing a proper introduction of the character, and volume 3 sees the "KnightsEnd" and "Prodigal" arcs released in a single volume.

  • Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1 (includes all the material collected in 1993s Batman: Knightfall, Part One: Broken Bat and Batman: Knightfall, Part Two: Who Rules the Night with the addition of Vengeance of Bane, 640 pages, paperback 2012, ISBN 978-1401233792)
  • Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 2: Knightquest (includes Detective Comics vol. 1 #667-675, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #19-20, 24-28, Batman vol. 1 #501-508, Catwoman vol. 2 #6-7 and Robin vol. 4 #7, 656 pages, paperback 2012, ISBN 978-1401235369)
  • Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 3: KnightsEnd (includes all material collected in 1993s Batman: Knightfall, Part Three: KnightsEnd and 1998s Batman: Prodigal, 652 pages, ISBN 978-1401237219)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ On the comic book covers, only the third part had its title written in CamelCase, perhaps to keep it from being read as Knight-Send
  2. ^ a b Although included in the trade paperback collected edition, Batman #491 did not carry the "Knightfall" trade dress.
  3. ^ Detective Comics #670 was mis-labeled on its cover as "The Search". It is in fact part of "The Crusade". This was confirmed in the letters page in Detective Comics #674. Per editor Scott Peterson, "we printed the wrong story title on the cover of DETECTIVE #670 (it said "The Search" when it should have said "The Crusade"), and are extremely embarrassed."
  4. ^ Catwoman #6 was mis-labeled on its cover as "The Search". It is in fact part of "The Crusade". This was confirmed in the letters page in Catwoman #10. Per assistant editor Jordan Gorfinkel, "The banner identifying CATWOMAN #6 as "Knightquest: The Search" was our mistake. The banner should have read "Knightquest: The Crusade", as it did on the cover of CATWOMAN #7."
  5. ^ a b c Not included in the trade paperback

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=27788
  2. ^ a b c http://knightfallsaga.angelfire.com/denny.htm
  3. ^ Wizard: The Guide to Comics #35 - publication date July 1994
  4. ^ a b c Beatty, Scott (2008), "Batman", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, London: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 40–44, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5 
  5. ^ depicted in Batman: The Man Who Falls, et al.
  6. ^ Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: Marvel vs DC #2
  7. ^ The 25 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels, Hilary Goldstein, IGN, June 13, 2005