He escaped the brutal Peña Duro prison. He discovered the identity of the World's Greatest Detective and then broke the Bat. He is Bane, and he's the next Dark Knight villain starring in the Batman: One Bad Day slate of oversized one-shot issues from DC. Titled "The LAST Vengeance of Bane" -- which, as Bane fans know, is a nod to his first appearance in Batman: The Vengeance of Bane #1 and the sequel Batman: The Vengeance of Bane #2 -- the upcoming comic is written by Joshua Williamson, illustrated by Howard Porter, colored by Tomeu Morey, and lettered by Steve Wands.
With the Dec. 4 pre-order deadline for Batman: One Bad Day - Bane quickly approaching, CBR caught up with Williamson and Porter for an exclusive, in-depth chat all about Bane's big comic while also revealing brand-new artwork from the comic and a new villain. The team delved into the inspiration behind "Old Man Bane" and its themes, looked back on Knightfall, and Williamson even spoke a bit about his newly announced Green Arrow series from the Dawn of DC slate for 2023.
CBR: First and foremost, 2023 will be Bane's 30th anniversary, so having this issue release in January feels appropriate. Before we talk about your upcoming story, I'd love to hear about both of your reactions the first time you read Knightfall and/or Batman: Vengeance of Bane. What do you believe makes this such a compelling villain that has stood the test of time?
Joshua Williamson: The hype around Knightfall was intense and well-earned. I still feel like it's one of the absolute best Batman events of all time and one of my favorite Batman stories. Obviously, it was a massive success and had a big impact on the Batman to this day. I was just a kid then, and the book had a lasting impression on me and my Batman fandom. I can't believe it's been 30 years!
When Knightfall started, I hadn't been able to find a copy of Vengeance of Bane yet. It was sold out everywhere. It was a HOT book. Thankfully, DC did a second print, and I was able to grab a copy. I was blown away. It's one of the best introductions of a new character in DC ever. I 100% understood who Bane was, his motivations, and why he was coming for Batman. It was a nuanced story that had a lot of layers to unpack to it. There were bits and pieces of that story that revealed themselves to me after many, many re-reads.
Bane is, in some ways, Batman's equal. They share a lot of traits, [like] how they used trauma to overcome and better themselves. It really allowed his origin to breathe. You saw him come up from this awful situation and become Bane. That was uncommon at the time. He exploded into the Batman world in a big way. Within the first year of his introduction, he broke the Batman! In wrestling terms… Batman put him over! That was a big deal and part of why he was so popular so fast. It was so strong that his whole lasting legacy is based on that one moment…
Since then, there have been a LOT of great stories with Bane. He was a very strong presence in the Batman lines for nearly 10 years. After that, the great stories done by Tom King and Gail Simone come to mind as they continued to develop him and his own mythology.
The biggest challenge when this one-shot was presented to me [was that] the greatest Bane one-shot of all time already existed. How do I even add to that?
Howard Porter: Thirty years is so long ago that I don't recall. When I read them at the start of this project, it was like reading it the first time. Unfortunately, it has taken me about that long to finish this project, so I have forgotten again and will re-read them after this interview! I assure you, I will be completely surprised and thrilled by Batman's defeat, which is what makes Bane stand the test of time.
I appreciate how you guys handled all the mandatory exposition about Bane's origin during his wrestling match. Where did that idea come from, Joshua, and why did you want to go with Bane out of Batman's amazing roster of villains? Howard, what was it like packing so much story and emotion into so many smaller panels while also jumping back and forth from the past and the present?
Williamson: DC knew my love of Bane. I've talked about it a few times over the years, but I never had the chance to really write him. So, DC came to me with this and with the idea of working with Howard on it. Two things that I love: Bane and Howard Porter. No way could I turn that down. Howard and I have worked together a few times over the years, so I knew he could knock that sequence out of the park.
I wanted to move on from the origin pieces of Bane, as again, that's been covered. Once I knew we were going to open with the wrestling, it all made sense. Use that to tell the story in a different way than one might expect. It allowed me to use a different kind of comic book storytelling shorthand to get us to the meat of the new story we were telling.
Porter: I thought it was brilliant how Josh mixed the flashbacks shots with the current scene, matching the action shots and so forth. Those pages have a musical rhythm to the pacing that plays with emotion and tension and builds to that last panel that makes you itch to see the next page.
Joshua, what's the origin story behind wanting to tell a story with "Old Man Bane" while also delving into his past? Without spoiling anything, what themes are you hoping to convey while also unleashing a ton of action? Howard, what was it like bringing two completely different versions of the villain to life?
Williamson: It was a mix of things. Again, I didn't want to rehash the origin. Vengeance of Bane is sort of "Bane: Year One," anyway.
Last year I was watching Wrestlemania, and at the start of the show, Triple H came out to the ring to set his boots down. Triple H is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. It was an emotional moment as he had some intense health issues the year before and was forced to retire. He never got to have his last match, but it was for the best. For his family, the sacrifice was worth it. Watching him leave his boots in the ring made me think about what we consider to be our "life's greatest moments" and our ideas on legacy. Then it hit me. "The LAST Vengeance of Bane." This wouldn't be "Year One" -- this would be "Dark Knight Returns."
It became a story about someone trying to recapture the greatest moment of their life and how it was impossible to do. Then I had the story, and it all came together in my head pretty quickly after that. Then I had to find the balance between the future storyline and the present-day one. How to make it so the issue had pieces that we could then continue into present-day stories if we wanted. Bane's original look was partially based on lucha libre, so it made sense to me to bring him into that world. Also, Bane and his crew were based on Doc Savage. In some ways, he's an evil version of Doc Savage. I wanted to get back to the root of all those pieces, and doing an "Old Man Bane" story seemed like the best place to do that.
Porter: It was a bit of a challenge to make Bane even more gnarly than we have seen him, trying to convey the years of abuse his body has endured through his posture and movement. I quite enjoyed playing with the darkness and solitude he is comfortable living in and then putting him through his worst day. In contrast, when we see him young, we see him through his own eyes, and it has a [more] violent, dreamlike quality than the more grounded current take.
Joshua and Howard, what do you believe are essential elements to writing and illustrating a memorable Bane story, and how did you take this into account when crafting Batman: One Bad Day - Bane?
Williamson: You need Bane to be Bane. You must show that he's calculating. This is a person who spent a long time in isolation, a long time alone with their thoughts. That has to show with his character -- that he speaks in short clips, and he's often in his head, thinking many moves ahead. He's not some meathead who just fights. He broke Batman down long before he broke his back. You have to say something about Bane but also about Batman. When Bane was imprisoned as a kid, he'd have these nightmares about a giant Bat. That bat became the manifestation of his fears. It became the thing he needed to conquer. It's what started his obsession with Batman, to begin with. You have to dive into that obsession when you write him.
Porter: Josh found something in Bane that at least some of us can relate to -- his purpose, his feelings of emptiness, a quest for meaning, and most importantly, savage action. I also threw in the green goop and explosions for good measure.
Joshua, Bane's history with venom -- his cycle of being addicted to it and rejecting it -- has been explored quite a bit over the years. Talk about what you're hoping to bring to that journey for the foe and why you wanted to go in that direction. Howard, what were some of the biggest challenges behind drawing characters enhanced with venom, and what were some of the biggest thrills?
Williamson: You can't really tell a Bane story of this scale without exploring that part of his history. I wanted to bridge Bane's story with the original classic "Venom" story from Legends of the Dark Knight that introduced the drug, to begin with. Addiction is not something you just leave behind and never deal with again. It becomes something you deal with every day. Here, when Bane is older, it's still part of him and the new journey we're sending him on. It was important to explore what that meant to him at that stage of his life.
Porter: Well, the obvious answer is what we call in the business drawing the old "venom-veins." Those pesky buggers can keep you working late into the night if you get too carried away! I did have a blast designing venom-villains, each one bigger and grosser than the last, digging deep into my memories of the old black-and-white horror comics of my youth. The biggest thrill was dragging Bane all over the world and trying with all our might to break him.
Why should fans of the character be excited about Batman: One Bad Day - Bane?
Williamson: If you're a Bane fan and have followed the character over the years, this is for you. It explores his history, the themes that have been there since the start. It showcases why he's such a badass and why he was the man to break the Bat. We treat the character and his world with honor, and you get to see the insane art done by Howard and Tomeu [Morey]. They really killed it on this issue.
Porter: I believe they will enjoy the ride. It's filled with insane action, drama, new characters, old ones with a twist... We put that fella through the paces and then some, physically and emotionally. Fans will walk away feeling like they know Bane better than they ever did, and who knows, maybe he may move up their ranks and take their number one Batman villain spot.
Thanks for your time, guys! Is there anything else you'd like to say to all the comic fans reading this interview?
Williamson: This oversized issue also introduces a new villain, but not really a Batman villain. This is a member of Bane's rogues' gallery. The character's name is Grudge. They have the ability to pump anyone they touch with a deadly amount of venom. This issue is their first appearance, and maybe, just maybe, they appear in another DC title in the future.
Porter: I love you.
Joshua, you're also writing Superman next year, and you've spoken about your appreciation for the Man of Steel's rogues' gallery, especially Lex Luthor. The Dawn of DC announcement also revealed you're writing Green Arrow -- congrats! Since we're talking about villains, what do you enjoy about the Emerald Archer's history of foes, and can you tease who you may have plans for? Personally speaking, I've been itching to see a reminder of just how dangerous Constantine Drakon can be...
Williamson: Thanks! Haha, yeah. I love Constantine Drakon. I already had them in Robin a bit last year. I don't want to get too deep into Green Arrow yet, but a LOT of his rogues will be in the series. Just like every book I work on, I try to use all the mythology on the table. With Green Arrow, I want to level up a few bad guys and show why they are deadly. It's going to surprise people who the real villain of that series is.
Batman: One Bad Day - Bane is available for pre-order now at comic shops and goes on sale Jan. 17, 2023.