Brandon Borzelli's Geek Goggle Reviews
Batman #497 (From The Vault)
Moench, Aparo, Giordano & Roy
This issue represents the breaking of the Bat. This is chapter eleven of the Knighfall storyline and is by far the most pivotal issue. This comic doesn't quite stand up to the test of time and that is mostly because of the storytelling technique that Moench uses. The book is a good visual display but doesn't quite ring out as anything memorable. While this is an exciting storyline, this issue turns out to be very awkward and only slightly above average when read as a standalone. This is not the best issue of Batman to keep handy in your vault unfortunately.
The best part of the book occurs in the very beginning. A tired, sick, weary and worn-out Batman enters his house from the Batcave entrance. Too tired to change, he simply pulls his cowl down and throws on a scarlet colored robe over his costume. There waiting for him is Bane. Bane's figured out Batman's identity and means to be the end of the gauntlet that has run Batman ragged for these past few issues.
The dialogue is very good. Bane shows himself to be intelligent and driven. He simply wants Gotham because he wants it. There is no grand plan beyond breaking down Batman to get it. Bruce is shocked at the brutality and lack of feeling towards all the life that's been lost as a result of Bane's actions. Batman appears to be on the verge of tears. When it becomes clear Bane means to end Bruce, he pulls off the robe, pulls up the cowl and becomes the Batman again.
However, the rest of the book Bane simply delivers an epic beat-Sdown on Batman. Perhaps Batman lands one punch, but for the most part, Bane drags him around the cave and simply pummels him. The book fails in two areas here. First, no one's interpretation has Batman putting up this little of a fight, especially in his own cave. Secondly, Moench decides to provide inner monologue over the fight with Bruce going on into great detail about how he's given up. It just doesn't feel like Batman to me.
Of course the final two pages are shocking and brutal but not in a gory way. To watch Batman finally get snapped is a tough thing to look at even all these years later. Bane truly looks invincible at the end of this comic.
Aparo on art does a great job of capturing the set-up and the fight. The panel of Bruce whimpering in his robe as Bane explains how little he cares about the people of Gotham is a fantastic panel. Then, to watch Bruce transform himself into the Batman is simply an awesome image. However, the comic does take a downturn during the fight with the lack of details, specifically in the backgrounds. I am sure this has to do with keeping the focus on the fighting but it just feels like the characters are fighting in a void sometimes. The final images are the most memorable in the book, if not the whole storyline.
Batman 497 is a collector's item. Any speculator from the 90s worth their salt has this comic book. It's a cool book and I am sure you can find a copy dirt-cheap. When read in a bubble this comic doesn't stand up to the test of time. It's a good story but not a great one. I would recommend reading the entire Knightfall storyline rather than this book by itself.
3 out of 5 Geek Goggles