With his first two
In the first film,
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"Batman Begins" loosely followed
And since every copy of
After years of lying low, Batman (
Much like other villains Nolan has used, Bane and Catwoman have storied histories in the funnybooks. And if you want to bone up on these characters before the movie hits theaters Friday, here are a few graphic novels you should check out.
Batman: Knightfall Vol.1, DC Comics, $29.99
If there is anything you should know about Bane, it's that he broke Batman. Literally, as in "Bane broke his back." In this "re-mastered" trade paperback — which collects issues from "Batman," "Detective Comics," "DC Showcase '93" and "Batman: Shadow of the Bat" — Batman meets Bane, a ruthless crime lord whose size, strength and speed are second only to his genius. Think Hannibal Lecter on steroids. Again, not a euphemism: Bane is on a steroid called Venom that empowers his already hulking form (Nolan replaced the steroid with a pain-killing gas in the movie). Now, you'd think that would be enough to take out Batman. But just to be safe, Bane releases all the crazies from Arkham Asylum, forcing Batman to waste time and energy recapturing them. It's only when Batman returns home, exhausted, that Bane strikes, beating and then breaking Batman, forcing him into retirement. Also included is the "Vengeance of Bane" one-shot, which answers the question: How does someone end up a murderous, calculating behemoth? Hint: Growing up inside a South American prison helps.
Catwoman: Nine Lives of a Feline Fatale,
DC Comics, $14.95
If ever there were a character in need of a career counselor, it's Selina Kyle. A brief summary of her work history includes: International jewel thief. Government agent. Bounty hunter. Vigilante covering Gotham's East End. She even put in work as a prostitute in Miller's "Batman: Year One" series. Thankfully, the good folks at DC Comics, in a well-meaning effort to promote the stinker that was
Batman Versus Bane by Chuck Dixon, Illustrated by Graham Nolan, DC Comics, $12.99
Yes, you get the same "Vengeance of Bane" one-shot you'd find in "Batman: Knightfall." But you also get "Batman: Bane of the Demon." As Bane searches for his actual father, our protagonist meets Ra's Al Ghul, who decides that Bane should not only succeed him as head of the League of Assassins, but also see to the destruction of Gotham City. Sound familiar? If not, that's your cue to order "Batman Begins" on Netflix.
Catwoman: Selina's Big Score, written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, DC Comics, $17.95
Selina returns to her thieving, robbing roots in this stylish bit of crime noir from Eisner Award-winner Darwyn Cooke. There's a train carrying millions in mob money en route to Canada. Selina's job? Hit the truck. Steal the cash. Get out clean. Sounds easy enough, sure, but where's the fun in that? Cue in the double-crosses, dead gangster molls, criminal ex-lovers and a Javert-esque P.I. named Slam Bradley. It's campy. It's over-the-top. It's everything wrong and wonderful about comic books because, at the end of the day, it's about a thief named Selina who does one last job, thinking that it will set her up for life and send her home. Hey, wasn't that the premise of
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, written and illustrated by Frank Miller (with Klaus Janson), DC Comics, $14.95
At some point, the Dark Knight himself should be discussed, and perhaps the best way to do that is to look at "The Dark Knight Returns." Originally published in 1986, Frank Miller's four-issue series (and collected paperback) stands alongside Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's