The Dark Knight Reads: Fifteen Essential Batman Graphic NovelsThe Bat-books that formed a hero
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8. 'Batman: Knightfall'
This was Bane's big break. This very, very 1990s crossover event by a small army of writers and artists was the come-up for the future Dark Knight Rises villain, created by Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench and Graham Nolan. The masked muscleman on super-steroids softens Batman up by freeing all his enemies from Arkham Asylum, then swoops in to finish the job by breaking the Dark Knight's back; an armor-clad replacement Batman is left to take up the fight. Beyond the back-breaking gimmick and the typical mainstream superhero-comic cheesiness, though, you'll find crackerjack pacing, a slew of Batman's best bad guys and a surprisingly effective exploration of a hero pushed past his breaking point.