REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "COLLECT & CONNECT" BANE
He's big, he's bad, he once broke the Bat, and the Joker once had the nerve to call him a "WWF reject". His name is BANE, and he's the Collect & Connect figure in the sixteenth wave of Mattel's DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS action figures, a wave with enough peculiarity about it that completing Bane was about the only reason I bought a couple of the figures in that wave. For more details on that, see my individual reviews of those figures, especially The Creeper and Robin.
There was a Bane figure in the predecessor to the DC Universe Classics line, Mattel's DC Super-Heroes, which was decidedly Batman-Superman-centric. But much like Darkseid, who was given a Collect & Connect several waves ago, it's been generally thought that this original Bane figure simply wasn't large enough, especially with the induction of the Collect & Connects. And so, Bane finally and deservedly joins the big boys
Let's consider some of the history of Bane, with a little online research assistance.
Bane first appeared in "Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1" in January of 1993, and was created by Chick Dixon, Doug Moench, and Graham Nolan. According to his creators, Bane was originally intended as a "dark mirror" of the highly-disciplined and multi-skilled pulp hero Doc Savage. The character of Bane was initially created specifically for the "Knightfall" storyline.
Bane was born in the fictional Caribbean republic of Santa Prisca, in a prison called Pena Dura ("Hard Rock"). His father had been a revolutionary and had escaped Santa Prisca's court system/ The corrupt government decreed that his young son would serve out the man's life sentence, and this Bane's childhood and early adult life are spent in the penitentiary environment.
Though imprisoned, his natural abilities allow him to develop extraordinary skills within the prison's walls. He reads as many books as he can get his hands on, builds up his body in the prison's gym, and learns to fight in the merciless school of prison life. Despite his circumstances, he finds teachers of various sorts during his incarceration, ranging from hardened convicts to an elderly Jesuit priest, under whose tutelage he apparently receives a classical education.
Bane commits his first murder at the age of eight, stabbing a criminal who wanted to use him to gain information about the prison. During his years in prison, Bane carries a teddy bear he calls Osito (Spanish for "little bear"), whom he considers his only friend. It is revealed that Osito has a hole in his back to hold a knife that Bane uses against anyone who bullies him. Not a bad friend to have in a place like that, if you ask me...
Bane ultimately establishes himself as the "king" of Pena Dura prison. The prison's controllers take note and eventually force him to become a test subject for a mysterious drug known as Venom, which had killed all other subjects. The Pena Dura prison Venom experiment nearly kills Bane at first, but he survives and finds the drug vastly increases his physical strength, although he needs to take it every 12 hours, via a system of tubes pumped directly into his brain, or he would suffer debilitating side-effects.
Soon after the initial experiments Bane escapes Pena Dura. His ambition turns to destroying Batman, whom he had heard tales of while serving his sentence. He is fascinated with Gotham City because, like the prison, it is a place where fear rules; in this case, fear of Batman. Bane is convinced that the demonic bat that has haunted his dreams since childhood is a representation of the Batman.
Aware that a direct assault on Batman would be foolish, Bane destroys the walls of Arkham Asylum, allowing its lunatic inmates to escape into Gotham City, where Batman spends three months rounding them up. Running himself to exhaustion, Batman returns to Wayne Manor, where Bane awaits him, having determined Batman's secret identity. Bane fights Batman in the Batcave, defeats him and delivers the final blow: Bane breaks Batman's back, leaving him paralyzed for an extended period of time.
While Bane establishes himself as the ruler of Gotham's criminal underworld, Bruce Wayne passes the mantle of Batman to Jean-Paul Valley, known as Azrael. Using a sophisticated combat suit in place of the traditional Batman uniform, Valley fights and defeats Bane at the end of the "Knightfall" storyline, severing the tubes that pump the Venom into Bane's bloodstream, causing severe withdrawal. Valley then gives the weakened Bane a vicious beating, leaving him alive but broken.
Following the events of "Knightfall", Bane recovers from his Venom addiction while serving time in Blackgate Prison. He eventually escapes from prison and returns to Gotham, where he fights alongside Batman to take out a criminal ring that is distributing a Venom derivative to street-level thugs. Following a victory over the criminals, and the revelation that behind it is the same doctor that performed the experiments on Bane in Santa Prisca, Bane proclaims that he is innocent of his past crimes and urges Batman to stop hunting him. He then leaves Gotham to begin a search for his father.
Bane returns to Santa Prisca and questions the same Jesuit priest who had taught him as a child. The man explains that there were four men who could possibly have been his father: a Santa Priscan revolutionary, an American doctor, an English mercenary, and a Swiss banker. While searching for the Swiss man in Rome, Bane encounters the League of Assassins and eventually impresses Ra's al Ghul so much that he chooses Bane as his "heir".
Bane and al Ghul than launch a plague attack on Gotham in the "Legacy" storyline. With Bruce Wayne once again costumed as Batman, the two have a rematch, and the original Batman finally defeats Bane in single combat.
Bane continues to appear, generally when least expected. He surfaces in the "No Man's Land" story, serving under Lex Luthor, destroying Gotham city records to Luthor's advantage, and working as an enforcer during Luthor's plan to rebuild the city. Batman convinces Bane to leave the city after a confrontation between Bane and the Joker.
Bane continues his search for his father, and in researching the possibility that his father is the aforementioned American doctor, comes to the conclusion that his father may have been Dr. Thomas Wayne, and so he and Batman share the same biological father. Batman allows Bane to stay at Wayne Manor while DNA tests are conducted, and Bane fights alongside Batman during this time. Ultimately, it is revealed that Dr. Wayne is not Bane's father, and Bane leaves Gotham peacefully with with Batman's blessing and financial assistance.
Bane eventually finds his father, who turns out to be a villain known as King Snake. Bane, with Batman looking on, helps foil King Snake's plans to unleash a powerful weapon upon the world. Bane is mortally wounded in the process, but Batman saves him by placing him in a Lazarus Pit, leaving him with a clean slate and a new opportunity at life.
Bane resurfaces in the One Year Later continuity of JSA Classified, and then turns up in the Suicide Squad for a time, before being among the villains transported to an alien planet in the Salvation Run mini-series.
Most recently, Bane has been a member of the Secret Six, appearing in their title. He is generally portrayed as a stoic devil's advocate for the group, offering alternative points of view on various actions. He shows an almost father-like concern for the team leader, Scandal Savage, and her well-being. At one point, when the Six are attacked by an army of super-villains, Bane's concern for Scandal results on temporarily breaking his vow to never take Venom again in order to save her.
Bane is later shown to have recovered from his ordeal, appearing in Gotham City with Catman and Ragdoll in an attempt to stem some of the chaos caused by the apparent death of Batman. During the team's several escapades, Bane reveals a deep respect for his onetime adversary. He ultimately gives his blessing to Dick Grayson, praying that "God help him".
As to his powers and abilities, Bane is highly intelligent. Ra's al Ghul says that Bane "has a mind equal to the greatest I have known". In prison, he taught himself various scientific disciplines equal to the level of understanding of leading experts in those fields. He knows six active languages and at least two additional arcane and dead ones. He also has a photographic memory.
Although an extremely dangerous individual, Bane is perfectly sane and in control of his mind and actions, unlike some of Batman's other adversaries. Although generally regarded as a villain, Bane has worked alongside Batman at times. He is also highly devious and a superb strategist and tactician.
His physical skills are just as considerable, Venom or no Venom. In prison, Bane invented his own form of calisthenics, meditation, and a unique fighting style. Usage of Venom enhanced his physical abilities, including his strength and healing process, but even without the drug, he's a massive physical specimen. Although Bane has sworn off the drug and his character has kept that promise, except for the one sequence in Secret Six, it is not unheard of for artists to draw Bane still wearing the tube leading from his wrist device to the back of his head. These illustrative lapses have been explained in Secret Six, where Deadshot remarked that Bane merely kept his old equipment with him out of habit.
And it's a good thing there's an explanation for it, because the figure is thusly equipped. So, how's the figure?
Extremely impressive -- and big. Now, he's not as big as some. Atom Smasher and Giganta are still the tallest Collect & Connect's ever made, but we should consider the fact that both of those characters are known for having growth powers. Bane doesn't. He's just plain big.
Bane measures 8" in height. This for a line where a standard-size male figure stands 6-3/4". Interestingly, his head is about the same size as a standard-size head for a male figure in the DCUC line. It's the rest of his body that's massive, especially the torso. Bane is also an entirely distinctive figure, as most of the Collect-&-Connects are.
Bane doesn't really wear a traditional super-type suit. Joker's comment about Bane being a "WWF reject" isn't too far off visually. He looks like some sort of super-sized masked wrestler. Could he fit in with Mattel's excellent line of WWE action figures? Well -- almost. I have a couple of these, and while they're not quite to scale with DCUC, they're pretty close. Bane's physique is obviously exaggerated to the point of implausibility, but if you wanted to have a little fun and set up a handicap match with Bane taking on -- let's say, Undertaker and Big Show -- and probably winning -- it might just work. You can almost hear one of the commentators saying, "Good Lord, look at the size of this man. Undertaker is 6' 9" and Bane just towers over him!"
Anyway -- Bane is dressed in a black tank top, black trousers, and black boots. None of these are designed to be tight-fitting. The tank top is an interesting design. It was actually created as a separate piece, molded from flexible black plastic, and fitted over the upper torso. Nice touch, really. When Bane moves at the mid-torso point, the tank top adjusts accordingly.
Bane's trousers are fairly tight-fitting, but not like super-spandex. There are appropriate wrinkles and seams sculpted into the design, very effectively.
Bane's boots are especially impressive. They look like a combination of a combat boot and a wrestling boot. Stitched seams are visible across every part of them, and both boots have a series of complex laces, complete with little silver-painted eyelets in the boots. The boots really do a great job of showcasing the sort of precision detail that the design and sculpting team of the Four Horsemen are prepared to go through to create really great-looking action figures. There is also a complex tread pattern on the soles of the boots.
Bane is wearing a belt, a sort of dull metallic gray, around his waist. It is segmented, with a circular buckle with a red dot in the center. Unusual as part of Bane's costume, it's probably the most high-tech-looking part of his outfit, the Venom device notwithstanding. Pretty much everything else wears, the mask notwithstanding (and I'm not certain about that) looks like clothing that could conceivably be bought in the workmen's or athletic wear section of a Big & Tall Men's Store. But not the belt.
Bane is wearing black gloves, with bare knuckles, backs, and fingers. His hands are both clenched into fists. There is a small series of "holes" painted into the backs of the fingers on both gloves, and these have been very neatly detailed with little flesh-colored dots. This is work that cannot have been easy to do, and it is superbly well done. The painters at the factory deserve a lot of credit -- and probably a well-earned break.
Bane is an extremely muscular individual, and as he is not wearing much of a shirt, this is especially evident on his torso and arms. He is a rather wide individual, and his musculature is probably a physical impossibility. If it were somewhat bigger, you could almost use this body as a template for a figure of the Hulk. However exaggerated it might be, the detail work is nevertheless very precise. If it were possible for a person to build himself up to this size, this is what he would look like.
Attached to the left wrist is the Venom delivery device. Although Bane has since overcome his addiction to this substance, clearly Mattel wanted to portray Bane in a classic sense, and so he is thusly equipped. The device is attached to his wrist, and is mostly black, with a few silver and green details, and a red activation button. There is a ridged, transparent green hose that runs up his arm, to a connection point on the bicep, held in place by a small strap that is mostly molded as part of the arm, and then the rest of the way to a hole in the back of Bane's head that is part of the delivery apparatus that also includes some small light green cables.
It's a nice piece of work, especially when you consider the fact that since Bane is a Collect & Connect figure, the head and the left arm are technically sold separately, although obviously the figure was designed as a single unit.
Since Bane's costume is mostly black, it's a little tricky to get too much color out of him,but his gloves and boots have been given a gloss black finish to them, as opposed to the more matte-like color of the shirt and trousers. I believe the implication here is that Bane's gloves and boots are leather, and the rest of his clothes are fabric. It works well.
Then there's Bane's mask, easily the most identifiable aspect of his character. Bane, although he has been shown unmasked any number of times, traditionally wears a mask that covers his entire face. It is mostly black, with a white triangle running from the bridge of the nose to the base of the jaw, and two white extensions that look a bit like angular "Spider-Man"-style eyes emerging from the triangle and out to the sides, with red "eyes" in the middle of each "eye" area. As ever with such things, it's sort of left up to the imagination and a certain "willing suspension of disbelief" to figure out how Bane actually sees through this, but it certainly creates a fearsome enough visage.
The mask is molded as the head, of course, and is painted very neatly. There's also a silver zipper molded into the top.
For the most part, Bane was an easy assembly. The one part that did give me some trouble was the head. I'm not saying this is going to be the case with everybody, but the neck joint is just a little narrow, but the spherical end of it, part of the ball-and-socket assembly, with the "socket" being within Bane's head, is a very tight fit, and I was honestly a little concerned about literally breaking Bane's neck before I finally got the head into place. Don't get me started on the irony of breaking the neck of the guy who broke the Bat's back. Should you face a similar difficulty, I might recommend just a little bit of WD-40 inside Bane's cranium.
Bane has excellent articulation, and I was especially pleased with the fact that Mattel did NOT inflict any sort of double-jointed articulation on the arms and legs of this figure, given the degree to which they did so on far too many other figures in this wave, pretty well ruining The Creeper and Robin in the process to various degrees.
Bane is an excellent figure, with the proper range of articulation, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
So, what's my final word? Bane is an awesome figure, and I'm sincerely pleased that he's joined the DC Universe Classics collection. As a fan of the Secret Six title, this now fives us two members of that particular team, since we got Deadshot a while back. Now, if we could just get Catman and maybe Ragdoll (the only character in the entire DC Universe that I could justifiably say merits double-articulated limbs) into this line, I'd be most pleased.
And, of course, given his history, Bane adds another of Batman's adversaries to the collection, as well, and there's been no shortage of them throughout the various waves, including Penguin, Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Two-Face, and a few others.
Bane IS a Collect & Connect, and as such you sort of have to acquire the entire Wave 16 of DC Universe Classics in order to assemble Bane, and that's the only real problem. There's a few figures in that wave that I find it difficult to recommend. However, there's always the online community. You might be able to buy or trade for parts from someone not interested in Bane, or sell the figures you're not that interested in once you've got your Bane parts. Whatever the case, Bane is definitely worth it. He's big, he's well-made, he's an excellent likeness of the character, he's properly-articulated, and he's an excellent addition to the DC Universe Classics collection.
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "Collect & Connect" figure of BANE definitely has my highest recommendation!