In the early nineties, the event was the thing in comics.
Several high profile sales of rare comics had brought tons of people to comic book stores to purchase comics as collectibles / investments. You could call it the ‘heyday’ of comic sales. Yuppies with disposable income disposing of it.
If you were in comics at the time, there was plenty of money to be made. Conventions were everywhere, tables were cheap, and people were collecting just about anything they could get their hands on that might be valuable later. (They missed the point. Horribly. The comics that were selling for so much money were doing so because they were -rare-. Rare meaning few copies existed anymore. But if everyone is buying three copies of the same book and squirreling two away in hermetically sealed closets for the future then, guess what? They ain’t gonna be worth anything ‘later’.)
The publisher’s answered this trend of people buying tons of comics with events; multi-issue and cross title mega-crossovers that went on for months, sometimes full years. These events often were ‘life shattering’ for the characters involved, touched all corners of their universe, or the publisher’s universe, had all sorts of tricked out and special covers that included multiple versions and holograms – whatever kitschy thing they could do to garner interest and make the books ‘collectible’.
I’m not a fan of these events. I can understand why the publishers did it – from their perspective, it makes all sorts of sense; the whole thing boosted sales of popular titles, they also boosted the sales of unpopular or new titles. Example: I had to buy PowerPack to complete some Marvel mega-crossover. POWERPACK, PEOPLE!
The publishers obviously wanted us to buy the poorly performing comic, which is why they tied it into the overall mega-crossover of the more popular title. They probably hoped that some of us who bought that title to complete the story, would stick around for a while. I won’t say it never worked with me, but it rarely worked – which is a huge distinction. I stuck with two such titles: Robin and Catwoman. Both set in the DC/Batman universe and both were part of the trilogy of ‘Knight’ mega-crossovers that began with: Knightfall.
The sitch: Batman/Bruce Wayne is overworked. There’s a new guy in town and he’s causing all sorts of trouble. Goes by the name of ‘Bane’. He’s testing the Bat. Testing his limits, his stamina, trying to figure him out and how to beat him. To further his ends, he breaks everyone out of Arkham Asylum and turns them loose on the streets of Gotham, forcing Batman to go into overdrive to stop them all.
Batman being Batman, he tries to do everything himself. (Remember, there’s a reason Dick Grayson left – Cuz Batman is an ahole). He has Robin working with Azrael (Jean-Paul), a new vigilante in town that Batman thinks could be an ally if he’s reigned in, which means Robin isn’t working with Batman, which makes Robin a whiny bitch. (Honestly, I like Tim Drake. He’s more like Dick than Jason, and that’s a good thing.)
All sorts of bad guys are on the loose, making all sorts of trouble for the Bat, and not giving him any breaks from one super-villain battle to the next.
Battles with Joker, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Firefly and many others, one after the other, take their toll. After all, he is only one man.
Bane uses the battles to his advantage, waiting like a spider in a web. He studies everything and comes to realize Batman is Bruce Wayne. When he feels the time is right, he attacks.
Batman returns home to find Bane waiting for him in Wayne Manor. Weary physically and mentally, Batman is no match for Bane, who pretty much wipes the floor of the Batcave with him.
In the end, though, he does not kill him. He prefers to break him (DC also prefers not to kill off their second most popular character ever. At least not until the 21st century, anyway…).
His back broken, Bane assuming control of Gotham City, things looking really bad – Batman chooses a successor to wear the cape and cowl and protect the city while he recuperates.
In one of the worst decisions he’s ever made, he chooses Jean-Paul/Azrael to be Batman in his absence. It should’ve been Dick Grayson.
The decision would come back to haunt not only Bruce Wayne, but everyone he cares for and the city he protects. But that is another story.