Chuck Dixon is back writing Bane again, but he sees it as a continuation of the character's saga because he "wasn't anywhere near done with the character."
Dixon reunites with one of Bane's other co-creators, Graham Nolan, on Bane: Conquest, the new DC miniseries starting this week. The 12-issue story will take the villain out of Gotham in search of new cities to conquer and new enemies to battle, while also giving Nolan the chance to tweak the character's design.
Newsarama talked with Dixon and Nolan about the chance to work on Bane again and what readers can expect from Bane: Conquest.
Newsarama: Chuck, what was the most compelling part about the prospect of returning to write Bane?
Chuck Dixon: The chance to continue Bane’s saga. I wasn’t anywhere near done with the character. And getting to work on a significant project with Graham was irresistible.
Nrama: What about you, Graham? What was the most compelling thing for you to return to draw Bane?
Graham Nolan: Getting a chance to re-design him a bit and fix aspects that bothered me. In particular, I wanted to return Bane’s mask to my initial design, which had his mouth and nose exposed like a true wrestler’s mask. I think he looks scarier this way, and it gives me and future artists the ability to have him emote in exaggerated and frightening ways.
Nrama: Chuck, why do you think, out of all the Batman villains you touched and/or created over the years, this one really took hold? Was it because he bested Batman?
Dixon: That’s a big part of it. But if he’d been a lame, one-off cardboard villain, Knightfall would not have worked.
Wordplay aside, Bane carried that event on his back. If he was juts some forgettable thug the entire thing would have seemed like a hollow stunt. And Dennis O’Neil insisted to all of us that a hollow stunt was the last thing we wanted from all of us.
So, Graham and I sweated it and really thought and worked hard about what ingredients went into a truly classic, resonant villain.
Nrama: What are the main elements of the character that you think make him stand out from other Bat-villains?
Dixon: Well, he’s not a barrel of laughs. And he does mirror Bruce Wayne more than any other villain. He’s also looking to make his mark globally. This series deals with his desires to rise to the top of the entire world’s underworld.
Nrama: The current "Rebirth" initiative by DC is all about returning characters to their core. How would you describe Bane? What is he at his core?
Dixon: Though he’d never play the victim, that’s what he is. As soon as he had cognitive thought, his first realization was that he had been wronged. And, for the longest time, that was going to be his life until he died.
Imagine that rage. Imagine the control it took to not go insane over that level of monumental injustice. That would make for a really dangerous guy. Bane is all of that. That’s what motivates him to always want to be the guy on top.
Nrama: How do you capture that visually?
Nolan: Bane is a beast with an incredible will to survive. [As Chuck said, Bane] doesn’t see himself as a bad guy. He sees himself as a victim. In his eyes, the world owes him for the injustice of having to serve his father’s prison sentence. When I draw Bane I give him a certain body language. I like to have him physically lord over people. He’s huge, but he is not the Hulk. I picture a 6’6” bodybuilder clocking in around 350 pounds. When he “venoms up,” I don’t draw him getting bigger, just stronger and a little more out of control.
Nrama: Chuck, you said you wanted to "continue Bane's saga." How does this new story do that?
Dixon: It shows him outgrowing Gotham and looking to expand. He’s declaring a world gang war and taking on all the other mobs, cartels, triads and anyone else who stands in his way until he comes up with a pack of bad guys with the kind of power that maybe even bane can’t muscle in on.
Nrama: What other characters will we see in the story?
Dixon: It’s pretty much public knowledge that Batman will be showing up eventually. And Catwoman and a whole ensemble cast of villains, new and familiar.
And Bane’s core gang, Trogg, Bird and Zombie, will be back and play a vital role in the mayhem.
Nrama: Graham, how does it feel to return to some of these classics to draw them again?
Nolan: I’m loving the opportunity to rework and expand on the “terrible trio” - Trogg, Zombie and Bird.
Returning to Batman is like putting on a comfortable sweater. Superman and Batman were always my favorite DC characters. I know them so well, I can, artistically jump into their adventures with no rust or warmups before hitting my stride.
Nrama: How's it been for the two of you to reunite for this story?
Nolan: It’s been a while since Chuck and I did anything together for DC, but we’ve been working together on many other projects over the years. Just last year we did Joe Frankenstein at IDW. I love working with Chuck.
Dixon: It’s always a trip to collaborate with Graham and a special kick to be together again on Bane.
Nolan: We share the same story sensibilities and bring out the best in one another.
Nrama: Graham, can readers expect a similar style (in this story) to your past work on the character, or have you mixed it up a bit for this story?
Nolan: It’s a gritty story so I think readers will see a bolder/rougher edge in my current approach to the art. When I ink my own work, I like a more textured, organic look.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what they can expect from the story?
Dixon: Expect big! This story is packed with action, reversals, betrayals and surprises and some of the best art Graham Nolan has ever put on paper. Did I sound like Stan Lee there for a second?
Nrama: You did! Graham, anything else you want to tell potential readers about Bane: Conquest?
Nolan: There has been a lot of talk in the social media lately about the state of comics and what makes a good comic. If you love a great adventure with cool and interesting characters, boat loads of high octane action and visual storytelling that marries with the narrative then this is the series you’ve been waiting for.