Comic Book Addictions – Part 2 – Bane
Bane and Venom: A Steroid on Steroids
Last week we took a look at vampirism in comparison to drug addiction, and covered two comic-book characters that struggle with vampirism in much the same way that addicts struggle with their addiction. This week, we are looking at one of the strongest villains Gotham City has ever known: Bane. Though the Christopher Nolan version of Bane was creative, the character portrayed in the Dark Knight Rises did not deal with the character’s crippling addiction to the drug Venom.
Bane’s history began as a prisoner on the island prison of Peña Duro. Despite his appearance of being an enormous, muscly, luchador wrestler, Bane is actually incredibly intelligent and well-read; transcending the assumption of being a simple meat-head. In fact, the comics regard Bane as a genius-level intellectual, which is shown through his various interactions with Batman and his various side-kicks. Being fluent in multiple languages, as well as highly proficient in subjects such as history, medicine, and numerous sciences, what could possibly be such a man’s weakness? The answer is addiction.
Venom is a performance enhancing drug that Bane uses to make himself more powerful. Though already possessing immense physical prowess, Venom turns Bane into a hulking mass of muscle and strength. After an experiment that forced a derivative of Venom into Bane’s system, his body became highly dependent on the substance which only increased the more he used it.
In the comic books, Bane is drawn with tubes filled with bright-green liquid flowing through it, extending from the back of his mask, into his back, arms, and waist. These tubes provide a direct and constant flow of Venom into Bane’s system allowing him to constantly maintain his strength and size, keeping his “high” constant.
One interesting trait about Venom is that it is fast acting; providing a nearly instantaneous effect. Without the Venom, Bane’s muscles shrivel, he shrinks, and the majority of his strength is gone. These traits make the fantasy-drug very similar to what we face in the real world with drugs like Cocaine and Heroin.
With both of these drugs the “high” comes immediately, and when an addict of these drugs is suffering withdrawal symptoms the act of taking these substances again can make them feel strong. They could feel like they’re down, sad, depressed, only the drug (only the Venom) makes them feel good. Only the drug gives them the strength to handle reality.
Venom and Illicit Drugs
Much like Bane’s reliance on Venom, both Cocaine and Heroin force their victims to be physically dependent on them to the point that they are incapable of feeling normal without the high. While getting his constant influx of Venom, Bane is incredibly powerful, strong enough to beat Batman on multiple occasions, and at one point crowns himself as the king of Gotham City’s underworld. This same feeling of being “on top of the world” is how addicts feel during their high, unaware of just how damaging the drugs in their system can be.
But even Bane, a criminal kingpin, powerful combatant, and Venom addict, was able to kick his addiction with the help of others and through his own perseverance. Granted, the comics have been rewritten a plethora of times, but it is still inspiring to see a figure so reliant on something forge a new path by getting clean.