I’ll only describe each in a nutshell, because Mike does such a great job that I couldn’t possibly do them justice.
The Combat Monster is self-reliant, a brutal force of nature, with ambition, cunning, and an array of flunkies.
The Mastermind has a plan, a goal, bides his time and resources to execute his plan and any necessary contingencies.
The Character Villain is someone who is diametrically opposed to the ideology and character of the heroes.
Now, I’ll go ahead and inform you that I’ve been reading Knightfall, which has recently been collected into new trade paperbacks. In the Animated Series, Bane was kind of a ‘meh’ villain, a roid-rage assassine in a luchador mask hired by the mob to kill batman. Yawn. But in the Chris Nolan movie, Bane is transformed into an idealogically driven villain who demagogues populist nonsense while actively destroying society (something which many people pointed out had great political relevance here in the US). It made me rethink Bane as a villain, but not to the extent that actually going back and reading the comics has.
The comic puts Bane out there as Batman’s greatest threat ever; the comic does not oversell this, because Bane manages to be a Combat Monster, a Mastermind and a Character Villain at the same time. If Bane had ONLY been one or two of these, he would not be convincing as a threat to the Batman. Batman already has villains who are Combat Monsters (Killer Crock), Masterminds (any of the mob bosses), and Character Villains (The Joker, Two-Face).
With Bane, we have a villain who is incredibly physical and unstoppable in hand-to-hand combat, complete with his crew of flunkies to wear down anyone who’d want to face him one on one. He’s also a mastermind: his two-fold goals, destroying Batman and making Gotham his, required great patience, resources and planning. While he could have taken his chances hand-to-hand with Batman from the get-go, unleashing all of the criminal element from Arkham to sap the resources of the police and the strength of Batman created a scenario where he could muscle in on organized crime by his ability to bring order to the chaos he created while he could count on the police and Batman to focus on the more random elements which would’ve been out of his control (such as Joker and Scarecrow). Lastly, Bane is set up to be Batman’s opposite, while still complimentary. They both use fear and strength to achieve their goals, however while Batman fights to create order from chaos, Bane unleashes chaos like a hurricane.
If I had weeks and weeks, I’d go through each of the points that Mike made in his three posts, cross referencing, etc. etc., but for now, I just encourage you to read his original posts yourself.