I must admit I have never read a Batman book before. Of course, I have read untold numbers of Batman comics and graphic novels. When added to the’ Batman’ TV shows, films and cartoons I have watched over the years, I think I can say that I know one or two things about our batty friend. It was with some anticipation that I approached this book: how would it compare to my recollection of the Batman?
Firstly, this is a very good action story with lots of death and mayhem that proceeds at quite a good pace, as does the body count. The actions of the villains start small but grow to huge undertakings threatening all the citizens of Gotham City. Led by Bane – a huge, powerful not to mention murderous, mercenary, the small army of devoted killers embark on a crusade against the city.
For those of you who have not seen the film you may be wondering where the Batman is. At the start of the book, he has retired and Bruce Wayne has become something of a recluse since the encounter with the Joker and Harvey Dent (Two-Face) eight years ago. It seems that encounter left Wayne with a damaged knee and a badly tarnished reputation having been officially blamed for the death of Dent. The Batman it seems is now a wanted felon which may account for why he does not appear until page 133.
In the opening section of the novel, we are re-acquainted with our old friends Police Commissionaire Jim Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth (the butler) and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). All that’s missing from this ensemble is Batman and it’s not until Bane’s atrocities reach Gotham is Wayne induced to don the cape and cowl once again. Having had an eight year lay-off, the caped crusader is not quite in top form and the comeback is rather short-lived. He then goes AWOL from the party until page 338 and remember, the novel is only 413 pages long.
As I said, this is a good action novel, but I’m not convinced it’s a good Batman novel. I always remember that Batman was known for his detective skills. He did after all feature in Detective Comics and even the TV series had him using his legendary detective skills to outwit that episodes villain. There is a hint of these skills in the opening sections but they seem to be forgotten for the rest of the novel in favor of Batman’s physical prowess. The story distils down to a physical contest between Bane and Batman with a couple of plot twists. With Batman at the peak of his mental capabilities, he would have seen one of the plot twists from a mile away.
After all the dust has settled and the bodies cleared away, we get to chapter forty-seven which is five pages of paragraphs wrapping up the stories of the main surviving characters with enough loose ends for another sequel. This might have worked in the film (which I have not seen) but I thought it was not really required for what is an enjoyable book. There is one sting in the tail though and it’s on the back cover. The book is priced at $7.99 and £7.99. Either the Americans are getting it cheap or the British are paying over the odds. You decide.
(pub: Titan Books. 413 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $ 7.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-781-16106-7)
check out website: www.titanbooks.com