This collection of Batman tales focuses on Batman earlier years of crime-fighting. Each story is a separate story portraying Batman’s first run-ins with popular villains from his rogue’s gallery.
In the first tale, we see that Batman is still building his arsenal and has his first encounter with Poison Ivy. As is often the case with Poison Ivy storylines, Batman falls victim to her toxins and needs to find the cure. There isn’t a lot to this storyline and the plot is a little thin, however, we do get to see a younger, naive Ivy which is great for Poison Ivy fans as it indicates that the beautiful seductress we all know and love was at one point a little green.
The second story gives insight into Edward Nigma’s loneliness as a child which led him developing his know it all persona. This need to be recognized and praised instead of being a laughing stock allows us to see a side of the Riddler we aren’t used to. What this story illustrates brilliantly is that the Riddler can be a successful criminal and at times can outsmart Batman. However, it’s his arrogance that often leads to his downfall.
The third story takes Batman’s main weapon of fear and turns it against him. Drawing Parallels to the Wizard of Oz and Sleepy Hollow, the Scarecrow’s origin is fleshed out. We get to see why he is obsessed with fear and what led to his creation of the Scarecrow. We even see how he managed to use his skeletal frame to his advantage. Similar to the Riddlers origin, this story shows how the bullied becomes the bully.
The fourth story is, in my opinion, the weakest story of the bunch. This is the origin story of the Manbat. Professor Langstrom attempts to cure his deafness by taking a serum that he has developed. At first, the results are as expected but then things go horribly wrong. This is your stereotypical mad scientist turns himself into a monster story that has been seen over and over. It’s not a bad story but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
Overall this is an enjoyable collection of stories, each story is different and each one adds to Batman’s earlier years as the Dark Knight. It is certainly worth a read if you are a new reader and wish to understand some of Batman’s more popular villains.
Purchase Batman: Four Of A Kind