Category Archives: Trade Paperback Review

Batman and the Mad Monk

9781845764951-ukIts recommended that you read Batman and the Monster Men before reading this story as it continues on directly from that story.  After the events of the previous story, Hugo Strange is still running free and Sal Maroni is trying to forget the events that transpired.  Young women that have been completely drained of their blood are found dead on the streets of Gotham.  At first glance, it appears to be ritualistic and both Batman and Jim Gordon have to work together to find the killer.

One of the subplots of this story involves Bruce Wayne’s love interest Julie Madson and her father.  First of all, due to Bruce’s cancellations, poor punctuality and lame excuses for regular cuts and bruises, Julie lets paranoia get the best of her as she starts to spy on Bruce in attempt to catch him out as she believes he may be cheating.  At the same time, due to the events that transpired in the finale of Batman and the Monster Men her father is also suffering from paranoia.  He is constantly in fear of the Batman getting him.  This illustrates that although the image of the Bat is used to scare criminals, it also has the same effect on civilians.  This is reiterated at one point Jim Gordon thinks that despite Batman being an ally, he still scares him from time to time.

Another plot point that this story explores is Gotham City Police Departments corruption.  The new commissioner has officers that will do his dirty work which is apparent when they attack Jim Gordon on the GCPD rooftop.  Despite this happening later on in the story, a different officer advises Jim Gordon that he and some other officers are happy that Batman helps out.

At heart, this story is about Batman taking on what he believes to be partly supernatural.  We get to see that Batman tries to come to Rational conclusions but isn’t afraid to consider the unknown.  In this case, he has to deal with vampirism.  This is illustrated when Batman melts down all the solid silver he can find around Wayne Manor to make solid silver batarangs.  This allows us to see that Batman plans for every possible outcome and ensures that he has all of the necessary tools needed to come out on top.

Overall this is am enjoyable Batman story that has everything you expect from a Batman story.  The detective work, death traps and an air of mystery are all here.  If you want a story that shows how the good of Batman outweighs the bad then this is worth a read.

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Batman: The Man Who Laughs

Batman: Terror

Batman and the Monster Men

downloadThis story is another story taking place in the early years of Batman’s career and depicts Batman’s first encounter with Hugo Strange.  While investigating a string of violent murders Batman crosses paths with Hugo Strange and the outcome of his human experimentation.

One of the unique subplots of this story involves Bruce Wayne’s love interest, Julie.  Theres nothing overly different about their relationship, as is often the case with Batman stories, she falls in love, finds Bruce Wayne mysterious and attempts to break through and find out about the real Bruce Wayne.  This is something Batman fans are used to seeing.  However, the character of Julie was one of Bruce Wayne’s love interests from the golden age of Batman comics and hadn’t been seen since 1941 in comics.  Her addition and re-imagining add a nice little touch for long-term fans.

The Dilemma that unfolds involving her father getting in deep with a loan shark adds a realism to this story as the father turns to alcohol and Julie dances on the edge of hysteria, we get to see very human emotions in play which adds a realistic element to the story.

Sal Maroni is also a key character in this story indicating that the events of the story take place prior to The Long Halloween‘s final issues.  He is shown as a loan shark who loans money to Hugo Strange to continue his sick and twisted research.  His appearance in this story adds more depth to his character.  He is an incredibly unlikeable character who you want to come to a horrible end.

Hugo Strange is handled brilliantly here, despite his apparent shortcomings he is a very strong, intelligent and dangerous man.  He is portrayed as very unforgiving and willing to ignore ethics to reach his goal through experimentation.  It is through this experimentation and creation of his monster men that leads to a very bloody finale.

Overall this is a great Batman story, its great for newcomers and long-term fans.  There are a lot of believable characters, a great villain and a gory showdown.  This one is worth your time.

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Batman & The Mad Monk

Batman: Prey

Batman: The Long Halloween


51f81ETUlvL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_First of all, just to be clear, this story has it all.  Taking place early on in his career and following on from Batman: Year One we see Batman attempt to solve a case over the span of a year.

The story begins with Batman, Harvey Dent, and Jim Gordon working together to take down Carmine ‘The Roman’ Falcone, one of Gotham City’s biggest crime bosses.  What ensues is a new killer named Holiday committing murders during national holidays.  In the pursuit of this mysterious killer, Batman runs into many villains in his rogues’ gallery such as Catwoman, Solomon Grundy, and the Joker.

In true detective form, this story continually has you guessing who Holiday is.  One of the lead suspects is Harvey Dent who at the beginning of this story has not yet become Two-Face.  What this story portrays brilliantly is that Harvey Dent didn’t become Two-Face because of half of his face being horribly scarred but because of several factors and events that chipped away at his soul.  Seeing Harvey fall from grace and become a monster makes for an interesting read and one of the key plot threads in this story.

Another key character in this story is Selina Kyle and her romance with both Bruce Wayne as herself and Batman as Catwoman.  Her duality of being both friend and foe are depicted well here.  In most cases, she gets in Batman’s way but in others, such as Batman’s run-in with Poison Ivy, she pretty much saves the day and deals with situations that Batman cannot handle.

As this story is set over the span of a little more than a year we get to see how busy Batman’s life is.  While juggling between taking down the Roman and finding Holiday we get to see how other crimes that are unrelated are dealt with swiftly so that Batman can get back to solving the big cases.  The best example of this is when the Joker makes an appearance and causes all of his usual brand of trouble.

This story is perfect for both new readers and long-term fans of Batman.  It has a steady paced plot that keeps you guessing and a selection of characters from Batman’s Rogues’ gallery.  This story is a must read for any fan.

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Batman & The Monster Men

Batman: Dark Victory

Batman: Haunted Knight

220px-Batman_Haunted_Knight_coverIn this collection of Stories, we see Batman early in his career butting heads with several enemies from his rogues’ gallery.

In the first tale, Batman must confront the scarecrow again as he has begun to experiment on animals with his fear toxin.  The plot is similar to most scarecrow stories, using his fear toxin, he terrorizes the city on Halloween night.  What makes this story a little different is Bruce Wayne’s romance with a mysterious lady named Jillian.  One of the highlights of this story is Batman’s weakness as Bruce Wayne.  As a man, in reality, he misses things that he would otherwise notice as Batman but that is where Alfred shows his true worth as he does a little detective work of his own.  Its this action by Alfred that illustrates that sometimes even Batman may overlook something and may at times, require the help of others.

In the second tale, we witness Barbara Gordon in her teenage years (before taking up the mantle of Batgirl or Oracle) fall victim to a kidnapping committed by the Mad Hatter.  In his insane attempts at recreating wonderland, he dresses Barbara Gordon up as Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) and insists she attend his tea party.  This story brilliantly shows us how manic and disillusioned the Mad Hatter really is.  One of the stories sub-plots also connects the story of Alice in Wonderland to the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents indicating that whenever he fights the Mad Hatter he is reminded of that night and consistently puts the blame on himself for their death.

In the third story, Batman has to deal with his very own Scrooge moment.  Just as it happened in Charles Dickens ‘A Christman Carol,’ Batman is visited by three ghosts of the past, present, and future.  These ghosts show Batman how his obsession with taking up the mantle of Batman affects Bruce Wayne.  We see aspects of Batman’s personality and fears that are very rarely shown.  The tale is very simple but also very enjoyable.

This whole book connects and references famous works, stories and children’s rhymes while maintaining the theme of Halloween throughout the whole book.  All three tales are enjoyable to read and give greater depth to the character of Batman.

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Batman: The Long Halloween

Superman and Batman

Batman: Four Of A Kind

Batman Four of a kindThis 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.

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Batman: The Long Halloween

Batman: The Man Who Laughs

Batman: Hush

Batman: Venom

Batman VenomThis is a very unique tale of Batman, with this story we get to creatively see what would happen to Batman if he was addicted to drugs.  Despite the title of the story being called venom, the drugs in development are not named throughout the story.  However as the drugs alter the user’s strength, are developed into a liquid form and the finale of the story takes place in Santa Prisca, it is safe to assume that this story illustrates the origin of the venom formula that grants Bane his superhuman strength.  It also indicates that Batman contributed towards the creation of Bane in a small way.

Due to Batman’s lack of strength, he is unable to save a young girl named sissy.  Annoyed by this event as well as it happening early in his career when he struggled to accept failure, he is manipulated into taking the drug to enhance his strength and prevent him from ever being too weak again.  At first, the drug helps but he soon becomes more aggressive and has trouble using his mind to focus on detective work.  It’s not long before Batman realizes that he has become dependant on the drugs and is asked to kill for his next fix.

One of the greatest aspects of this story is Batman’s character.  His self-critique of failure and personally taking the blame for the child’s death illustrates how determined he is to save everybody in Gotham.  It’s also an unreasonable goal and shows how dedicated Batman is to the cause.  This is a man who genuinely doesn’t want any casualties on his watch.  Later in the story, we witness his inner strength towards detoxing.  This gives the reader insight into the strength and discipline of Batman.  He is willing to do what is necessary for the greater good.

Some people dislike this story as it shows Batman in a more vulnerable state as well being an addict which is unlikely of Batman who has always been an incredibly disciplined character.  However, Batman does make mistakes especially in the earlier years of his career but it all contributes towards him becoming a force to be reckoned with.  This is a very daring story but some people who don’t want to see a weaker and vulnerable Batman may wish to skip this one.

Batman: Gothic

Batman GothicThis is another tale that takes place in Batman’s first few years of his crime-fighting career.  In this instance, the Batman must go up against a child killer named Mr. Whisper who appears to have returned from the dead.  Batman has to deal with the paranormal in this story, which is a little different to his usual rogue’s gallery or detective work.  As the story progresses the story becomes more and more creepy.

What this story does look into are nightmares that Bruce has involving his father and the guidance that he takes from these coupled with the self-blame that he suffers from there death.  This story allows us to peek into Bruce’s childhood and witness the abuse that he suffered at the hands of the stories villain Mr. Whisper.  If not speaking to his father, Bruce as a child may have fell victim to Mr. Whisper which means that by the end of the story Mr. Whisper actually set up his own demise completely by accident.

The story is a good story that moves along at a steady pace.  There is not a lot of depth to it but if you want to see Batman go up against the weird and macabre then this is a story for you.  If you give it a miss you won’t be missing out on any crucial information about Batman.

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Batman: Four of a Kind

Batman: Venom

Batman: Haunted Knight