With all the talk circulating around Doctor Hugo Strange as the big bad in the third Christopher Nolan Batman film, and the recent reveal that Dr. Strange is the heavy in the Batman: Arkham City trailer, it seems pretty clear that the psychologist is going to get a fair amount of attention in the coming years. The rumor has Nolan basing his Dark Knight Rises on the 1990 Prey storyline from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, so what better time to examine the arc than now? And what better way to check the availability of the series than by diving in back issue bin at my local Hastings.
Though I read the Prey storyline when it was originally published (yes, I am stealing one of Matthew’s many catch-phrases), I wanted to do a little experiment to see how readily available this arc was to the average fan who might want to dive into the book to check out all the hubbub for themselves. I did a quick check on Amazon to see if there was a collected trade available, and there was one – selling for close to $500. YIKES! Better to head to the back issue bins…
The closest, and only comic book shop in my little hamlet of 20,000 is Hastings – a regional book/music/video chain that recently made a dramatic change in the way it deals with comics. Not too long ago, our Hastings went along with the rest of the chain and revamped the layout of the store to better accommodate and focus on comics. This required a new double-sided display featuring all the new comics out that week, though I have found our store tends to put the new comics on the shelf whenever they feel like it, but certainly not on Wednesday, and quite often not on Thursday either.
But for this experiment, I’m not focusing on the new stuff, but rather the back issue bins. I love this particular store’s method for storing and accessing bins; sliding drawers with comics at the finger tips is something I definitely want to explore for the Major Spoilers collection of 15,000 plus comics. Unfortunately, the store doesn’t have EVERYTHING and the things they do have are organized in such a haphazard way, it is a wonder that the store will ever sell a complete arc of any series to a casual comic book reader. Case in point – Batman. The Batman section takes up three or four of the drawers, but instead of Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, and Batman: Secret Origins (and any and every other Batman related book) neatly separated and numbered, all the back issues are simply dumped helter-skelter into a general Batman category. Sure you might find that issue of All-Star Batman and Robin #9 that you’ve been searching for, but it is going to be wedged between Batman: The Brave and the Bold #5 (2009), and Batman and the Outsiders #32 (1985). And if you think I’m exaggerating, that’s exactly how I found them. Fortunately, my three year old was patient enough so I could sift through the back issue bins looking for Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #11 – #15 because ultimately, he was able to score three issues of Batman: The Brave and the Bold that he hadn’t yet read.
By the end of my 10 minutes of digging, I was only able to find three issues in the arc – installments one, three, and five, but this adventure does give me hope that those of you who are interested will be able to find the complete run at better, well stocked specialized stores. And considering the prices are relatively low, and if the Nolan/Prey rumor is correct, now might be the time to snatch up as many issue of the complete arc as possible, as you can hike the price up on those online auction sites in six months when the frenzy over this storyline reaches its climax.
Overall, I was a both disappointed that I couldn’t find the entire series, but also surprised that this small store had any comics from the Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight series. Because of the size of our town, and the general lack of hard core comic book readers in the area, I can understand why the comic going experience at this store isn’t as finely tuned as one might expect. It should also be noted that my Hastings experience is probably not the same one others will have when visiting their local chain store. And it still looks like Legends of the Dark Knight: Prey #1 – 5 can be found, if you’re willing to spend some time digging through the bins.