I’ve always viewed Young Adult (YA) novels and graphic novels skeptically. They often are preachy, with not much substance to them.
Then DC started up their DC Ink group. I delved into several of them, including Mera and Super Sons, and I enjoyed them.
I saw that one of them was going to focus on Batman, my favorite character, so I was all in. And it was the best of the bunch, in my opinion!
Writer: Marie Lui, adapted by Stuart Moore
Artist: Chris Wildgoose
Colorist: Laura Trinder
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: DC INK
Cover Price: $16.99
Release Date: September 25, 2019
SOLICITATION: This action-packed graphic novel based on the New York Times bestselling novel by Marie Lu transports readers to the shadowy gates of Arkham Asylum, where Gotham City’s darkest mysteries reside…and which now threatens to imprison young Bruce Wayne. A ruthless new gang of criminals known only as Nightwalkers is terrorizing Gotham, and the city’s elite are being taken out one by one. On the way home from his 18th birthday party, newly minted billionaire Bruce Wayne makes an impulsive choice that puts him in their crosshairs and lands him in Arkham Asylum, the once-infamous mental hospital. There, he meets Madeleine Wallace, a brilliant killer…and Bruce’s only hope. Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel, but is he convincing her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Adapted by Stuart Moore and illustrated by Chris Wildgoose, this graphic novel presents a thrilling new take on Batman before he donned the cape and cowl.
A VERY DIFFERENT TAKE ON NIGHTWALKERS
I’ve always considered Nightwalkers to be vampires, but this graphic novel takes a different approach, probably more in tune with today’s sensibilities. The Nightwalkers are a gang intent on taking the riches from the wealthy and using it for their purposes, which they consider to be helping the poor and downtrodden. The rich are the “one percenters,” as they have been called by some groups in real life.
Like the best YA stories I’ve read, this one focuses in one a specific chunk of time in Bruce Wayne’s life. He’s just turned 18, and he’s begun to see the people around him in a different light. One friend approaches him and asks him to fake an internship for his father’s benefit, for instance. Bruce doesn’t like that now even though he’s let Richard copy his homework in the past.
Bruce is the owner of a new techno-car, and when a Nightwalker tries to escape in Gotham’s streets, he takes off after their vehicle when he realizes the police will never catch that person. He does bring that person to justice, but he’s surprised when it turns out to be a young girl named Madeline. He also has to pay for his efforts since he seems to have taken the law into his own hands. That puts him doing community service in, of all places, Arkham Asylum. Once there, he finds Madeline again and, since he’s the only one she’ll talk to, he strikes up something of a relationship with her.
She’s not what he expects, though, and it leads Bruce’s family, business, and friends into danger.
There’s lots of action and drama in this tale, with many several now-familiar figures entering Bruce’s life. It’s very much of a “how did things get the way they are?” kind of story, filling in some of the gaps in Bruce’s life from our perspective.
The dialogue is intense much of the time, and you could cut the tension between Bruce and Madeline much of the time. When things go south, well, you see the beginnings of Batman in Bruce’s expressions and actions.
STRONG, VIBRANT ART
The DC Ink line can often be picked out because they have a very unique color style in them, something very much like what those in the publication industry call duotone. It’s black-and-white art with some accents in another color. In this volume, it’s a darker blue. That doesn’t stop them from using the occasional yellow or other colors to accent what’s going on, though. It does give us the feeling of a very different universe from the very colorful comics we’re so used to.
As always, I look at two main components in artwork for a comic: 1. Action sequences, and 2. Facial expressions. The action sequences are very dynamic. For instance, I started to hurt when Bruce’s car ends up pretty much totaled by his encounter with the Nightwalkers. Then, too, Wildgoose’s use of expression really shines, particularly in Madeline’s face, which is often stoic so her emotions are usually hidden under layers of denial or deception.
BOTTOM LINE: More Batman in DC Ink, Please!
This DC Ink book includes a previews of the upcoming Wonder Woman graphic novel. It’s very engaging, so I’ll likely be after that as well.
If you haven’t given these books a try, I’d recommend you do that. In fact, Batman: Nightwalker might be the best entry point for new readers of this imprint. There is very powerful action that tells us a little more of Bruce’s past, something I’m always interested in! Highly recommended!
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Batman: Nightwalker GN
Madeline is not what he expects, though, and it leads Bruce’s family, business, and friends into danger.