Hello and welcome to the World of Bats, the Batman Book Club!
First off, Happy Free Comic Book Day to anyone who was able to celebrate! Second, and most importantly, tomorrow is Mother’s Day, so I thought this would be a good week to showcase two of the mother figures in our Caped Crusader’s life.
First, we’ll be looking at Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight issues #21-23, written by Mike W Barr and drawn by Bart Sears, which features the Post-Crisis origins for his substitute mother figure Leslie Thompkins:
Batman saves the life of John Ackers, who in turn forms a squad of youths into a righteous vigilante gang to help clean up Gotham City. Batman condones their actions, but Leslie Thompkins, a friend of Bruce Wayne’s father, condemns not only them—but Batman, too!
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #21
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #22
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #23
Next, we’ll be looking at the classic story, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Adam Kubert, which also features Martha Wayne in a way I will try not to spoil.
In the wake of Batman’s death, Neil Gaiman delivers a captivating and mysterious tale that delves into the realms of life, death and the afterlife and explores every facet and era of Bruce Wayne’s life.
Detective Comics #853
Yes yes yes! I’ve been wanting to see “Faith” covered ever since the early days of WoB! It’s the final part of the string of LOTDK issues that I think people should read as a transition between “Year One” and “Year Two.” (The mad tonal leap between those two post-Crisis origin stories is effectively bridged by "Shaman, “Gothic,” “Prey,” “Venom,” and “Faith.”)
The art by Bart Sears is an acquired taste, to be sure, but I think it works for the story. And, much like The Dark Knight Returns, it explores the idea that Batman may accidentally inspire people to “wear hockey pads” and go on their own little vigilante ventures without the same training or self-discipline that keeps Bruce in line.
(Also, am I the only person who got giddy when Batman referenced Harvey Harris, the police detective who trained him? See Batman #213 for the pre-Crisis version of Harris and Detective Comics Annual #2 for the post-Crisis version!)
I really enjoyed Faith. It touches on some deeper questions about whether Batman is actually making Gotham better and the type of people that Batman inspires (sort of similar to Riddler in The Batman). The relationship between Leslie and Bruce shown here is beautifully written, too. The moment where Alfred and Leslie were talking on the phone worked really well.
Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader was different. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t what we got. It was great, but I’m not sure if I got Gaiman’s point with the rebirth at the end. All the different takes on Batman in one story was a lot of fun, though. I think I liked Alfred’s story the best
I agree that the art fits the story, especially the dream sequences. Maybe it’s just me, but at times the art style felt like a Vertigo comic rather than one under the main DC banner