Series: DC Icons #2
Published by Penguin Random House, Penguin Teen Australia on January 4, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure
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The highly anticipated coming-of-age story for the world's greatest super hero: BATMAN by the # 1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu.
Returning home from his lavish eighteenth birthday party, Bruce Wayne stops a criminal's getaway - disobeying the police and crashing his car during the chase.
Sentenced to community service in Gotham City's Arkham Asylum, he encounters some of the the city's most dangerous and mentally disturbed criminals. Among these, Bruce meets the intriguing Madeleine who has ties to the Nightwalker gang that is terrorizing Gotham City.
She's a mystery Bruce has to unravel but can he trust her? The Nightwalkers target the rich, and Bruce's name is next on their list.
We’re so used to seeing Batman as an adult, fighting crime from behind the shadows of Gotham City. That’s why I was so excited to read Batman: Nightwalker, that follows Bruce Wayne as an 18 year old teenager.
As this is an origin story, we don’t see the caped crusader at all in this book, or his Batcave, Batmobile or gadgets. Instead, it follows a teenage Bruce Wayne before he becomes Batman who gets caught up in the mysterious Nightwalkers, criminals who are murdering and stealing from philantropists. Their only lead is the teenager Madeleine, an incredibly perceptive criminal who is responsible for several brutal murders.
The book adds just enough to the character to bring something new to the table – seeing Bruce interact with his best friends Harvey and Dianne, his first involvement in working with the GCPD in solving a crime, and his first exposure to Arkham Asylum as a volunteer. I’ve never found Batman to be terribly relatable, but surprisingly, teenage Bruce’s voice manages to connect us to his character – all he wants to do is to protect what’s important to him and to prevent others from the pain and grief he’s experienced.
As a massive Batman fan, what struck me most about Batman: Nightwalker is how true to character it is. Bruce Wayne is a philantropist, a survivor, a hero, one who has overcome the greatest tragedy by losing both of his parents to crime. Being surrounded by people with questionable motives, both in his corporate and personal life, we see Bruce develop the skills to read people, to question their underlying motives. We see his interest in technology and gadgets, his reliance on Alfred, his reckless sense of justice. And funnily enough, we also see his irresistable urge to save dangerous females – classic Batman.
The villain Madeleine was a mysterious and intriguing character whom I wanted to know more about. Bruce is instantly drawn to her, as someone who is young, beautiful, cunning but also appropriately vulnerable. As Bruce interacts with her more and more, our perceptions of her slowly change – from a dangerous criminal, to someone helping Bruce solve crimes, and finally, a morally grey character. I also loved how she’s an Asian character as well, who makes a brief mention towards unequal opportunities. Definitely a suitable villain for the Batman universe, and one that kicks off Bruce’s penchant for fighting crime.
The world would always have the liars and traitors and thieves, but there were still those who were good at heart.
While Batman: Nightwalker adds enough to the character to be interesting, the book is quite predictable as we know what’s going to happen to Bruce and his attraction to Madeleine. Watching him continually go back to her even though she’s bad news was like a storm waiting to happen.
Batman: Nightwalker adds enough to the character of Batman to make it new, while staying true to what we know about the character. With its morally grey characters with hidden motives, to Bruce’s reliance on technology and drive for justice, this is definitely a Batman story that’s worth reading.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thanks to Penguin Random House for the review copy!
Batman Nightwalker is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$18.99.
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