Another graphic novel from the excellent DC Ink line today: it’s Batman: Nightwalker!
Book: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu, adapted by Stuart Moore, with art by Chris Wildgoose
Read before: No
Ownership: Review copy provided free of charge by Penguin Random House. All opinions my own.
I should preface this review by saying that I haven’t read Marie Lu’s original Batman: Nightwalker novel, so I came to the story side of things fresh. And I loved it! This is, as with the Harley Quinn graphic novel I reviewed last week, an alternate YA backstory featuring Bruce Wayne as a teenager. It’s pacey and fun, with some enjoyable cameos from beloved Batman characters, and I thought it was a fab way to make a hero who is quite adult (and fairly hard to connect with emotionally) more relatable to teens.
This is definitely a YA version of Batman! After being arrested for reckless driving (while trying to aid police), Bruce is sentenced to do community service… at Arkham Asylum. While mopping floors and doing other menial work, he strikes up a connection with Madeline, a member of a gang that’s been terrorising Gotham. I thought that Bruce was really well-written, as he treads the line between likeable teen with a need to do good, and privileged rich boy who doesn’t understand the depths to which some people can sink. Batman’s privilege is an issue I’ve not seen addressed much outside of the fan community, so I liked that it was touched on here, though I think it could have been explored even more. There’s a good mix of action and quieter, more thoughtful scenes, which is what I like – as fun as a fight scene is, it’s not very interesting to me if there’s no explanation, and that’s well-balanced here.
As with Harley’s book, this graphic novel does brilliant things with colour and art. It’s got a much cleaner style than Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, with straighter, more definite lines and more defined, flat colouring, which suits the more restrained, almost uptight feel of Bruce Wayne’s personality just as well as the punchy, sketchy art of HQ:BG suited Harley’s loose-cannon nature. The book is almost entirely black and white, as before, with yellow used as the sole highlight, but again, this is more controlled than in HQ:BG, and kept mostly to colouring individual objects of importance, rather than in huge emotional washes. I thought this really suited the tone of the story, and highlights Bruce Wayne’s ability to keep the sections of his life neatly defined – he’s the complete antithesis of Harley Quinn’s wild character.
Batman: Nightwalker is really good fun, and would make a nice introduction to Batman for a teen, or an interesting read for someone who’s been reading him for a while. A very enjoyable book with awesome art! It gets four out of five cats from me!