about_faces (about_faces) wrote,

An intriguing trifecta of new Bat-related non-comic-book books!

Every so often, I like to check out Amazon.com to see if there are any Batman books which have slipped through the cracks, stuff which doesn't get mentioned on the usual geek sites anywhere. Usually, I don't find anything new, but on my most recent search while I was procrastinating to distract myself from doing actual writing of any importance, I discovered three newish books of interest. I haven't been able to find much information at all about these books, but they're right up my Crime Alley, and I imagine, up yours as well.

Batman: The World of the Dark Knight

Cover art by Jim Lee!

Who hides in the shadows, an often constant but unseen presence? Who strives to rid the city of the evil that lurks through the streets? Who is he? BATMAN.

First appearing in the pages of Detective Comics in 1939, Bruce Wayne vowed to avenge his parents' murder and rid the world of evil by becoming the fearless caped crusader known as Batman.

Follow every punch, kick, twist, and turn of the Dark Knight's story in Batman: The World of the Dark Knight. Tracing Batman's entire career, with full detail of his significant adventures, battles, loves, allies, and enemies, this ultimate guide will leave nothing unexplored. DK's Batman: The World of the Dark Knight includes everything from how Batman came to be created and how the character was developed through the decades to key events in Batman's life that have continued to develop his story over the years. With a new, fresh look featuring intricate full-color comic book art, Batman: The World of the Dark Knight is a comic enthusiast's dream come true!

Of the three, this is the one that interests me the least, mainly because chances are very good that it'll have nothing new to offer a fan like me, but I'm still interested to check it out. I grew up reading books like this such as the late Les Daniels' DC Comics : Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes and Jules Feiffer's The Great Comic Book Heroes (the original version that was filled with old comic reprints), and they were instrumental to my superhero comics education. Maybe this book will be the same for some other young reader who's only casually versed in Bat-history, so I'd be interested to know what's included, as well as what's left out.

Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight

Does the Dark Knight have bats in his belfry?

Why does Batman really wear a costume to fight crime?

Why are his most intimate relationships with "bad girls" he ought to lock up?

And why won't he kill that homicidal clown?

Batman is one of the most compelling and enduring characters to come from the Golden Age of Comics, and interest in his story has only increased through countless incarnations since his first appearance in 1939's Detective Comics #27. Why does this superhero without superpowers fascinate us so much? Batman and Psychology examines the complex inner world of Batman and Bruce Wayne and the life and characters of Gotham City. What would Freud, Jung, and other professionals say about how childhood trauma spawned his life's mission? Is Batman neurotic? Psychotic? Does he have PTSD, OCD, or any other mental illness? Why the mask, the bat, and the underage partner, Robin? What psychopathologies lurk in the minds of supervillains like the Joker, the Riddler, Two-Face, and Catwoman? Are they really rogues and villains, or simply misunderstood victims of a heartless society? Do Batman and his foes depend on each other?

Combining psychological theory with the latest in psychological research, Batman and Psychology takes you on an unprecedented journey behind the mask and into the dark mind of your favorite Caped Crusader and his never-ending war on crime.

Hoo boy. From what I've seen, these kinds of "pop culture meets religion/philosophy/cooking/taxidermy/etc" rarely turn out to be great, and on the very few occasions that someone tries to examine Harvey, the result tends to look like this. Bad Denny O'Neil, bad! That said, an actual look at the psychology of the characters (with an emphasis on the villains!) is damn interesting to me, even though those could go wrong so, so many ways. Like, which version of Harvey will the author be analyzing? If they cannot resist the lure of picking apart the psychobabble fail of Batman: Jekyll & Hyde, it's gonna be Murray all up in this shit again. Really, at this point, I pretty much don't expect ANYONE to remember to remember Eye of the Beholder and the Christopher Dent "game" origin, even though a whole essay could be written to analyze the psychology of that Harvey. So I'm very intrigued to check out Batman and Psychology, but when I do, I'll have to be prepared for the worst.

Wayne of Gotham: A Novel

Two men separated by murder: Thomas, the rebellious doctor and heir to the vast Wayne empire, and Bruce, his son, whose life is forever altered by witnessing his parents' murder. The slaying of Thomas and Martha Wayne is the torturous point on which Bruce turns to become Batman.

The Dark Knight's file on the case has long been closed, the foundations of Bruce Wayne's secret life secure in the simple genesis of a mugging gone horribly wrong. These foundations are shaken, however, when an unexpected guest invades the grounds of Wayne Manor, raising questions about the event that ended the lives of the mother he loved and the father he worshipped, and sparked his unquenchable drive to protect and avenge.

To discover his real family history, Batman must face down old foes, his only confidant, and the evil heart of Arkham Asylum, and shoulder the new burden of a dark legacy.

“Much closer to the Burton/Nolan Batman films and the Frank Miller graphic novels than to the campy 1960s TV and comicbook incarnations of the character. An imaginative look at the human side of an iconic superhero.” (Booklist )

I have to side-eye that Booklist quote which seems to equate all "comicbooks" with the 60's show, but still, I'm really interested. I mean, holy heck, an original Batman prose novel? Awesome! Why has nobody talked about this anywhere? I wish more people cared about reading DC superheroes in prose, especially considering the cult popularity of Tom DeHaven's novel It's Superman!. Has anyone else read that? I thought it was an absolutely fantastic reimagining of Clark, Lex, and Lois for the most part until they were swallowed up by the dozen or so original characters who showed up out of nowhere. I'm really curious to see how much of Wayne of Gotham will be canon (Comics? TAS? Movies?) versus original content. Between this and Batman: Earth One, we'll now have two new takes on Bruce investigating the murders of his parents, and while it's not exactly the freshest or most original plot, I'm want to see how these stories unfold in the freedom of their own standalone continuity.

Thankfully, unlike the other two books, this one actually IS available at my library, so I'll be checking it out for myself soon! If anyone has read or is planning to read any of these three, let me know what you think!
Tags: denny o'neil, jim lee, nonfiction and essay publications, novel(ization)s, philosophy
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