By Matt Wagner (DC Comics)
The concluding volume of Matt Wagner’s reinterpretation of two of Batman’s earliest and most iconic triumphs features a classic duel with the Dark Knight’s most obvious antithesis – a vampire. A flamboyant, magical bat monster to combat the grim, steely rationalism of this hero was an obvious conceit when Gardner Fox wrote it in 1939 (Detective Comics #31 and #32 – most recently reprinted in Batman Chronicles Volume 1 ISBN 1-84576-036-0) and Wagner proves that it still has merit.
Following on from Batman and the Monster Men with the sub-plot of Bruce Wayne’s first girlfriend Julie Madison and her tragically flawed father, this subtle blending of high gothic fantasy and modern Goth sensibility sees a mysterious cult leader moving into the upper and lower echelons of Gotham society, recruiting thugs , seducing the glitterati and killing at a whim.
Still in his first year of his mission, the inexperienced Batman must reassess his role and his beliefs before his city can be saved.
This is great story-telling, beautifully illustrated, paying proper respect to the triumphs of the past whilst reverently refreshing them for the modern reader. This is a classic Batman that everybody can enjoy – and should.
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