The Batman Files
Andrews McMeel Publishing
308 Pages (Includes front and back matter)
Purchasing gifts always has an aura of mystery attached to it. In anticipation of my most recent anniversary, my wife and I visited our local mall. We toured a number of shops with the idea that I would get a new watch for my anniversary. Each store had an ample collection and I knew the decision was going to be tough. After departing the fourth such store, as we were walking by a tattoo parlor I quipped, “I know-how about I get a Batman tattoo for my anniversary?”
My wife’s shocking response was, “Go for it.” An hour later, I had the Bat symbol popularized in the movie Batman Begins emblazoned on my right shoulder.
Without apology, I admit that I am the consummate collector of Batman paraphernalia. Recently, the amazing work, The Batman Files, found its way into my life. Anyone who appreciates the mystique of The Dark Knight will love this book. And while I admit that readers often say of good books, “I could not put it down,” that was truly my experience. I poured over the design and relished the high quality illustrations for a few hours after opening it.
I enjoy the fact that Matthew Manning is not attempting a novel history of Bruce Wayne’s becoming Batman. Instead the author attempts to synthesize the volumes of what has been written about Batman into a plausible amalgamation. The result is a book that looks like the personal journal of Bruce Wayne which captures the development of the Batman. [The cover is amazing and gives the journal an almost secretive feel.] Its back story is believable, as well-one day, the author receives a package in plain brown wrapping. In it, he discovers this journal and understands its receipt implies that Bruce Wayne has died. Mr. Wayne wants to set the story straight about who Batman was, and more importantly, make a full disclosure of his life.
Serious Batman aficionados will appreciate the lengths to which the author goes. He includes personal photographs, hand-written entries from Bruce Wayne, and newspaper clippings heralding the exploits of Batman. Additionally, many of Batman’s villains are explored; schematics of Batman weaponry are included; and an interesting lifespan of Dick Grayson, the original Robin is provided. Bruce Wayne wants everyone to understand that Robin was no mere sidekick; he even donned the Bat suit when it was appropriate for him to do so.
Such an encyclopedic reference is not meant to be fully appreciated in one sitting. Its content will keep Batman collectors busy for quite a while.
This one is a must have for any Batman enthusiast.
Review by Steven King, MBA, MEd