Batman: Nightwalker is kind of a misnomer, because Batman is not in this book, This is a Smallville version of Bruce Wayne before he was Batman when he turns 18. This left a pretty good opportunity for a great story, but it’s just okay. There’s was things that I liked a lot is this book, but I felt most of it was a missed opportunity to add the the Batman/Bruce Wayne mythos. The people that are relevant in the later years are few and far between, there’s of course Alfred, Lucious Fox, Harvey Dent, James Gordon, and vague hints at Killer Croc and Zsasz. The villains the Nightwalkers are new editions and one of the best parts of this novel.
The Plot: The Nightwalkers are terrorizing the rich elites of Gotham. Bruce Wayne has just turned 18 and inherited all of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s assets. Bruce throws a huge party for his 18th party, filled with a lot of people he doesn’t even know his only friend’s are Dianne, and Harvey Dent. He has a run in with a former friend the Mayor’s son, who only comes around when he seems to want something, and he wants Bruce to lie for him. Bruce refuses and just wants to leave. He ends up driving around in a supped up WayneTech Aston Marten car. He witnesses a police chase that the suspect is getting away, Bruce snaps and goes into action chasing the criminal down and crashes his car into his. Bruce then finds out the driver was one of the Nightwalkers. Bruce is not rewarded for his action but is give community service at Arkham Asylum for interfering with a police investigation. He has to sweep and mop the female wing and solitary confinement area, Bruce witnesses detective questioning one female prisoner that is a member of the Nightcrawlers, she stares off and doesn’t say anything to them. The next day when they are alone she talks to him, he soon learns he is the only person she’s talked to and she’s murdered three people. The police involve Bruce to try to get information while he’s talking to her a riot breaks out and he has to protect her. Bruce is starting to feel attached she gives him information on a weapons stash but doesn’t tell him about the next victim where the mayor is murdered. Bruce feels as he’s getting closer but his friends and Alfred are starting to worry. She reveals that he’s on the list of targets but is vague about details, notices a code in her words and actions, but will he figure it out in time? Is she a killer or a victim?
What I liked: The descriptions of Arkham Asylum are really detailed and you feel the dirt and grime of the place. I did like Bruce getting catcalled by the female inmates. The action is written really well, when it is there. I like the question it makes Bruce Wayne ask about what is justice? Madeline is a great femme fatale. The Nightwalkers are kind of throwaway bad guys, But Lu adds a lot to them and giving them reason. The little twist towards the end was well done. There are a lot of women in powerful roles and women henchwomen. something that Gotham is is not know for, so that was refreshing. Alfred called Bruce, his ward, was a great moment.
What I disliked: Bruce is moody but not really dark, his parents passed away only 5 years ago and he seems to well adjusted. The friendship with Harvey Dent was wasted, they did dig a little bit into Harvey’s abusive relationship with his dad, but there could’ve been a lot more, since he later turns into Two Face. There’s not a lot of action, when it is there it’s good but there’s only three scenes of action, I wanted the prison riot to last longer, and bigger stakes. The Mayor’s son story line falls flat, it could have been more interesting.
Recommendations: If your a casual Batman fan I would recommend skipping this, it doesn’t add anything to the mythos. I would recommend this for a good introduction to Batman, which seems to be the audience the book is aiming at. Warcross by Marie Lu has been a book that keeps getting recommended to me, reading this actually makes me want to read an original story, because when she creates something new it’s good like the bad guys, but where this book struggles is when she has to fit the story into the Batman legacy she doesn’t add much and you can feel the push back. For this book review I give it 2.5 out of 5.
There are currently 4 books in the young adult DC icons series, featuring Wonder Woman, Batman, Catwoman, and Superman I have heard that Wonder Woman: Warbreaker is great and I will like that one a bit more. The comic book nerd in me wants to eventually read them all.
Reviews By Ryan Hixson Readingwithmyeyes