Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu, adapted by Stuart Moore, Illustrated by Chris Wildgoose
DC Ink, pb, £9.35
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Wanting to prove himself more than just the wealthiest elitist teenager in the world, Bruce Wayne makes an impulsive choice that brings him into conflict with the Nightwalkers, a new gang of ruthless criminals. Worse, as punishment for getting into a reckless car chase, Bruce is sent to Arkham Asylum for community service where he finds Madeleine, a member of the Nightwalkers. Despite warnings of Madeleine’s manipulative nature, Bruce can’t leave Madeleine alone, fascinated with someone his own age being in the asylum. But is he convincing her to give up her secrets, her gang, or is he giving her the information her gang needs to accomplish its true goals?
There are many original stories at the moment, most of them aimed at a younger audience, and this is one of those. I’m refraining from saying “another one of those” for many different reasons. All the signs of the Dark Knight are already there. Bruce is a loner, with few friends whom he values greatly. His standards mean he won’t fake an internship for his friend. His character means he can’t stand by while criminals hurt people. He can’t stand a mystery. He’s attracted to the wrong type of women. Batman: Nightwalker is consistent with the man Bruce Wayne will become and as a huge fan of Batman, I like that.
DC are using a similar art style for each of their origin stories. This Batman one is similar to Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass and Black Canary: Ignite. It’s clean, cartoony style, which is very different to the grittier, realistic art of Batman: Damned which is aimed at adults. This links the different stories together in the same universe.
The colour scheme is appropriate, black and white with shades of grey, which is appropriate. Based mostly in Arkham or set at night, this is not a bright, happy story. Yellow is used to highlight certain elements of the story, but only in panels to do with the Nightwalker such as the signs they leave at their mark’s houses and the origami animals Madeleine makes.
For me, this is one of the best graphic novels I’ve read this year, so much so that I’ve got a copy of the book it was based on by Marie Lu. To new readers, Batman: Nightwalkers is a great introduction, not just to Bruce Wayne but also of other characters that form part of this universe, such as Harvey Dent. To established fans, this is an enjoyable story, consistent with the person Bruce will become.