Comics time: Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight


Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight

Ralph Cosentino, writer/artist

Viking, 2008

32 pages, hardcover


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I stumbled across this book purely by accident at my day job, and golly am I glad I did. A for-kids distillation of the sort of ur-Batman mythos–the basic origin, accoutrements, methods, villains and such that everyone recognizes–it boasts sumptuous art from Cosentino that comes off like a cross between the Bruce Timm animated look and high-end commercial illustration. I pretty much love his version of every character he draws–Thomas and Martha Wayne never looked like a better mommy and daddy, just for example, while Batman is square-jawed to the point of iconography rather than portraiture. It’s basically the most sophisticated art you’ll ever see in a potentially throwaway licensed book for ages eight and under. Like Tim Burton’s first Batman film or The Animated Series, the book’s a grab bag drawn from any and all of Batman’s appearances: ’40s-style crooks in fedoras, very very old-school-looking Joker and Catwoman, DeVito-inflected Penguin, non-1966-TV-series baddie Two-Face, a cameo from Killer Croc at his most reptilian, those preserved suits of armor from the Burton Batman‘s Wayne Manor–anything that works and creates a kid-friendly portrait of a guy who works really hard to stop crime by scaring and/or beating the stuffing out of bad guys. Its unusual and notable emphasis on young Bruce Wayne’s years of physical and mental study even impart a valuable lesson about hard work, not to mention not being afraid to pursue your really weird dreams. It’s great. I’m gonna give it to my nephew.

One Response to Comics time: Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight

  1. [...] Cosentino has done similar books on Superman, which I haven’t seen, and Batman, which is one of the best Batman anythings I’ve ever read. If he can distill WW’s milieu and appeal as beautifully as he did Batman’s, his book [...]