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Batman: Shadow of the Bat – The Last Arkham (Review)

23rd July is Batman Day, celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. To celebrate, this July we’re taking a look at some new and classic Batman (and Batman related) stories. Check back daily for the latest review.

In 1992, DC comics launched Shadow of the Bat. It ran for eight years and ninety-two issues. Alan Grant wrote most of those issues, before his creative relationship with the publisher eventually broke down. (Grant is still upset about the manner of his dismissal.) As the driving force behind the book, Grant was able to give Shadow of the Bat its own unique flavour, focusing on the madness of Gotham, and the strangeness of its inhabitants.

The opening four-part story, The Last Arkham, remains perhaps the most definitive of Grant’s contributions to the Batman mythos, teaming up with artist Norm Breyfogle to offer a rather creepy and unnerving exploration of the city’s ever-slipping sanity.

Me thinks the Batman doth protest too much...

Me thinks the Batman doth protest too much…

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Batman: The Animated Series – Read My Lips (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

It’s really remarkable the kind of stories you can tell with Batman. The character has a remarkable and innate flexibility, lending him to a diverse bunch of genres. He can do mystery, suspense, adventure, horror, drama, action, crime and many more besides. Joe Lansdale’s script for Read My Lips does an excellent job demonstrating the wonderful flexibility of Batman as a character, telling a witty, off-beat noir story… with a dummy as the villain.

He ain’t no dummy…

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Batman: The Animated Series – Dreams in Darkness (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

One of the fascinating things about Batman: The Animated Series, apart from the shrewd writing, the careful character development and the skilled animation, was just how well it worked within the grand tapestry of the Batman mythos. The writers would frequently take ideas and concepts scattered across the breadth of the character’s rich publication history, tweak and update them for the small screen, and then go on to rework the concepts for the next generation of writers and creators working on the character.

Dreams in Darkness feels like the perfect example of this chain approach to reworking concepts and characters. It’s very clearly inspired by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle’s Shadow of the Bat story The Last Arkham, but it went on to be a major and obvious influence on Batman Begins. It’s an interesting perpetual character cycle, where the character is constantly renewed and reinvigorated by successive adaptations.

We all go a little mad some times…

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