War Crimes

Authors: Various
Artists: Various
Titan Books
RRP 7.99
ISBN 1 84576 246 0
Available 23 June 2006

Stephanie Brown wanted to be the Batman's newest partner. She failed. She died. And now, amid widespread accusations that he was at fault, the Dark Knight begins an investigation into her murder that ultimately leads to Gotham City's undisputed mob boss, the Black Mask. But as rumours of a violent, almost crazed Batman spread through the city streets, many wonder if the Dark Knight has been pushed over the edge. Will the sudden arrival of his deadliest opponent, the Joker, coupled with the return of another old foe, long believed dead, make a volatile situation even worse? And who will survive when Batman at last confronts Stephanie's true killer...?

War Crimes starts with a couple of one-issue stories that help set up the background for the main tale. This sees Batman on the trail of a killer who is trying to frame Batman for what appear to be a spate of bat related attacks. Who is doing this and why? The trail eventually leads Batman to track down Stephanie's killer.

What was really interesting about this collection was the fact that there are so many red herrings that when the twist is delivered it knocked me for six. In fact I was so impressed by the misleading side stories that I instantly turned to the front and started reading again - something I haven't been moved to do for a long time.

There are also a number of times when Batman acts totally out of character - walking into a bar and starting a fight until the locals give him information he is after, is the most notable example - which really helps to sell the idea that Batman may be falling apart.

The narrative flows incredibly smoothly, which is impressive when you consider that five different writers worked on various parts. The artwork also neatly blends together - again, five different artists were involved.

If you are a Batman fan then this collection represents some of the finest storytelling ever committed to paper. If you followed the events that unfolded in the War Games series then this is the perfect conclusion, Quite frankly one of the most satisfying Batman tales I've ever read.

Darren Rea

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