Batman and the Mad Monk

Author: Matt Wagner
Artist: Matt Wagner
Titan Books
RRP: 8.99, US $14.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 495 1
ISBN-10: 1 84576 495 1
Available 27 July 2007

The Dark Knight has seen much in the little more than a year since he first began to wage his war against the criminals of Gotham. He's seen mobsters rise and fall. He's seen bad cops punished and good cops rise to take their place. He's even fought monstrous creations of mad science. But the world's greatest detective has never seen anything that goes against everything he knows to be true... until now. A rash of bodies has been discovered in Gotham, with the only common characteristics being neck wounds and a lack of blood. There can only be one incredible conclusion... a vampire is on the prowl in Batman's neck of the woods...

Batman and the Mad Monk sees Gotham City's Police Department trying to track down the killer/s responsible for a steady flow of corpses - all of which turn up drained of blood and with puncture marks on their necks.

To discover the truth, Batman must infiltrate the fearsome organisation called the Brotherhood, whose fanatical loyalty to their leader, the mysterious Monk, is ingrained in their very blood. But if Batman can't solve this mystery, the next victim may be the woman he loves.

Author Matt Wagner revisits the early career of the young Batman in another adventure inspired by DC's Golden Age in this sequel to Batman and the Monster Men. The Dark Knight is learning that there are more twisted faces of evil than those worn by the street criminals and mobsters of Gotham. But is his training enough to get the job done without any innocent casualties?

While this collection is a great read, I had one small complaint. Why is it that all too often with retro stories that deal with an established character's early years, that the author insists on ending the tale with a nod and a wink to the audience. With this collection it's an early crime that is obviously the work of the Joker (even though Batman and the Gotham City Police Department have yet to come across his antics) and a rather obvious billboard poster advertising the Haly Circus and the Flying Graysons. Once I used to smile at such references. Now I just groan with the predictability of it all.

But, if you ignore that very minor offence, you'll love this tale. In fact you'd be mad not to pick up this engaging Batman collection.

Darren Rea

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