GRAPHIC NOVEL
Batman
Rules of Engagement (Hardback)

Author: Andy Diggle
Artists: Whilce Portacio and Richard Friend
Titan Books
RRP: 19.99, US $24.99, Cdn $29.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 619 1
ISBN-10: 1 84576 619 9
Available 21 December 2007


Like two sides of the same coin, Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor are both brilliant billionaires with dark secrets - one is a criminal mastermind, the other dedicates his life to battling crimes as the Dark Knight, Batman. But when both men go after the same government defence contract, they also find themselves sharing an assailant - a killer robot, designed by Wayne Enterprises. How did one of Batman's own creations turn against him? To solve this mystery, the world's greatest detective must dive into a world of industrial espionage, murder and political manipulation as he uncovers an attempt to take over the United States. Will Batman survive when matched against a mind as brilliant and cunning as his own?...

Rules of Engagement is set little more than a year after Bruce Wayne has started fighting crime in Gotham City as the Batman. Wayne is still haunted by the murder of his parents and his inability to rid Gotham of the crime that continually plagues it - crimes such as the horrific slaying of a mother in front of her child that he arrived too late to prevent.

But trouble of an unexpected nature arrives, when Wayne competes with the ruthless scientific genius Lex Luthor for a defence contract. Both men find themselves at the mercy of the very technology that Bruce has been pitching: a battle-ready robot with deadly capabilities.

The robot attack, the mysterious death of the robot's controller and the murder that Batman failed to stop... all are pieces to a puzzle that Batman can barely begin to perceive. Can Gotham's Dark Knight piece the clues together in time to avert a great national disaster? Or will Batman's first encounter whit his evil intellectual equal prove to be his last?

To be honest this didn't feel like an early Batman tale. The size of the operation he has to mount against Luthor is a pretty big task for a man who is still getting used to dressing up in leather and tights. Not only that, but there are two huge flaws in this collection which I'm sure the nit-pickers out there will jump upon.

Firstly, why on earth in Batman's final confrontation does he reveal to Luthor that he is in reality Bruce Wayne? Batman says: "You programmed my machines to kill..." a reference to Luthor having sabotaged Wayne Industries original salvage robots. And it's not as though Batman was doing it knowing full well that there was a twist in the tale - and that Luthor would not be who he seems - for there is one of Luthor's goons standing right there too.

Secondly, with so many people working on Wayne Industries top secret combat plane, wouldn't someone realise that the Batplane was actually the model they'd all worked on for years?

Those moans aside, the end result is another fantastic hardback release that fans will cherish.

Pete Boomer

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