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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Lovers & Madmen (Hardback)


Author: Michael Green
Artists: Denys Cowan and John Floyd
Titan Books
RRP: £16.99, US $24.99, Cdn $27.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 722 8
ISBN-10: 1 84576 722 5
Available 23 May 2008

Early in his career as Gotham City's vigilante protector, the Dark Knight has seemingly done the impossible. Crime is down, hope is up and the people of Batman's beloved, besieged home are finally sleeping easily. And for the first time in years, the hero also known as Bruce Wayne has found room in his haunted heart for love. But there's a wild card on the way, known to the few lowlifes who've worked with him and walked away breathing as "Jack." He's a sociopath who's found a new reason for living: to beat the Bat. His crimes display no pattern, no motive and no remorse. And Gotham's greatest detective is powerless to stop them. Now Batman must throw away everything he thought he knew about crime fighting to battle a new breed of killer. In his desperate race to stop this monster, will he become a monster himself? And when his plan to put an end to the menace that threatens those closest to him goes awry, will he unleash an even greater evil...?

Lovers & Madmen collects together issues #6-12 of Batman Confidential. This is a Batman tale that features yet another Joker origin story. Yes, I hear you yawning. However, it's not fully revealed that the master criminal is The Joker until around two thirds into this collection. But I doubt I'm spoiling anything as it's pretty obvious from the start - although those not so quick on the ball may be given a bit of a hint by the fact that the Joker's face is plastered on the cover.

Gotham City is plagued with crime and corruption in places high and low, but one man has taken a stand against evil of all forms: the dark avenger known as Batman. It is the beginning of the Dark Knight's war on crime, and it is progressing well - so well, in fact, that Bruce Wayne is finding time to look for love as well as fight crime. But then the mysterious 'Jack', a crack-shot psychopath with no sense of humour, begins to fixate on Batman, threatening both the life of Bruce Wayne's lover and the fragile peace Batman has established. Will the joke be on the Dark Knight?

Michael Green, writer/producer of NBC's Heroes, teams with Batman artist Denys Cowan for a tale set early in the career of the Dark Knight that sheds light on who the Joker was before he became the Clown Prince of Crime. Discover how Batman first crossed paths with the punk who was destined to become his deadliest foe, and see just how far he'll go in order to bring down the new criminal insanity that's inspiring Gotham City's underworld. It also shows the origins of a few other characters as well as the construction of Arkham Asylum.

While I'm not a huge fan of origin story lines, Lover & Madmen does offer a few little treats for Batman fans. Just don't expect it to rock your world by saying anything surprisingly new, and you'll come away pleased.


Nick Smithson

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