The Dark Knight

My sister and I spent a few summers at our cousin’s house in Massachusetts. The four of us would spend the days building forts in the woods and acting out scenes from Batman. We created costumes, masks, utility belts and weapons from construction paper and went wild around the yard. We took turns being Batman and Robin, and their arch enemies Joker, Penguin, Catwoman and the Riddler. We’d practice our karate moves and yell out “Kapow!” “Boom!” and “Crash!” just like Adam West and Burt Ward would in their television show. It was so much fun to be in an alternate world for a while. I guess I never really left that world. I’ve been reading comics and watching movies about Bruce Wayne ever since.

OWL’s collection features the Dark Knight in various forms. To commemorate the start of the superhero themed summer reading program, Batman and Batgirl will be visiting OWL on June 25 from 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Here are a few of my favorites to celebrate:

For early readers, the Batman series is a good start. While it still has color photos and graphic style words, the series is for beginning readers who can independently read while enjoying some elements of a picture book.

For teens and adults there is an ample selection of Batman graphic novels. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is the quintessential Batman comic book. This is what put Frank Miller on the map (the man behind Sin City and 300). This novel tells the story of the middle-aged Bruce Wayne who comes out of retirement. Not only does he come up against the usual foes (Two-Face and Joker), he also battles the Gotham City police department and the U.S. government in this dystopian version of Gotham.

Brian Azzarello’s Joker is told from the perspective of Jonny Frost; Joker’s henchmen who picks him up from Arkham Asylum. In this unique, seedy depiction of Gotham, Frost helps Joker try to regain control of crime, bumping up against Penguin, Two-Face and Killer Croc.

Though Bruce Wayne makes small cameo appearances, Identity Crisis is my ultimate favorite graphic novel. Brad Meltzer, prolific mystery writer of novels, television shows, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, wrote the most gripping mystery I’ve yet to find in the medium. The main characters are not the usual “big three,” instead superheroes such as Hawkman, Atom, and Black Canary are featured when Elongated Man’s wife is found murdered. This had me guessing through the whole story…and I still didn’t guess correctly!

Bruce Wayne on film has morphed through many different actors over the years. They all brought different strengths and weaknesses to the character. I really enjoy Christian Bale for the lead in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. His raspy voice helps bring a sense of fright to the character we never saw in past films. He takes the role more seriously than Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney combined. I highly recommend Bale’s Batman for viewing. If Gotham City existed and creatures like Joker and Harvey Dent lurked on its streets, this is how Batman would have to act to protect the city. 

Who’s your favorite Bruce Wayne?  

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is counting down the days until the release of The Dark Knight Rises (407 if you’re counting, too).

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