I was introduced to Darwyn Cooke’s Batman work not long ago with the one-shot BATMAN/THE SPIRIT
he did for DC. Being a tad lighter in tone than what I’m used to with Batman, I wasn’t overlay impressed. Despite that, I decided that I would buy the Darwyn Cooke Batman collection, BATMAN: EGO and OTHER TALES
, when it was released.
And I’m glad I did.
This book includes six stories in which Mr. Cooke was either the author, artist, or both. Two of them -- the one shot BATMAN: EGO and the graphic novel CATWOMAN: SELINA’S BIG SCORE -- are the two feature tales of the book. Also included are the short stories “HERE BE MONSTERS,” “THE MONUMENT,” “DATE KNIGHT,” and “DÉJÀ VU.” Mr. Cooke is helped out on a few of these by Paul Grist, Bill Wray, and Tim Sale.
Of the short stories, I particularly enjoyed “DATE KNIGHT” and “DÉJÀ VU.” “DATE KNIGHT” -- with art by the great Tim Sale -- plays out like an aerial dance/fight between Catwoman and The Batman. “DÉJÀ VU” is actually a redo of the classic 70s Bat-Tale “NIGHT OF THE STALKER” from DETECTIVE #439. This simply is one fantastic story with great artwork and writing by Cooke. And the fact that The Batman doesn’t say a single word in it makes it that much more powerful.
Of the two “Featured Stories,” I was particularly fond of BATMAN: EGO. The other -- SELINA’S BIG SCORE is no slouch, but I personally am not much on solo Catwoman stories. However if you are, you’ll love it as it has a very good storyline and Cooke’s interpretation of Catwoman is especially sexy. If you’ve seen his work in THE SPIRIT, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
But this EGO...Man! What a marvelous story! It is an internal battle between the two “beings” that inhabit the body of Bruce Wayne. One is the Bruce Wayne who is still the good and righteous little boy he was until his parents were violently taken away from him. The other is of course The Batman -- the uncompromising, justice-seeking, violent creature of the night.
Who IS the real Bruce Wayne? Is he just one of them? Must one personality totally succumb to the other? Or perhaps the real Bruce Wayne is some combination of both of these beings?
"You think you know pain, you COWARD! I will show you PAIN!"
The Batman vs. Bruce Wayne in BATMAN: EGO (© DC COMICS)
EGO is simply one heck of a good read and instantly became one of my favorite single Batman stories. Ego is not only a powerfully written story, its artwork is fantastic as well. It definitely has a “Year One” vibe, but it’s, well, different. If you are familiar with Cooke’s stuff, there is an “animated” sort of look and feel to his stories, but not in a “cartoonish” way. EGO's panel layouts along with expressions on people’s faces -- expression that seemed speak a thousand words -- they just jumped out at me. I found the combination quite powerful.
The book is presently available as a hardcover with a cover price of $24.99. It also includes an introduction by Mr. Cooke as well as his comments on each individual story.
I enjoyed every minute I spent reading BATMAN: EGO and OTHER TALES. I’m glad that I purchased it and added it to my Bat-Library. I believe you will too and it comes highly recommended by yours truly.