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Book Review:
BATMAN: HAUNTED KNIGHT

Author: Bill Ramey
Saturday, November 11, 2006

SYNOPSIS FROM DC COMICS:
"This graphic novel includes three dark tales of horror and intrigue featuring Batman facing off against his most demented and wicked foes. Taking place on the most evil of holidays, Halloween, the Darknight Detective confronts his deepest fears as he tries to stop the madness and horror created by Scarecrow, the Mad Hatter, the Penguin, Poison Ivy and the Joker."

I’m sort of ashamed to admit that for almost 10 years, I ignored The Batman in his original form -- comic books.

I guess I’m not that ashamed because I thought that most of them, well, sucked during that period of Batman’s history.

But in late 2005 I returned to the world of Batman In Comics (cheap plug intended) and I’m certainly glad that I did. After DC’s INFINTE CRISIS miniseries, The Batman has be exorcised of his sociopathic ways, and has returned to being a more heroic character. More importantly, he’s rather likable once again.

Anyway, I’ve also been catching up on the Bat-things that I missed during the late 90s and half of the 2000s. Looking back, I can’t believed I missed the Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale collaborations that are now considered modern classics: THE LONG HALLOWEEN and DARK VICTORY. But there is yet another Batman TPB featuring the team of Loeb and Sale: BATMAN: HAUNTED KNIGHT.

In fact, HK actually predates TLH and DV and actually is what led to the two latter stories.

B: HK features three Batman stories which, I believe, were originally published as single comic books back in the early to mid 1990s. Like the other Loeb/Sale partnerships (THE LONG HALLWEEN and DARK VICTORY), the stories of HAUNTED KNIGHT are set during the early days of The Batman’s career. So if you are a fan the aforementioned Loeb/Sale books, BATMAN: YEAR ONE, or the recent “DARK MOON RISING” Batman books by Matt Wagner, you are sure to dig HAUNTED KNIGHTS.

Story one is titled, “FEARS” and guess who the main villain is here? Yep, Dr. Jonathan Crane, AKA “The Scarecrow.” It is easily the best of this TPS’s three stories. It includes just about everything that makes for a great Batman story -- detective work a crazy-ass bad guy, and The Batman working with (not yet Commissioner) Gordon. There is also a nice subplot involving Bruce’s growing relationship with a mysterious young woman named Jillian.

Story two, “MADNESS,” is a somewhat disturbing story about The Mad Hatter and his kidnapping of young children. One of them just happens to be the newly adopted daughter of Captain Jim Gordon, Barbara.

And the third and final chapter of HAUNTED KNIGHT is titled “GHOSTS” and is inspired by Charles Dicken’s A CHRISTMAN CAROL. Here’s the premise: take Scrooge and replace him with The Dark Knight and set it during Halloween instead of Christmas. And like A CHRISTMAS CAROL, The Batman is visited by three spirits (well, actually four if you included Marley/Dr. Thomas Wayne) that will lead to an epiphany for Bruce Wayne. Batman fans will also enjoy the appearance of Lucius Fox, including his first encounter with the young Bruce Wayne. Oh, Poison Ivy and The Joker are in it too -- sort of.

Personally, I found the stories found within HAUNTED KNIGHT excellent and immensely engaging. If I have a hard time putting a comic book down, then I know it’s a good one. This one comes highly recommended by yours truly to all Batman fans.

Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and editor in chief of
BATMAN ON FILM, BATMAN IN COMICS, and ON-FILM.NET.

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