The tragedy in Colorado doesn't seem to have deterred enthusiasm for "The Dark Knight Rises," which posted the third-highest opening-weekend box office in history. If all those Bat-fans are still in the mood for cape-and-cowl stories, here are four more quality Bat-books from DC Entertainment:
The much anticipated "Batman: Earth One" ($26) written by Geoff Johns reimagines the Dark Knight's origin in the modern day, just as "Superman: Earth One" did for the Man of Steel last year. And it's a corker.
Yes, we all know the outlines of the story: Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered in an alley before his eyes, and he vowed to protect others from the same fate by becoming a masked vigilante. But this updating makes a few changes that not only make the story more plausible, but rams home the emotional punch of the story.
One thing artist Gary Frank does is eliminate the whited-out-eyes look on Batman's cowl and allow Wayne's blue peepers to show through. Another change is to embed many Bat-elements that accrued over the decades right at the beginning, such as Alfred Pennyworth and Arkham Asylum. They flesh out Batman's world immediately in an organic and convincing tapestry.
Further, this Batman is a genuine amateur -- and out for revenge. For Batman to be heroic, and to believably survive, he must become the consummate professional and protector of the innocent we know him to be today. That is, in fact, his story arc -- and it is played for maximum drama, rather than anti-heroism or pratfalls.
"Batman and Robin, Vol. 1: Born to Kill" ($25) allows Batman to grow. The premise of the series is that Batman's 10-year-old biological son, via Ra's al Ghul's daughter and raised by the League of Assassins, is the new Robin. The friction between the Bat and Bird is palpable, as Batman struggles to rein in Robin's homicidal training and recklessness without alienating him completely.
Writer Peter Tomasi shows Bruce Wayne becoming something he never was with the other Robins: a father. His new perspective allows him to bury old ghosts and reconnect with his softer instincts, making for a kinder, gentler Dark Knight.
The controversy over the first lesbian character to headline a comic book sometimes overshadows just how good that book is. I heartily recommend "Batwoman, Vol. 1: Hydrology" ($23) for the sheer skill of writer and artist J.H. Williams III. Not only is he an excellent craftsman and storyteller, but his ingenious use of panel shape and structure adds another layer to his story.
"Batgirl, Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection" ($23) is a good book, with a likable lead character who seems close to writer Gail Simone's heart. But it doesn't include the delightful, sometimes shocking, weirdness of Simone efforts such as "Birds of Prey" and "Secret Six."