Series: DC Icons #2
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Superheroes
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 2nd 2018
My Rating: 5 Cups
Source: Penguin Random House
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.*Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.
The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.
One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals.
Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope.
In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.
While I wasn't always a big comic book reader, I've always wished for a written version of the superheroes. I was super excited to hear that some very famous superheroes were getting their own books and I jumped at the chance to read one of these stories.
One of my biggest expectations was to have a glimpse into the life of the person behind the superhero mask. And I was very happy when I realized that that's what I was getting. I knew of Batman, but never of Bruce Wayne. Bruce has always been a mystery to me. This book allowed me to understand the man underneath the Batman costume a little bit more. We meet Bruce when he's about to turn eighteen, and the Bruce I met at the beginning of this book was a boy with big dreams, one that is still suffering after the loss of his parents, but one that still holds a small thread of innocence inside of him, the idealism of someone so young. He decides to take it upon himself to help out the police, which doesn't get him any "thank yous", but instead lands him some community service time at the Arkham Asylum. And in that environment you can see his idealism and the innocence I was talking about, because he thinks he can not only help the police, but also help redeem one of the prisoners there. By the end of the novel though I got to see a glimpse of the Batman I've always known of, from the animated show, movies and even the occasional comic books. Bruce starts to realize that some people can't be redeemed, that some people don't just need another chance, and while it's a tough lesson for him to learn, it's one that he needed. He also learned that sometimes you have to do some really risky things in order to save the people he cares about.
Another thing that Bruce learns is how to deal with some tough love from people who don't know him beyond him being the rich orphan, heir to the Wayne empire. The police officer who came up with his punishment represents something that Bruce hasn't had in a very long time: a mother figure. I know he's always had Alfred, but this was different. It was interesting to see Bruce faced with expectations from someone who doesn't care about the fact that he lost his parents, but who at the same time is trying to teach him a valuable lesson. The added element of the lesson coming from an authority figure adds a seriousness to that lesson, and it doesn't allow Bruce to charm his way out things. While Bruce is a smart young man, one who is pretty mature for his age, he also knows how to charm the people around him. And while he accepts that he needs to be punished for what he did, I don't think he really believes the punishment will be that harsh.
The novel uses a lot of mind games, and it's probably the reason why I enjoyed it so much. Madeleine, the inmate that befriends Bruce, is very smart, and she knows just what to say and how to say it to make Bruce take her side, without Bruce even realizing it. While Madeleine isn't one of the good guys, I found myself rooting for her. She's certainly smart, and she certainly shares with Bruce some form of truth, some reality mixed in with the mind games meant to have things play out the way they're supposed to, and I myself didn't really see through it from the very beginning. But the tiny truth that Madeleine shares is heartbreaking and you can see how Bruce could have ended in Arkham himself had he taken different choices, had Alfred not been there for him. That parallel between Bruce and Madeleine hit me harder I think than I expected, and I liked seeing that Bruce himself wasn't immune to Madeleine's tales.
The other thing I enjoyed seeing was the little Easter eggs that Lu masterfully snuck inside the story. I won't go into them, because I want you to discover them, but let's just say that there were a few details and characters in this book that were familiar and that had the nerd in me do a little wiggle.
The ending of the book was interesting and surprising. While I anticipated a few of the things that happened, the ending surprised me, and I'm curious to see if it will somehow reflect in the Catwoman book. All in all, I really enjoyed this story and I am very excited for more superheroes to get their stories told.