Justice Is Blind
Batman Blind Justice was a book that I got around the theatrical release Batman Begins and I hated it.
After Nolan’s realistic take on The Dark Knight I wanted a book that followed suit and the body swap plot that featured just left me bewildered.
This wasn’t my Batman, this was some goofy superhero tale that I didn’t want muddying up my ‘gritty reboot’ bookshelf.
Naturally, I sold it.
Looking back that was a dumb idea as the book is heavily out of print and even if you get a copy, expect to pay through the nose. Luckily for me, I found one on Amazon, ordered it and when it showed up it was pretty battered.
What do you mean that doesn’t sound very lucky?
Well I complained that their ‘like new’ book was pretty destroyed and I didn’t want to send it back so…they gave me it for free.
They weren’t the hero I wanted but the one I deserved.
Anyway enough about me. I’m going into this book with open eyes as I know the success that it has had in the eyes of fans. So will this be the read through that changes my mind? Or will I do an Amazon and be like ‘no just keep it’…to whoever I’m talking to at the time…look I don’t know let’s just get into the review
Blind as a Bat
The book opens with Bruce waking from a dream of his parent’s murder. We’ve seen it several times in the run thus far and it doesn’t feel any fresher in this replay. It ties into the overall theme of the book, a plot which centres around reality and perception but at this point, it felt slightly played out.
We are given a slight insight to Batman’s sleeping patterns and after realising that his body has been trained and honed to require only one hours rest, a lot of the inexplicable acts that have happened thus far in the run are given credibility.
This section feels almost like a waste of an opening. It’s well written and the art is engrossing but I would’ve liked to see slightly more creativity from a team that I know is capable of more.
Whilst I am crucifying the creators for a section that lasts roughly two pages it still sums up most of my ideology towards the book overall. There is a lot here that has been better by other writers. That’s not to say it’s bad but a lot is a rehash that doesn’t quite have the impact of work with similar themes. It’s not reinventing the wheel, that doesn’t mean to say it’s all bad however.
He ain’t heavy…he’s my brother
After the disappointing introduction the story truly picks up. It centres around two plot lines that eventually intertwine to create the overall arc.
The first being Jeannie Bowen who has travelled to Gotham, namely Wayne Enterprises, to find her long lost brother, Roy Kane.
The second focuses on Bone Crusher, a pre-Bane beast of a man that uses sonic waves to disintegrate the bones of his enemies without breaking their skin.
Bone Crusher is a formidable villain and certainly one that feels like a threat to the Caped Crusader in every appearance that he makes. The foe mysteriously commits suicide after each defeat only to be resurrected a few nights later to continue his murder spree.
This ties into Bowen’s search for her brother when we oversee him living amongst the homeless of Gotham. After sharing that the prior night he dreamt of fighting Batman in a situation eerily similar to the Bone Crusher fight, the true mystery of the book begins.
Brother from another Mother
With Jeannie being the latest lady in Gotham, Bruce starts dating her, naturally. Together the two track down Roy in the aftermath of a Bone Crusher attack and learn that they have been psychically linked.
Bruce takes the siblings under his wing at Wayne Manor and is horrified to learn that the experiments carried out on Roy happened within Wayne Enterprises.
I love whenever Bruce builds a family within a book and it has to be noted that Jeannie and Roy are two likeable characters. Introducing new central characters into an arc can often be risky but the brother and sister get you engrossed in the tale and they are definitely a positive of Blind Justice.
With the characters playing a central role we needed to be able to side with them and this is carried out to great effect. I couldn’t have asked for more from a love interest and potential protege.
Bruce finds the body of scientist, Dr Harbringer, and unearths the secrets within Wayne Enterprises. A shadowy organisation has infiltrated the company and is now using the R&D sector to further their experiments.
In what is almost a newspaper clipping we learn that a disabled scientist has been using the mind transfusion device to transfer his consciousness into younger, more athletic bodies. This explains the Roy and Bone Crusher connection and also ties into Bruce’s abilities later in the book.
On my first read this really was the make or break section that made me want to put down the story. It’s absurd in it’s science and at the time felt slightly out of place within a Batman book.
After revisiting the work I had less of a problem with it but I can still see why it would be viewed negatively in modern times.
It all boils down to what you view Batman as. I grew up on books like Year One and The Killing Joke. Ones with realistic tones that depict Batman as a man from our world trying to make a difference.
Often if I reject something from another book if I feel that it cannot fit within this narrative aesthetically.
However, the read-through thus far has prepared me for elements like this to be in the story so it was less annoying on the second visit.
Bruce on trial
Bruce is framed when he attempts to reveal what the organisation is up to. They know that he was missing for seven years and have proposed to the government that he is a communist spy.
This introduces one of the standout moments from the story in which we learn of Bruce’s training throughout the seven years that he disappeared for.
Whilst the prior moments felt somewhat part of the repertoire, this segment really breaks the mould and allows us to engage with the character in a way that we haven’t really had the chance to thus far.
We get full disclosure on all of the techniques used by Bruce’s trainers and it’s a really in-depth look at what the Dark Knight endured in order to become the best vigilante in the world.
Bruce is gunned down at a press conference following his interrogations and I truly feared for the character, even though I know that he will be alright, a feeling which is difficult to obtain in a reader who possesses hindsight and knowledge of the lore.
Another interesting aspect is the fact that Gordon hints that he knows that Bruce is Batman, without ever confirming it.
Not since Year One have we seen him acknowledge something on this level and it builds a bond between the two. Even though Bruce refuses to acknowledge his subtle accusations.
Gordon is no fool, nor should he be treat like one and it’s good to know as a fan that the character has been given the proper respect that he deserves.
The introduction of Henri Ducard (of Batman Begins Fame) is a thrilling element of the book. Through narration, we learn the character’s methods of investigation and it’s a fascinating insight into a man who trained Batman. He even figures out that Bruce is the Caped Crusader and hops from side to side throughout the tale.
Ducard comes across as self-centred and merciless. He has a brilliant mind that he cunningly uses for self-preservation and personal gain. It’s great to see a Batman foe that morally sits within shades of grey and he would’ve sat brilliantly in a book with a more grounded aesthetic.
He’s still exceptional here and used to a great degree, helping to elevate the book on every panel that he appears.
After a small intermission we pick up with Dr Harbringer, the paralysed scientist. He has now transferred his consciousness into a homeless man but is living the high life after transferring bonds, before his death.
Bruce, now wheelchair bound due to the assassination attempt, conspires with Roy to have the Batman continue on and through the mind transfer technique, they start their plan. In controlling Roy, Bruce is able to still be the Batman.
This will either alienate you into the book or keep you engrossed and every reader will probably be different towards the story due to this. Personally I don’t think that Bruce would ever put someone incapable of the fight in harms way so it’s nice that the writer acknowledges this on some level even if the plot still goes ahead. It’s a nice little twist on the characters, the villain gains the ability to walk whilst the hero loses it but it still is very make or break.
It’s great to see the villain now abled bodied and Bruce not and the constant turning of the tables adds to an interesting dynamic.
Bruce tracks down Harbringer and through Roy’s body foils his evil scheme. The book ends on a very sour note with the death of a companion and it tears all of the relationships that our hero built throughout the book apart.
It’s very rare to see a story as fantastical as this end in such despair and it truly cements the fact that this crusade is Bruce’s quest. Through selfishness, others have become endangered along the way.
There is no real hero to this story and the book ends on a poignant panel that really makes you wonder whether Batman is a saviour or not.
Batman Blind Justice is a very controversial chapter from the Dark Knight’s legacy. At times it is one of the most grounded tales to feature the character and at others, it becomes quite absurd. The tonal shift will be something that does not sit with the majority of readers and I suspect that the book’s ending may make some angry and annoyed. However, whether you enjoy the elements or not you cannot deny that the story is well written and it features some landmark moments from Batman’s pantheon.
Overall I enjoyed my time with Blind Justice, I would recommend picking up Gothic over this as it tonally possesses many similarities but the latter feels more creative in the majority of it’s elements. This to me is a book that you should seek out once you have spent a couple of years engrossed in comics and can appreciate the more fantastical elements. This is a book for the seasoned fan. ‘Gritty reboot’ me would’ve scored this lower but now I can appreciate what, with time, is a great Batman story.
(Just make sure your ‘like new’ copy is actually ‘like new’)
Leave a comment whether you agree with my ranking or not.