Darwyn Cooking Up A Storm
They say ‘Judge A Book By It’s Cover’ but with the striking art by the late Darwyn Cooke, it’s hard not to.
Instantly you get flashes of the Batman Animated Series and Max Fleischer. It’s clear the artist and writer is as influenced as he is influential and his reputation precedes him.
Whilst I have read Batman: Ego before, I was a lot younger and wasn’t really equipped to enjoy it at the level that I hear that many do. I disliked it’s length and lack of action. Struggling with it’s inner turmoil.
Luckily I’ve grown up since then.
Nowadays I much prefer the psychological look at Batman over action and feel that the depth of these indepth looks far outweigh the style over substance, BIFF! POW! and BANG! scenes of action heavy works.
This is my second visit to the book and I am very excited to jump back in to the pages of what is regarded by many as one of the best.
The book opens with Batman gazing over Gotham. He introspectively analyses the past three years. Has much changed in Gotham? Is his obsession worth anything? The book will answer this eventually but for the moment it’s opening provides a really interesting look on the Dark Knight. He is a man, filled with all the doubt and lack of confidence that men have. He is only human after all. I loved this somber opening and you are instantly sucked into Cookes Art Deco depiction of Gotham in a way that few writers are able to match.
This is quickly broken by tragedy. A criminal that Batman has been chasing for days appears at the bridge and through fear commits suicide. Batman is unable to grasp exactly why he took his own life but the fact that he was unable to save him truly haunts the Caped Crusader.
Bruce VS Batman
Upon returning to the batcave Bruce is visited by a spectre in the form of Batman. This wraith announces himself as the embodiment of fear and takes him on a journey from when they first met, to present day. It’s clear that this is a hallucination of Bruce’s alter ego, however it provides all the fear that a physical villain would. We are informed that Bruce invented the Batman out of the fear that surrounded his parents death. He then took this pain and shared it with those who deserved it.
It’s rare to see such a confirmation of Bruce’s insanity within a comic. Creators often shy away from it due to the condemnation that it could provide but Cooke basks in it. Never before or since has there been such an introspective look at why Bruce does the things he does and the book is a very unique take.
Throughout the inner turmoil the Batman tries to make a deal with Bruce. They will truly split their consciousness. Bruce will be free to live a happy life, full of women and splendours, but when the sun goes down The Batman will take over.
It seems like the one deal that could at least give the Bruce side a care free life. However he rejects this, realising that if the Batman were to gain total control then he would become a monster. The two argue and the fight for sanity and control is a truly gripping one.
Eventually Bruce settles it and they come to a mutual agreement. Realising that the only thing that separates them from the criminals of Gotham is that they refuse to take that leap from vigilante to murderer. Bruce leaves the cave with a photo of his parents, treasuring the upbringing and morality that they gave him.
Due to it’s short length I am unable to put Batman Ego as absolutely essential. That doesn’t take away from what it is. The art is absolutely sublime and the psychological look at the split personality that the Caped Crusader possesses is seldom touched upon in comics. Throughout Ego I found myself questioning if I even knew Batman as well as I thought I did and this is Ego’s strength.
It doesn’t rely on heavy action scenes. Nor does it even require them. This is a story about Bruce looking in a mirror and questioning his need to exist. Something that all people face once in their life.
The book is expertly told and whilst it is hard to recommend to casual fans it certainly is worth seeking out if you are interested in the twisted mind of Bruce Wayne.
Ego is an innovative look at why Batman does what he does and it’s depth has rarely been matched and that’s why it gets a….
If you’ve been following my reviews then you know that i’m ranking the books as I read them in what all the fans of me lovingly call ‘Rank As I Read’ or ‘Rank As You Read’…I don’t know, I can’t remember, you do though as you’re a proper fan.
So here is the leaderboard so far.
- Batman The Long Halloween
- Batman And The Monster Men
- Batman Dark Victory
- Batman: The Man Who Laughs
- Batman: Year One
- Batman: Venom
- Batman: Gothic
- Batman Snow
- Batman: Fears
- Batman: Prey
- Robin Year One
- Batman And The Mad Monk
- Batman Ego
- Batman: Shaman
- Batgirl Year One
- Catwoman When In Rome
- Batman: Madness
- Batman: Ghosts