Bruce Becomes The Bat
Oh, there you are. You must be following my read through of all the batman graphic novels considered canon. This week i’m back with Batman: Shaman.
This really rare out of print book often goes for ridiculous amounts of money on Amazon and Ebay. Being a billionaire playboy though I have managed to get a copy. Does it measure up to Year One? Read my review to find out.
First Appearance Of: The Batcave, Leslie Thompkins, the mention of Santa Prisca.
The book takes place directly before, during and after Year One and it mirrors the tone of it’s predecessor perfectly. Bruce starts out on an expedition in the mountains following his guide on the trail of a bounty hunter. The guide is murdered, Bruce clashes with the bounty hunter and gets most of his protective clothing torn. He wanders off in the snow to what he believes to be an icy end (he even dreams of a snowman shooting his parents…bit abstract….bit crap).
Fear not though! This is not the end of the Batman read through! Put down that Beano Book.
He is found by native Americans and nursed back to health by a, you bloody guessed it, Shaman!
Bruce returns to Gotham, elements of Year One play out (shown beautifully from different angles) and he becomes the Batman, we (or at least I), know and love.
Chubala Ma Tata
Things change when he is on patrol and a woman he rescues kills herself because she believes him to be an Ancient Bat creature. She screams ‘CHUBALA’ just before doing it and this sets Bruce off on the trail of human sacrifice, ritualistic murder and drug trafficking.
So yeah, one for the kids.
The great thing about this book is that it follows the psychology of Bruce very closely, this is the book where I think Bruce becomes the mask and Batman the true face. Dennis O’Neil absolutely smashed this. It feels like a continuous story from Year One and fits the tone perfectly. It’s as grounded as Miller’s work was and even the more supernatural elements are presented as something that you believe could happen. Batman is first and foremost a detective in this chapter of the run.
This book features the first appearance in canon of the Batcave and Leslie Thompkins. It also mentions Santa Prisca in passing, which would come to be famous for being Bane’s Home.
I Am Watching You All Of You…FOREVER
Alfred really comes into his own in this book, he has the best lines on every page in which he appears, he did good for us English people, proud of you Alfie. It’s good to see him getting more time than he did in Year One After all his hard work making the tea and dusting the manor, he deserves it.
This story to me is about the destruction of ancient myths and the creation of new ones. Superstition is prevalent throughout, people are afraid of the Batman. This isn’t like an issue where he runs up to a gang and they immediately fight back, in Shaman the gang see him, they run.
The book even has a little mystery to solve, I didn’t get it the first read through but on the second I picked it up and it added depth to an already very deep book.
Ed Hannigan and John Beatty really nail the art. Being so closely tied to Year One it had to Mirror it and it does, beautifully. As mentioned earlier they rehash some panels from Year One and honestly, after reading both I couldn’t really tell the difference, it was seamless. It has a realistic tone to it that really helps to cement the book within the world it should be and it’s a shame DC stopped printing this brilliant looking book.
Whilst I have less problems with it than Year One I also don’t think that it reaches the highs that YO does. Due to this the book is hard to rank. I definitely think that hardcore Batman fans should pick it up, even for it’s steep price tag. However, the story is not essential and there are many elements that would appear later in the canon to craft how Batman becomes. So if you are just dabbling in the Batman graphic novels, either wait till this has a price drop, or skip it.
Whilst doing this read through I’m going to rank the books as I read them, in a part of the show that i’ve lovelingly called ‘RANK AS I READ.’
Here are how the books sit so far.