The Last Knight
Batman Ghosts is the third part of Batman A Haunted Knight. Once the team behind this story is Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb. I believe this was the gig that got them the sensational, unbelieveable, outstanding, other enthusiastic adjectives: Long Halloween. From the last two pieces of work (sounds a bit like an old woman calling something a piece of work) I can see why they were given such a long run. Does this tale live up to Fears (which I enjoyed) or is it more like Madness (which I thought was meh). Read my review to find out.
First Appearance In Canon of Lucius Fox, The Wayne Foundation, Penguin and Poison ivy
A Christmas Carol
This book is a reworking of the famous tale by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. You may recognise this concept from the recently released book, Batman: Noel by Lee Bermejo.
The latter is one of my favourite Batman books, so it is hard to not draw comparisons with this whilst reading it. Whereas Bermejo had an entire graphic novel, Loeb and Sale have one issue. Due to this the story feels rather condensed and compressed. I wish that they’d been given more room to really stretch things out, due to this the book suffers worse than America will when they can only vote for Trump or Hilary.
Whilst I hate The Mad Hatter for being a straight up plagiarism (I still don’t know how DC haven’t been sued for that), I see this more as an homage. A remake of the classic if you will. Whilst the concept itself is good, the fact that they just replace Dickensian characters with Batman ones deducts originality points for me. I wish they’d used this final chapter to tell something that we had never seen before.
“This is someone’s idea of a Halloween Joke”
The book begins at a party, Penguin bursts in, same old same as the last two books. It’s a shame that Loeb and Sale pretty much copy and pasted their introductions from the last two books. Whilst in a Wagner work this would feel intentional, here it just feels lazy. Like “I wish McDonalds did delivery” lazy. Sure it looks great but it could’ve been more.
Batman of course saves the party, Penguin tries to escape, he chases him through the city, tied to his jetpack. It’s very reminiscent of the intro of Batman Forever. Except there isn’t some idiot wearing a Two Face costume hamming it up and no bat nipples….shame.
They spend more time on this section than they do the actual Christmas Carol which is very strange to me. It’s almost as if they wrote this out to be just action filler, made it as expansive and exciting as possible and then realised they only had 6 pages left so had to jam in the rest of the story in.
Why does batman ghosts like Bob Marley Sandwiches…cos they got Jam In….what….ffs man need to stop putting jokes in the review.
Mind Your Manors
The story really picks up when Bruce returns to the manor. He sees the ghost of his father on the door knob and knows that this night will be different from all others. He arrives at the staircase with a fever that Alfred puts down to “bad seafood,” I’m not even joking and Bruce rushes to bed.
“Wayne manor, my father’s home, no matter how long I live here I will always think of it as that”
The mansion has a size and scope to it that I’ve only really ever seen done in Sale’s work. He really does add an atmosphere to the landscape that gives it a desolateness and creepiness. This ties into the Victorian feel of the Dickensian story and gives it the character that makes you believe that Ghosts really could be apparent in this space. I wouldn’t like to spend a night there, it would definitely be a 1 star on trip advisor for me and i’m the type of guy who never gives bad reviews….I just write review badly. The Gothic edge element that Sale adds is his greatest strength and I wish that this book had’ve been longer to really see what he could’ve done with the mansion
Batrick Swayze In Ghost
Bruce is visited by four ghosts throughout the course of the night. First his father appears in chains, warning him about the burdens that we create in life following us through eternity in death. This isn’t the muppets Christmas Carol, the text has real weight to it and makes us question if Bruce’s sacrifices in life are truly worth it if this is going to be his fate. As readers we just want what is best for him and even as a reader you can be forgiven for wanting him to give up. It is our investment in the character that really adds weight to this moment and knocks the comic up out of it’s mediocrity.
Every Rose Has It’s Thorn
Bruce is then visited by Poison Ivy, he’s taken back to his childhood where we see how his father could never take him trick or treating as he was always busy…doing less important things….like saving lives at the hospital…
It clearly transmits the idea that in the same way Bruce obsesses over fighting crime, his father did the same with the medical profession. It’s a nice touch that’s been done before but is given weight by the fact that Bruce is dressed as Zorro, foreshadowing his future. How it could’ve been so different if he’d only been given that Timmy Mallet costume…..Mallet Man…..shit…I better copyright and trademark that before DC steal it….yeah I’m looking at you DC and your Christmas Carol and Alice In Wonderland Rip offs….you make me sick….anyway I digress.
He’s then transported to the first time to his time in Paris, he saves a young Lucius Fox from a mugging and it paints a vivid picture of how reckless Bruce was before he donned the Bat moniker. We are also filled in on his friendship with Lucius and how their partnership was formed. This is a neat little backstory that comes to fruition in the end.
Jokes On You.
Bruce is then visited by the Joker, where he shows children scared to trick or treat the manor. This is completely breezed through and it’s a shame that his arch nemesis doesn’t get more screen time. I just feel like this segment is rushed and a wasted opportunity. Sale draws him brilliantly, his grin covering entire panels, but it is wasted here as he is not around long enough to make a lasting impression.
When Bruce is visited by Death and it turns out to be Batman then the book begins drawing to a close. I really wish they didn’t feel as rushed as it limits their impact. It shows that Batman’s selflessness has removed any chance of enabling Bruce to have a happy life, something that his parent’s would have wanted. This is in the subtext though and may be missed by some readers.
When Bruce awakes it is completely ridiculous that they explain it away as being a hallucination caused by bad seafood from the party. This completely takes away the power of the book and makes the issues raised here feel pointless. The book has a tense moment when we are lead to believe that Bruce may give up Batman, much in the same way that Scrooge stopped being a dickhead but this isn’t the case.
Bruce meets with Lucius and creates the Wayne Foundation. In contrast with the book this is an enjoyable ending that demonstrates how open Bruce has become now. He is no longer shutting himself off from the world….once again opening up a space for a sidekick.
Unfortunately this book feels rushed and lacks any real impact. Noel covers the same concept and I feel that in the latter it is done a lot better in both pacing, story telling and art.
This is the weakest chapter in Haunted Knight and the canon read through thus far.
I give it a
Haunted Knight Verdict
Overall, Haunted knight started off great but gets worse as it goes on. I feel the copy and paste format of the story really lets the book down. It certainly is worth picking up as these stories are enjoyable and evoke feelings of The Animated Series, however it pales in comparison when compared to the Long Halloween and Dark Victory.
Overall I give Haunted Knight
Leave a comment whether you agree with my ranking or not.