Being the Batman is dangerous work. The dude may have survived uncountable scrapes, but his luck couldn’t hold out forever. He has even died on occasion (of course, no superhero in the comic book world stays dead forever…at least no one as popular as Batman). He thought Dick Grayson did an OK job as his temporary stand in, but not a great one. So Mr. Bats very thoughtfully collected all the information he believes is necessary to be him in a volume called The Batman Files. This over-sized, full-color paperback includes reams of Batman’s personal diaries, newspaper clippings about everything from the murder of his parents to the time Joker shot and paralyzed Batgirl and how he got that T. Rex in his trophy room, dossiers on associates and adversaries from Commissioner Gordon to The Riddler to The Mad Hatter, maps of Gotham, blueprints of the various Batmobiles and Batcopters, and other assorted Batmaterial you might need if you ever put down that damn bag of Doritos, get your ass off the couch, and don the cape and cowl so you can pick up where Bruce Wayne left off.
Originally published in hardcover in 2011, The Batman Files is a bit like two other Batman books I reviewed here recently that were also written by Matthew K. Manning. Like Batman: A Visual History, it’s a big, colorful, and canny canned history of Batman’s life and work (though this one really only goes back to the eighties when people like Frank Miller and Alan Moore made The Dark Knight real, real dark). Like The World According to The Joker, it’s a mostly first-person account of the life of one of Gotham’s most well known residents. The format made sense with The Joker, who always had a problem with keeping his thoughts to himself. It’s more unusual for Batman since he’s so famously taciturn. He really spills his guts in The Batman Files, so if you have no problem with the mythic hero getting slightly demystified, you’ll really dig it. It’s also a great, big, piece of eye candy with all its color artwork and moody black & white sketches (no one is credited as artist, so I’m assuming all of the art has been published previously). Because it focuses on the most recent incarnation of Batman, which includes a lot of ugly stuff—like that disabling of Batgirl and Miller’s charming brainwave that Cat Woman used to be a hooker—I can’t say it’s a ton of fun. But I guess fun isn’t what contemporary fans want from their Batman. Frankly, I wanted to know what to do the next time King Tut got bonked on the head by a flowerpot.
Get The Batman Files on Amazon.com here: