Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: Batmobile - The Complete History & The Dark Knight Manual

I'm not too proud to admit it. When I got hold of the latest books from Insight Editions featuring our favourite mentally-deranged orphan, I was emitting the sorts of high-pitched noises only dogs can hear. Batmobile: The Complete History puts readers in the driver's seat of the Dark Knight's iconic ride throughout the decades, and The Dark Knight Manual gives you a peek into Bruce Wayne's little book of Bat-secrets.

Head below the cut for a hands on look at these two impressive tomes. Holy Hardcover, Batman!

Batmobile: The Complete History

Batman's trusty steel steed has undergone a fair few facelifts over over the last 70-odd years, but has remained at all times one of the most important and recognisable items in the Dark Knight's mythology. Able to shoot fear into the hearts of Gotham's worst just by being present, the Batmobile will always be the epitome of a Bad Ass Ride.

In this 148-page hardcover from writer Mark Cotta Vaz, we're literally taken under the hood of the old girl, and given a fascinating insight into it's evolution from the pop art convertible of the 60s to Nolan's modern street tank.

From concept sketches to prop models to the final full-sized cars, we're given a wealth of information about the work that's gone into keeping the car fresh and alive for each new generation. I've never been a massive fan of the new Tumbler, but luckily there were lots of shiny photos of a couple of my favourite incarnations.

As camp and silly as it may be, the 60s Batmobile packed a visual punch. The streamlined black and red convertible was just damn sexy, and I'm a big fan of the design. I'll even sit through movies with rubber sharks for it.

My other favourite will likely have purists doing a little vomit in their mouth, but hey, this movie was more or less my introduction to the Bat at a mere 10 years old, and it will always have a place in my heart.

'It's the car, right? Chicks dig the car'. BATMAN FOREVER 4 LYFE. No, no, wait! I'm sorry! Don't leave! There's more! No, not more of Batman Forever, more of the Batmobile. Man, you guys are touchy. Towards the end of the book is a gatefold featuring all the physical cars from the 60s to present assembled together. It's pretty impressive. I can only imagine all the raging nerd-boners in that room.

The Dark Knight Manual

Okay guys, you might want to take a seat before this one. I could describe in this book in a proper reviewerly fashion and tell you that it's 122 pages of sketches, diagrams, blueprints and all sort of other things that form the construction of the Batman persona, but instead I will just tell you that this book is a wet dream for Batman fans. I'm not even slightly exaggerating.

The book is structured like a notebook or a diary, basically Bruce Wayne's notes on his journey to becoming Batman. It's set in the modern Nolan universe, and features all the new gadgets and villains from The Dark Knight Rises.

We start off with the case file for the murder of Bruce's parents, and this thing is seriously a case file stuck into a hardcover book. Look at it. Amazing. The handwriting is one of the first hints we get at how much of a human touch has been applied to the book. Scattered throughout we find post-it notes from various sources, mainly technical notes from Lucius Fox, and occasionally a wonderfully passive-aggressive one from Alfred.

Everything feels incredibly organic, and has such a natural flow that it's almost easy to forget you're not actually reading Bruce Wayne's notebook. His logo sketches look like pages pulled straight out of a visual diary.

Every so often through the book there are pull out sections that reveal schematics for some iconic parts of the Bat-universe. The blueprints for the Batcave and Arkham Asylum proved too hard to photograph well, but the 'Bat' from the new movie was a little easier.

The real triumph of this book is in the little details. Stuff you never really expected to see, or thought you wanted to know about, is offered up to add such a rich level of immersion that I was geeking out practically every time I turned the page. These Gotham services logos are actual stickers that you could in theory stick on your car or whatever, but it'd pretty much be blasphemy unless you had a second copy of the book.

Harvey Dent election propaganda, and an emergency room report? Come now, you're just being too good to us.

Further back in the book there are files for Batman's foes, up to and including Bane. Obviously the Joker's file is the main drawcard in there, but I'll leave that one for you guys to see when you go and buy the book. I'll instead give you Cillian Murphy's devastating cheekbones.

On the very very last page of the book, there's one final envelope. It's much bigger than the others, and whatever was inside felt quite bulky. I pulled it out, and it turned out to be a map of...


A full map of Gotham City. It's a little taller and thinner than A3 size, and was a perfect note for the book to finish on. I'm tempted to buy another copy, so I can keep one complete and frame stuff in the other one. This map would look fantastic up on the wall.

Both of these books are fantastic, and must-haves for any Batman fan, but I think The Dark Knight Manual might have won out over Batmobile: The Complete History for me today. With Christmas (sort of) coming up, these are an easy fix for any Batman-loving person you have to buy for. Trust me, they'll go crazy for them. You can find Batmobile: The Complete History here, and The Dark Knight Manual here.

1 comment:

  1. Oh god. The Manual. I'm a sucker for Extra Bits. This looks Amazing!!