Batman - The Great Detective?

All crime fiction readers have their favourite detective whether it is the dramatic Sherlock Holmes or the ‘little grey cells’ of Hercule Poirot. Or maybe you prefer the flamboyance of Lord Peter Wimsey or poetic Adam Dalgliesh?

There is a proliferation of detectives with their own whims and strange behaviour, but there is one ‘detective’ who isn’t normally given the recognition he is due. Maybe it is because he is more well-known for being classed as a ‘comic book’ character but ‘The Batman’ has certainly earned his spurs over the decades as a man who has pitted his wits against some of the most bizarre and grotesque creations of the last century.

The Batman could easily be classed as the Sherlock Holmes of Gotham City. With his arch nemesis, a ‘pas de deux’ has been danced for over seventy years between Batman and The Joker. The Batman/Joker rivalry is ingrained in the same foundations as Holmes and Moriarty: a need for the arch-enemy to prove his superior intelligence and for the detective to show that he is more than a match to any diabolical scheme.

Both Moriarty and The Joker loathe such men for their ‘do-good’ mentality and crave to show their acumen through riddles and puzzles that they believe will outmanoeuvre their rival and prove their superiority. As with all good fiction, this hardly ever happens as we readers do love it when Chaos knocks Order off it’s pedestal – only to then cheer when Order overcomes Chaos
and Order is restored once more. Isn’t that the basis of all crime novels?

With the timelessness of comics, we have been able to see Batman evolve. From emulating Holmes by knowing off the top of his head where a certain sample of mud comes from which bay in Gotham, to being able to use such modern methods as DNA. But even now, the two great detectives have much in common. Both detectives are what you could call flamboyant in their methods and still now, like Holmes, Batman uses disguises to infiltrate the criminal world, his most famous invention being ‘Matches Malone’.

2012 heralds the new Christopher Nolan film ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ which completes the Batman Trilogy of films. Here Nolan has taken the essence of one of the most famous and controversial storylines in Batman’s history: ‘Knightfall’.

In this saga Batman is threatened by many of his enemies including Poison Ivy, The Mad Hatter, The Scarecrow and of course, The Joker. But there is a new threat in town – Bane. I am sure that I will not be spoiling it for many by telling you that this first in the trilogy of graphic novels finishes with Batman having his back broken by Bane.

In the hideous film ‘Batman and Robin’, Bane was nothing more than Poison Ivy’s numbskull sidekick. In the graphic novels Bane is portrayed as a schemer, a man who runs the gauntlet with the great Batman. He may have the brawn but he has brains, too.

If like millions of people you will be queuing to see the new Dark Knight movie then I strongly suggest you settle yourself down to the ‘Batman: Knightfall’ novel. With pencils by many artists including the great Jim Aparo (who with the Brave and the Bold series brought the detective in Batman to the fore in the 1970’s), ‘Knightfall’ is indeed a modern classic. I am sure that even Sherlock Holmes would have seen a little of himself and his determination to work on the side of Order in The Batman. And thankfully both are detectives that are rediscovered generation after generation and we can be thankful they will both be around to set the world to rights for many decades, if not centuries, to come!


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