By Will Barber – Taylor
Following on from the previous editions looking at the origin of Batman and The Outsiders, this time we look at a caper in which The Dark Knight must not only fight for his life but the lives of the men who made him Batman in The Many Deaths of Batman (Batman 433 -435)
While Batman is away in Paris on a case, all of Gotham is plunged into mourning when the body of a man in a Batman costume is found. As more Batman bodies turn up, the true Dark Knight must return to Gotham to stop the killings but also to save the good name of Bruce Wayne, the next target of the Batman killer.
The Many Deaths of Batman is, unlike the other stories we have looked at in this series, a straightforward murder mystery. It follows a conventional Batman plot in the sense that it concentrates on Batman trying to deduce the identity of the Batman lookalike killer.
The story manages to stand out however, in its execution with the first issue being almost silent. This helps create the impression that the first part almost doesn’t need words because the images themselves speak volumes. This silent approach is not followed through with the rest of the comic (possibly because it would be too hard to convey the entire plot with only a few captions) but is still an interesting experiment in visual storytelling.
The most interesting part relates to Batman’s origin as the victims of the attack are all related to the beginnings of Batman and taught him various techniques that lead to him becoming Batman. The story doesn’t go into much detail as to the training but it is an interesting concept that instead of learning all his skills from one man (as for instance in Batman Begins) Bruce Wayne went to the experts in each field that he needed for his training. This makes, in some ways, much more logical sense as this way Wayne wouldn’t be immediately suspected by his one and only mentor (as in Batman Begins).
The story also features some great artwork from Jim Aparo. Particularly in the first part, Aparo’s artwork is at the forefront. His detailed illustrations of Batman are wonderfully done and he brings real expression to all the character, particularly Commissioner Gordon during an early scene in which he thinks that the real Batman is dead. Aparo’s artwork is so good that it can often take the place of words, as it does in the first issue. There is a real power there and also great detail which makes the comic all the more enjoyable.
Overall, The Many Deaths of Batman is a good story which delivers many interesting concepts about who Batman is and what sort of people created him. Aided by great artwork from Jim Aparo, the story is an instant classic and one I would highly recommend.
In the next instalment of The Dark Tales of The Dark Knight we look at the origin of Black Mask!