Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2) by Marie Lu
Superhero fantasy, re-telling
Hardcover, 272 pages
My synopsis: In this contemporary re-imagining of Batman’s pre-Batman days, Bruce Wayne is nearly 18 and about to inherit his deceased parents’ fortune. After an attempt to help the police catch the Nightwalkers, a gang targeting elite citizens of Gotham City, he is forced to complete community service at Arkham Aslyum. There he meets the mysterious Madeleine who is accused of working for the Nightwalkers and murdering 3 people. She surprisingly opens up to him and despite his fascination with her, he is also terrified of her–especially when she tells him that he’s next on the Nightwalkers’ list.
I’d like to preface this review by stating that while I think Batman is super cool, I am in no way an expert. I don’t know the whole deal surrounding his origin story, except that his parents died and he is probably the most morally gray of the superheroes we’ve come to know and love. I’m aware he has dangerous taste in women and I totally ship him with Catwoman. Also…
So, going into this adaptation, I wasn’t looking for differences or inaccuracies. I was merely hoping for an enjoyable and interesting story.
That being said…I really liked this. To be honest, though, Marie Lu can never seem to do wrong in my eyes. I’ve been impressed with pretty much all of her books and I will also mention that because I feel like I know so much about her and who she is (I completed an author assignment on her for one of my graduate courses), I tend to go into her work expecting good things.
Potential readers should be aware that Marie Lu’s Batman is actually pre-Batman and he is not the broody and dark hero most of us are familiar with. Also noteworthy, he does not officially become Batman by the end of this one. I don’t think this book will satisfy all Batman lovers, but if you’re looking for a different and younger take on the beloved caped crusader, I would still encourage you to give it a chance.
Here, Bruce Wayne is about to graduate high-school. Overall, he is a good kid whose greatest challenge is being unfairly criticized for his wealth. He doesn’t try to use his affluence to his advantage and struggles with the fact that people often assume that he does. He is a headstrong, heroic character whose internal confusion centers on the social injustice of society and trying to do good, knowing his white privilege will set him back (and totally understanding why that is the case).
Rather than a morally gray hero, we get a morally gray villain in the form of Madeleine Wallace, a teen girl accused of murder and whom Bruce encounters at Arkham Asylum where he has to complete a term of community service for interfering in the police’s pursuit of the Nightwalkers. Marie Lu is always trying to get me to empathize with characters I dislike and it drives me nuts–but in what is probably a humanly decent way. Her villainous characters often remind us that even good people make bad choices.
Bruce’s best friend, Dianne, is Filipina which I thought was just great (I’m Filipina myself)! If you didn’t know, Lu’s husband is Filipino and I always appreciate a diverse author who integrates not only themselves, but other parts or people of their lives into their stories.
Again, Lu’s Bruce is dedicated to social equity and, over the course of the story, learns to empathize more with those who are unlike him (lower class and/or non-white). If you follow Lu on her social media, you might know that Lu is a strong advocate for equal rights and activism–I especially love that she weaved that part of who she is into her modern day re-telling of Bruce Wayne’s beginnings as an icon of justice.
Verdict: I’m just a sucker for anything written by Marie Lu, so if you’re similar to me and don’t know everything there is to know about Batman, you may enjoy this as well. Regardless of young Bruce’s demeanor and how different he may seem from the Bruce you know, this story is still filled with plenty of action and intrigue.
P.S. I miss updating my blog and visiting your blogs so much! I’m in the home stretch for this semester–about a week and a half left til summer vacation 🙂 . I hope you’re all doing well.