Batman: Private Casebook

Batman - Private CasebookSummary: Collecting DETECTIVE COMICS #840-845, plus a story from the INFINITE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL, this hard-hitting new BATMAN volume pits The Dark Knight and guest-star Zatanna against the new Ventriloquist and still-the-same Scarface, as well as Talia al Ghul, The Riddler and more.
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Batman: Private Casebook, by Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs 7.5

‘Batman: Private Casebook’ is a collection of single issues of Batman comics – each featuring isolated stories and different villains. Frankly, the only reason I picked it up is because it came up while I was searching for Peter Milligan’s works at the local library. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been on my radar at all.

Before anyone says anything, it’s not that I’m not a Batman fan, it’s just that there are so many Batman comics that finding decent ones is like a crap shoot.

Thankfully, Paul Dini, who wrote 5 of the 6 tales in this volume, managed to put together decent enough stories. It wasn’t in any way especially clever or riveting, but at least it was well thought-out and devoid of cheese.

Honestly, though, I would have preferred for each tale to be developed over three issues instead of just one – much like half hour TV episodes would often be best served if developed as feature films. As far as I’m concerned, development is everything.

But I guess that Dini had to work within the confines of the medium and -let’s-face-it- it’s easier to sell a single issue than to reel people in for a whole story arc – only those who started at the beginning can enjoy the subsequent issues, in those cases. And from that perspective, he did a decent enough job.

My favourite by far, however, is Milligan’s story: ‘The Suit of Sorrows’. It’s the third one in and, without even checking the credits I could feel the difference in tone. It was darker, slightly more cerebral than Dini’s work. It was hardly perfect, however: somehow Milligan kept it loose and suspension of disbelief was essential to the enjoyment of the piece.

Still, the set is a competent and entertaining read. It’s also backed by some detailed and stylish (if sometimes imperfect) artwork courtesy of Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridofs, which makes it easy on the eyes. It’s nothing outstanding, or particularly memorable, but fans of superhero comics and of Batman will likely be pleased with the book.

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