The Dark Knight Manual: Tools, Weapons, Vehicles & Documents from the Batcave
By Brandon T. Snider
Encompassing the entire trilogy, it starts from the beginning, featuring an in book insert of the Wayne family police file, which outlines the murder of Thomas and Martha, the weapons used, the official police report and crime scene photography. Its partial authenticity appropriately ramps up expectations for the rest of the coffee table book, featuring sticky notes, hidden photographs and various paper textures much like an actual file.
This tactile experience is consistent throughout, with handwritten notes having a different feel than the actual written reports outlining Bruce Wayne's training and creation of the Batcave. Business cards, extractable floor plans and various measurements are included as sidebars amidst the on-set photography and informational writing, which reads much like a text book, removed almost entirely from any sort of feeling or excitement.
It's an appropriate style for Snider to use, since the overall structure of the book is that of a manual, presenting the various findings from within the Batcave that deconstruct the many unknowns about his costumes and weaponry. Breakdowns, measurements and functional descriptions of everything within the Batman universe, giving each page and each new topic of exploration a dose of intrigue for anyone curious about the rationale between dividing a neck plate from the face guard on the bat suit. There's even a bit of discussion about the rationale for developing the bat symbols and necessary building of an intimidating image.
Some of the more intricate and amusing inclusions are various Joker cards for the notorious villain, as well as an elaborate map of Gotham City and a psychological breakdown from Jonathan Crane of one of his patients. These little details provide added value and lasting appeal to what is ostensibly just a bunch of fanboy speculation and far-fetched analysis.
Still, going through the photography and considering just how much thought went into each and every aspect of the Batman universe while constructing this rather elaborate collectable is quite engaging on its own. (Insight Editions)
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