Whenever a new superhero film is released, you can be sure that a plethora of merchandise will precede it. These range from the typical selection of toys to clothes to books and even the miscellaneous things like breakfast cereals (I’m looking at you, Spidey). However, it isn’t always that these tie-in products add anything to their source and are truthfully just cash-ins. But to tie-in with The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight Manual was released and it actually turned out to be a refreshing and much welcome break from tradition.
Reviewed by Lyle Arends
To call this a novel of any sorts would be grossly overstating it. The book is really more of a war journal written from Batman’s perspective and it collects everything from sketches and blueprints of his various gadgets to the batsuit’s designs and even details of the vehicles in his arsenal. Before picking this up, though, it’s important to note that this isn’t a book about Batman. This is a book about Christopher Nolan’s Batman. It’s composed of information from the Dark Knight trilogy and nothing outside of that. So if you’re sitting there twirling you mustache expecting some tidbits from the animated series or a cameo from the infamous batnipples, you will be left feeling quite disappointed. From Bruce’s training with Liam Ne – I mean Ra’s al Ghul in the League of Shadows, to the acts of Harvey Dent and the Joker to the new threat which is Bane, the book expands on an already interesting universe and adds some much-needed insight into the various characters inhabiting it.
The great thing about this book is the format and layout. As I mentioned above, this is really just a war journal so the pages consist of police reports and files, clippings, blueprints, (handwritten) post-it notes, photos, psyche profiles and again, blueprints, sketches and designs. Apart from that, included are decals and stickers for you to remove and batmanize whatever you feel fit. Personally, the Pièce de résistance of the entire book is the little hidden pouch which contains 8 of the Joker’s playing cards from the second film.
To be honest, there’s nothing bad about this book. Aside from mostly scans instead of real photos being used and the positioning of the decals, it’s basically perfect. And even though not much information is given from the third film (you get a feeling that the book should have been released after the film’s release so that section could be meatier), what is provided is more than sufficient. All in all, this is a must have book for the batcoffeetables of the fans.