Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman

Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman
Published by It Books ISBN 978-0-06-207420-1
Hardcover $26.99, 296 pages


I can vividly remember as a kid watching the TV show Batman and loving it. (As a young child, I didn't get the campiness of it, I just knew I liked it- and I wanted to be Batgirl.) I was thrilled when my older son became a Batman fan, although he probably had no choice when as a young baby we took him to the drive-in to see the first Batman movie with Michael Keaton.

I'm not a graphic novel person or a comic book fan, but when the chance to read the new novel, Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman, arose, I took it. First of all, the cover art is spectacular, with Batman overlooking Gotham City on the front cover and Bruce Wayne in the Wayne Manor library on the back, both on a deep forest green background.

The novel tells two alternating stories- present day with Batman trying to save Gotham City from the evil residents of the Arkham Asylum, which leads Bruce to look into the circumstances behind his parents' murder and 1958, when his parents began their romance and his father, Dr. Thomas Wayne, became involved in an experiment at Arkham Asylum.

There is enough action with Batman and all of his toys- the Batmobile, items in the Batcave and on his utility belt- to keep the fanboys and fangirls happy, but the storyline set in 1958 with Thomas and Wayne really appealed to me. We have seen and heard things about the Waynes, but Hickman really delves into their story, and does a terrific job bringing them to life. I mean, Martha Kane Wayne is a wild party girl? Who would have thought it.

We also see a much deeper relationship between Bruce and his faithful aide Alfred Pennyworth, one that is sorely tested in this story. The story in 1958 introduces us to Alfred's mysterious father Jarvis, who became a loyal servant to the Waynes, and passed his loyalty down to his son Alfred.

There is a lot of story here, Hickman has a lot of balls in the air, and he expertly juggles them to keep the story moving and the reader wanting to turn the pages. He further humanizes Batman, a hero who is not superhuman but only a man. This is a book not only for Batman fans but for anyone looking for a good action/mystery story with intriguing characters.

rating 4 of 5

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