Batman: Dark Allegiances
by Howard Chaykin (DC Comics, 1996)

The late, lamented Elseworlds series from DC Comics, which was launched in 1996 and languished in 2005, birthed some truly awful books.

It also spawned some classics. Dark Allegiances, a Batman tale, is one that I keep around to remind me just how good Elseworlds could be.

The concept, for those who missed it, is taking characters from the DC universe and reinventing them in a different time, place or circumstance. This one places the Batman in the 1930s. Bruce Wayne is a liberal-minded industrialist with a hobby of vigilante justice. Alfred, his trusty butler, is present as always. And other familiar characters appear in somewhat different guises: movie starlet Kitty Grimalkin, a.k.a. Selina Kyle, for instance, has a few nocturnal tendencies of her own. There are also variations on the Penguin, Two-Face and the Joker, the latter of whom is presented here as a politically minded racist and fascist.

This book is criminally brief, but it runs through its plot with a sense of its own fun ... even during a climactic scene involving none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt and a visiting Adolf Hitler.

Dark Allegiances won't change your life. But it's a fun tale and it belongs among the best of DC's Elseworlds line. Read it, and I bet you, like me, will keep it around to read again and again over the years.

review by
Tom Knapp

28 July 2012

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