Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty
Mike W. Barr, writer,
various artists
(DC Comics, 1997)

Sometimes, they just try too hard to make an Elseworlds story work.

This one wants us to believe that the first Batman was Joshua Wainwright, an idealistic crusader of the Knights Templar, who crossed paths with the immortal Vandal Savage back in 1222. The modern Batman is a happy-go-lucky guy who becomes Batman after his parents are killed by Savage on his wedding day -- and Bruce Wayne draws his inspiration for the costume from a painting of his sainted ancestor, Joshua. And then there's Brenna Wayne, the Batwoman of 2500, who has discovered that all of her ancestors have died young and violently -- while wearing "some kind of weird 'bat-costume.'" (Apparently, there were a lot more besides Joshua and Bruce who simply didn't fit in this book.) Oh, and Brenna's Robin (no other Robins are mentioned in the book, by the way) is a talking monkey.

And apparently Vandal Savage keeps running afoul of Waynes for his entire endless life -- and he keeps killing them after they've sired a successor. He never catches on to the idea of killing them young and ending those troublesome bats once and for all.

Bat-fanatics will want this in their collection, but there are far too many good Elseworlds books on the market to waste too much time on this one. There is, however, a nice contrast of artwork, beginning with Scott Hampton's darkly painted pages in the past, Gary Frank and Cam Smith's clean lines in the present, and Scott McDaniel and Bill Sienkiewicz's rough-edged take on the future.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 14 July 2001

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