Book Review: Batman – The Definitive History Of The Dark Knight – UPDATED EDITION *Gift Idea*

by Steve J Ray
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“Batman – The Definitive History Of The Dark Knight” – Updated Edition
Writers: Andrew Farago and Gina McIntyre
Cover by: John Guydo
Publisher: Insight Editions
Review by Steve J. Ray

Batman – The Definitive History Of The Dark Knight is arguably the greatest Batman reference book ever created, and my favorite encyclopedia of all time. I own a copy of the original version and love it with all my heart.

As you can imagine, whilst chatting online with co-author Andrew Farago, discovering that an all-new version with two extra chapters and 40 extra pages was available blew my tiny nerd mind!

Fans who also own the original may ask if the updated edition is worth having too… I have to say, absolutely yes. While forty pages may not sound like much, that’s ten percent more book for your buck. PLUS, what they contain is absolutely essential. People go out and buy a movie they already own for a few extra minutes, so believe me when I say that the new chapters have additional footage beat by a country mile.

Holy Brand-New Content, Batman!

This book delivers days, or even weeks, of entertainment. The two new chapters alone will keep you busy for hours. Now, tell me that’s not worth more than a couple of deleted scenes re-spliced into a film!

The new content covers Matt Reeves’ The Batman in-depth. We get interviews with the writer/director and the cast and crew, costume designs, behind-the-scenes photos, promo material, and stunning hi-res stills… but wait, there’s more.

Andrew Farago has praised Gina McIntyre’s new work online, but kept humbly silent about his own contribution, which – for a comics nerd – is every bit as valid and essential. Batman – The Definitive History Of The Dark Knight – The Updated Version, not only brings our hero’s on-screen adventures bang-up-to-date but also delivers a comics-based chapter that does the same. We get to see James Tynion’s run, John Ridley’s Next Batman, Batman/Catwoman, The Joker War, over 1000 issues of Detective Comics, and more.

This book is a genuine must-have item.

More Than A Book

Insight Editions produce some truly beautiful volumes, and this book ranks amongst the finest they’ve ever made, and the best I’ve ever read. Writers Andrew Farago and Gina McIntyre have crafted a lexicon of Bat-lore that can only be described as a labor of love. The painstaking research and study that’s gone into creating this tome are mind-boggling. This is the kind of book I’ve always longed to write or contribute to, so owning a copy brings me real joy.

Yes, this is a textbook, but written with so much love for the character that readers immediately know that the creators behind it are just as much Batman fans as we are.

Actually, calling this a textbook is far from complimentary, and also wildly inaccurate. In all honesty, I don’t know if an adequate description exists. It’s far more than a guide and so much better than an encyclopedia. It’s full of beautiful art, previously unseen photographs, scripts, character designs, archive material, storyboards and so much more.

Some of the very best bits, though, are the inserts. Oh, my…

Enough Stuff to Fill a Batcave

Batman – The Definitive History stands out from every other reference book out there for many reasons; it’s HUGE, it’s heavy, now has over 400 pages, and is far more than just a book. Looking at the photos I’ve attached to this review, readers will be able to tell that hidden within, and sometimes attached to the pages of this wonderful volume, priceless treasures are waiting to be discovered.

Sometimes they look like a picture in the middle of the page, like the beautiful facsimile of Batman’s first-ever appearance from the pages of 1939’s legendary Detective Comics #27. Then, you open the cover and find Batman’s debut tale reprinted in its entirety!

This happens several times throughout the book, and every discovery is a gem. Comics scripts, Batmobile blueprints, movie character designs, storyboards. This book has all of these… and more!

Batman’s Trophy Room

Some of the delights contained within this tome are completely mind-blowing. Back in 2019, Mark Hamill voiced the joker over animated storyboards for the infamous Robin scene, which was slated to be a part of Tim Burton’s 1989 cinema classic, Batman. Those very storyboards appear in this titanic tome!

Then there are the dozens of behind-the-scenes movie photos, newly published anecdotes, and previously unrevealed secrets. I thought I knew a lot about Batman, but this book could make even a brand-new fan an authority.

I also gained a new appreciation for some of the Bat-related projects of the past that perhaps didn’t hit the mark, commercially or critically; like the much-maligned film, Batman & Robin. The Poison Ivy character designs, and conversations with cast and crew shed new light on the movie, and its production. We forget that, even if we don’t like a film, TV show, or comic book, that piece of art is still somebody’s hard work. Whether the end result meets with our approval or not, respect must be given to the people whose blood, sweat, and tears went into making them.

Andrew, Gina, Insight Editions… thank you.

Batman, Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

Even when you reach the end of the book, Batman – The Definitive History is a gift that keeps on giving. Hidden right at the back of the volume, in the inside back cover, is a Bat-Logo festooned envelope. What’s hidden inside blew my Batman socks off!

What more could any Bat Fan ask for than a movie treatment written by Batman’s co-creator, Bob Kane?!? Inside this script is a faithful reproduction of Kane’s letter to Warner Bros. and Tim Burton. I’m a little sad to say that the new version doesn’t have the carefully crafted facsimile coffee stains as seen in the original release. Andrew Farago claims that each stain was individually applied to every single edition. Now, I don’t know whether that’s true or not… and I honestly don’t care, it sounds true and makes for one hell of an anecdote. While I miss this in the new book, it’s in no way a deal-breaker.

Conclusion

I love this heavyweight, oversized monster of a book. The people that Andrew Farago and Gina McIntyre have spoken to and the stories they’ve told make it must-read. The artwork is phenomenal, the design is stunning and the content incredible. Batman – The Definitive History Of The Dark Knight isn’t something you can easily carry around or read on a commute, what it is, though, is an unmissable collectible that no true Bat fan should be without.

If you need a last-minute Christmas gift, aren’t seeing the family ’til the New Year, or if you’re a Bat-Maniac after something extra special, then this is the book for you!

This review is dedicated to Denny O’Neil and Kevin Conroy, souls who helped make the Dark Knight the greatest fictional character of all time, and who will remain in our hearts forever. Along with Michael Keaton, Denny and Kevin provide intros to this book. These are more meaningful now, than ever before.

Detective Comics #1009

Huge thanks to Insight Editions for the review copy.


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