Book Review: Batman the Multiverse of the Dark Knight – An Illustrated Guide

Batman: the Multiverse of the Dark Knight – An Illustrated Guide
Writer: Matthew K. Manning
Artist: Flaviu Pop
Published by Insight Editions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
Review by Steve J. Ray

Do you know your Kingdom Come from your Knightfall? The difference between Azrael and the Rookie? Are you intrigued by Speeding Bullets and Darkest Knights? If so, Batman: the Multiverse of the Dark Knight – An Illustrated Guide is the book for you!

2024 will mark Batman’s 85th year of publication and, as you can imagine, his adventures have taken many twists and turns over the decades. We’ve seen the grim avenger of the 40s, the light-hearted adventurer of the 50s and 60s, a return to the shadows in the 70s, and the eternal Dark Knight we all know and love from the 80s onwards. We’ve also seen many costumes and different faces beneath the cowl.

This wonderful new book, written by the brilliant Matthew K. Manning, with art by hot new talent, Flaviu Pop, is an absolute must-have for Batman fans.

The DC Multiverse/Omniverse still baffles many readers, but this wonderful reference guide clears the mysteries in a fun, easy-to-read, and highly entertaining manner. True to form, Matt Manning doesn’t just spout out facts and issue numbers, instead, he uses the book to tell a story through Barbara Gordon and her Oracle files. Having one of Batman’s closest confidants listing her thoughts, feelings, and observations about the many different Batmen of the DC Multiverse gives readers a much more interesting book than yet another “Encyclopedia Batmanica”.

From the possible future of Batman Beyond to the crazy alternate history of Jurassic League, a multitude of whacky, awesome, and terrifying versions of Batman are covered in this wonderful volume. Having each one analyzed by a fan-favorite comic character, who knows her Red Rain from her Green Lanterns, makes for a much richer reading experience.

I have a Batman collection that goes back to the 1940s, and a complete collection going back to 1985, yet even I was impressed by the insight (pardon the pun), thought, and creativity put into the book. Matt Manning’s own knowledge, beautifully expressed through Barbara Gordon, is impressive, and his thoughts about the alternate Dark Knights are very similar to my own.

Often when reference books like these are released they re-publish snippets of pages and panels from the original comics. In some instances that works fine, but I’ve seen books where the art has been badly cropped, distorted, or taken from low-quality original sources. In this respect, Batman the Multiverse of the Dark Knight – An Illustrated Guide truly stands out from the crowd. This book features brand-new art by the hugely talented rising star, Flaviu Pop.

Flaviu has been drawing comics professionally for three years but has clearly loved them his entire life. Anyone not knowing that all the art in this book is brand new could easily believe that what we get are panels, pages, or sketches from the original releases. Flaviu manages to capture the essence and spirit of the source comics but adds his own fresh, unique style too. The book looks fantastic.

If you want to see more of his work, check out The Cardinal, published by Alpha Comics, or his Instagram page.

Conclusion

Batman: the Multiverse of the Dark Knight – An Illustrated Guide is not your everyday reference guide. This is a book that will wow new fans, intrigue readers who may have left the fold, and even impress dyed-in-the-wool ultra-nerds. I have many of Matthew’s other books, and his Batman: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures mini-series (illustrated by Jon Sommariva) remains a firm favorite.

His writing, beautifully illustrated by a hot new artist, makes this volume one that needs to be on the shelves and coffee tables of Batman fans throughout every corner of the multiverse.

Highly recommended.

Review Copy and Images Courtesy of Insight editions and Simon & Schuster.

Batman: the Multiverse of the Dark Knight – An Illustrated Guide:
Format: Hardbound
Publication Date: 10/31/2023
ISBN: 9798886630923
Pages: 128


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