Occasionally we at GamingShogun.com read more than just game manuals (who am I kidding? We NEVER read game manuals!) and on those occasions it usually has to do with something video game related. In this case it was actually based off of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Universe but it is at least a manual! The Dark Knight Manual: Tools, Weapons, Vehicles & Documents From The Batcave is comprehensive collection of information for those who will never be satisfied for what they glimpsed on the big screen.
The manual is written under the premise that after the destruction of Wayne Manor Bruce Wayne started collecting all files, documents, sketches, and pretty much everything that is needed to become Batman and entrusted the collection to Alfred. The manual opens to the case file of his parents murder and by saying it opens to the case file it literally opens to a case file, made of old cardboard filing sleeve which opens and shows crime scene reports as well as glued together photos from the crime scene. The cover of the file has the name of every officer who checked it out, the date and its return date and pages you can flip through. This sets the mood for the whole book which it follows through with, this truly feels like it was taken straight out of that world, that these are the actual documents, schematics and details that made Batman who he is. Many parts are written on post-it notes or scraps of paper while other parts are in architectural document sleeves that contain blue prints on how to theoretically create the devices. There are newspaper clippings that don’t just have a headline with scribbles for a story but actually have a fully written story taken right out of a scene either from the movie or would have happened between the scenes.
I’m sure the Dark Knight Notebook wouldn’t have carried the same weight and technically it is a manual on creating Batman from the Batarang to his mental state and fighting style, but it feels like a notebook in the sense that it is composed of scraps of information compiled together, sometimes literally on a scrap of paper that as the owner of the book you could take out and stick on your wall. It kind of reminds me of what someone obsessed with a subject might make, there is a degree of obsession that comes through in the book, as if Bruce Wayne knew that someday something might happen and someone else might need to take up the mantle and this is everything needed. It also has the feel that originally all this might have been tacked to a wall as it was organized and re-organized to eventually fit into categories. This isn’t a sterile bunch of facts, there is emotion in here, personalities come through and it truly feels like an extension of the movies.
Any big fan of the Batman franchise will love the breakdown of his toys, the blueprints, concepts sketches and photographic details of their completion. The Batsuit is displayed in transparent increasing layers starting with Bruce Wayne without the suit at the bottom and building up, piece by transparent papered piece until you see him in the full suit. It even has details of the presuit, which “was an Applied Sciences creation: strong and stiff and originally designed for advanced infantry use.” There is a post-it attached to this that says “Master Wayne, I’ve replaced the base layer, if you’ll kindly be more careful putting it on the next time? Even with your bank account, $300,000 per suit warrants some caution. -A” This is the beauty of the book, it really brings across the details of the objects but also the character of those who populate Batman’s life because in the end the whole book revolves around making Batman.
I have only one point of slight disappointment and it is fairly slight. Most of the items that can be pulled out of the book have small print on it somewhere noting that it is trademarked and copyrighted by DC Comics. In an otherwise very well detailed immersion which uses so many aspects to sell the feel that this came right out of that universe, DC Comics has to put it’s stamp on things completely reminding you that this is a fictitious universe based on a comic book. I understand since there items could literally be pulled out of the book that you might want to note intellectual property but since technically any page could be taken out of a book it seemed unfair to all the work done to make this seem so real to have the “DC Comics” splashed all through it.
I had high hopes for this book when it arrived but it was even better than I had expected. There was a lot of love and detail put into this, it was truly made to feel right out of the Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight universe. I was like a kid pointing out the details in the book that made it seem so authentic, like it was stolen right off of Alfred’s desk. The little DC Comics trademark everywhere took away from it but not enough to spoil it, not enough to ruin all the detail and touches that were put into this amazing book. If you are a Batman fan, a fan of the movies or just a book reader who wants to read a story told in such a unique way this is the book for you.