Young Bruce Wayne has a pre-Batman adventure.
Famed boy billionaire Bruce Wayne has just turned 18, officially inheriting his deceased parents’ vast fortune. But Bruce doesn’t have time to give his coming-of-age much thought: a gang calling itself the Nightwalkers is terrorizing the elite citizens of Gotham City, and Bruce is determined to shut them down. Bruce’s antics earn him a community-service sentence in Arkham Asylum, where he cross paths with Asian-American Madeleine Wallace, an accused murderer with ties to the Nightwalkers. Madeleine remains silent when the cops are around but speaks privately to Bruce. As the two grow closer Bruce works to shine a light on the mysterious gang and perhaps get a possibly innocent Madeleine released. Lu effectively mixes familiar Batman characters and locations with the new Nightwalkers and Madeleine, avoiding overstuffing the narrative with future villains and excessive Batman foreshadowing. The trickiest aspect of any Batman narrative is getting into Bruce Wayne’s head, and she doesn’t miss a beat. Bruce is headstrong, haunted but not overwhelmed, and capable of improvisation, but he isn’t yet the fully formed Caped Crusader. The building blocks are there, but the author doesn’t rush to assemble them too quickly. Bruce’s terrible, self-destructive taste in women travels from the comics to this novel, making his relationship with Madeleine suitably complex and a bit frustrating at the same time.
An engaging character piece with enough Batman allusions to intrigue fans and newcomers alike. (Fantasy. 12-16)