Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu is the second novel of the DC ICONS series following Wonder Woman: Warbringer which was released in the summer of 2017. The title is a little misleading, as it is not really a Batman story, but a story about a young Bruce Wayne in the early developmental stages as the man who will become Batman. Lu does an excellent job of weaving the Batman mythos into the story so that it feels familiar to the reader but is still an original story.
It begins on Bruce’s 18th birthday. He is at a benefit his mother started for the Gotham City Legal Protection Fund which also doubles as his birthday party. After an argument with a friend he leaves the party and gets caught up in a police chase and is arrested. He is sentenced to community service at Arkham Asylum where he meets an inmate named Madeline who has ties to a terrorist organization that has been preying on wealthy Gothamites called the Nightwalkers. After refusing to talk to the police, Madeline sees something in Bruce and decides she will talk only to him.
The book takes on a very Silence of the Lambs feel at this point, with Bruce in the Clarice Starling role and Madeline as Hannibal Lector. She tells him things and leaves him clues about the Nightwalkers, but she never gives a direct answer. Lu builds the suspense of each interaction masterfully and you really begin to care not only about Bruce solving the mystery but also about who this Madeline really is. She paces each interrogation by explaining exactly what Bruce is thinking while he is questioning Madeline, planting the seeds in the mind of the reader of the man who will go on to become the world’s greatest detective.
Lu did not forget to include familiar faces in her story. Alfred and Lucius Fox figure prominently in the plot as does a young Harvey Dent. We do meet a new face named Dianne, who is a classmate of Bruce’s and acts as his moral compass throughout the book. She along with Harvey ground the story in normalcy, since their biggest concerns are graduation, how they’re going to spend their “last summer together”, and college. We meet other new characters as well, but I won’t discuss them in this review so I don’t give too much away.
Batman: Nightwalker is a worthy addition to the Batman library. It stays respectful to the character and gives a fresh take on his story. It his technically a young adult book so it’s a fairly easy read and once you get caught up in it you won’t want to put it down. – Eric Holzmann