DC Batman – the world of the dark knight is the title of a new compendium recently revised and published by DK Verlag. How did Bruce Wayne become Batman? Who are the bats' worst adversaries? And: Why was the Joker rewarded for his honesty? Exciting questions surround the dark knight, who is not a superhero in the classic sense. The Batman Compendium answers many of these questions, including over 800 original comic illustrations.  

Thanks to the new feature film The Batman, not only Robert Pattinson is back in the spotlight, but also the bat itself. Even the creator Bob Kane probably could not have imagined that a cartoon character invented in 1939 would one day be so famous. In May of that year, the Dark Knight first appeared in an issue of the US comic magazine "Detective Comics" - today the DC and Batman is the publisher's most popular character. The publisher Dorling Kindersley (DK Verlag) celebrates the bat with the compendium "DC Batman - The World of the Dark Knight". 

Everything for fans on over 200 pages

Batman has become an integral part of pop culture: Countless films, series, books, comics and games tell the or individual stories from Gotham City, the mega-metropolis over which Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne hold their armored hands protectively. Anecdote: "Batman" was not a bat at first - Bob Kane had imagined the hero as a colorful bird with an eye tag. That wasn't really successful. Only the cooperation with the author Bill Finger made things complete. Finger was not mentioned for a long time.

More anecdote: Batman alter ego Bruce Wayne's name is no coincidence, but comes from the names of two heroes: Scottish freedom fighter Robert the Bruce and US national hero Mad Anthony Wayne.

Details of this level can be found in the German-language anthology on the bat, which goes back to a cooperation between the publishers DC and DK. It's worth taking a look at the 216-page hardcover book - especially for fans. Behind the idea is the author Matthew K. Manning, a recognized comics expert and involved in more than 90 books and dozens of comic books. He has also worked for DC and Marvel, but more relevant to the compendium is the expertise Manning has gained from authoring books on comics. The amount of information about Batman, his friends and his enemies has been researched in a correspondingly well-founded manner. 

Review Batman Compendium
Not only Batman is the focus, but also his adversaries. Photo: Volkman

The book contains obvious information and what to expect - what does Batman's armor look like and why does it look like that or: What happened to Bruce Wayne's parents? But that shouldn't have been it. At least as many surprises can be found on the more than 200 pages of the book, which are filled to the brim with original comic drawings. It's about the legendary Arkham Asylum, about Batman and his son - and also about "Ace", the Bat-Dog. Some are amazing, some are funny. In any case, browsing through the compendium is great fun. Page after page there is something new to discover, divided from the golden era of the 1930s and 1940s to today's modern era. 

The transformation that Bruce Wayne and the bat, but also his companions and adversaries have undergone over the decades is surprising. The grey-blue bat, which was drawn in little detail, has become a black-armored muscleman. However, one thing has stood for the dark avenger from the very beginning and still stands today: the countless – more or less helpful – gadgets that Batman has to fall back on in the absence of real superpowers. There is also a lot about this in "DC Batman - The World of the Dark Knight". Bat grenades, explosive pellets, various batarangs - there are info bits and drawings for all the crazy tools. The Batmobile and its further developments also find a place.

book review batman compendium
There is a lot of information - from the bat suit to the weapons of the bat. Photo: Volkman

It gets particularly exciting when Batman's Metaverse adventures are addressed. They weren't just weird, they were sometimes difficult to understand. The compendium also does educational work when it comes to classifying the stories of the bat and characters such as Reverse Flash, Batman from Zur-en-Arrh or White Lantern in the DC worlds. 

There are quite a few ideas that make you smile, given the weirdness that you would hardly believe the bat and her conservative alter ego as average fans. Ultimately, the many changes and modifications of the cartoon character are probably a key factor in its success. Things haven't gotten boring with Batman over the decades. The bat, as an ambivalent character, was rarely sympathetic. Driven by his tasks and equipped with sometimes questionable morals, the bat never had the clean man image of a Superman. Batman is a hero with rough edges - the compendium impressively shows on its 200 pages why you have to like "The Batman" in the end despite all its flaws. 

Batman Compendium Book Review
Browsing is a journey into the past. Photo: Volkman

In particular, the background of the character and the motives for his actions arouse interest. The book "Batman - The World of the Dark Knight" by DK Verlag serves this curiosity. The socio-critical undertones of the respective comic decades are also noticeable again and again: death and resurrection, poverty, feminism - many socially relevant topics can be found in Batman's adventures. If you list the individual stories loosely, you will have simply ignored a lot of the social criticism in the end. The compendium shows where to look more closely.   


Scope: 216 pages
Publisher: DK Verlag / Penguin Random House
Translation: Joachim Körber, Christian Heiss (edition 2012)
Release year: 2022 / 2012 
Language: German
Cost: 22 Euro


Batman is an asshole - sometimes anyway. And if you have leafed through the 216 pages of the newly published compendium, which by the way bears the aptly original English title "Batman - The Ultimate Guide New Edition", you can even justify your opinion. In the end, little is left of the lovable bat, which is good. Hardly any comic hero is so combative, has so many faces despite a mask, is so complex and therefore interesting. The Batman Compendium undresses the character, exposes the hero - but at the same time always shows why Bruce Wayne and Batman are in the end undeniably among the good guys.

There is nothing to complain about in terms of quality, given the scope and the editorial preparation "to the point" including successful page designs, one could almost think that the compendium, which costs 22 euros, is selling below its value. Presentation and content are of a high standard, the information has added value even for long-time fans of the bat. Rarely has it been so interesting to leaf through a compilation page by page. And it is not uncommon for one to catch oneself reading with the thought that one or the other old comic story seems familiar. “DC Batman – The World of the Dark Knight” from DK Verlag offers a bit of a journey through time into being a fan.


Last updated on 4.02.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API