“Nothing scares Batman. Nothing at all, not even the dark.”
This picture book tells the story of a young Bruce Wayne learning to be afraid of the dark and then overcoming his fear. Be forewarned: the book does cover the death of Bruce’s parents, but it handles the traumatic event with eloquence and grace. The focus is not on the individual who committed the crime or even the crime itself, only on how it affected Bruce’s perspective of the dark. “First he heard loud noises, then a bang. There was a flash of light, and the smell of smoke. And when he came out of the dark, he was alone. His parents were gone!”
The basic plot is the traditional “origin” one- no new ground broken here. However, that should not be a deterrent for preschool and early elementary aged Batman fans. The concept of self-reliance and overcoming fear is one most kids can relate to. In particular, moving beyond the fear of the dark is often a timely discussion with that age group.
Without a doubt, the real draw is the illustrations by Jon J. Muth, perhaps most noted for his Zen Panda series. Rather than the usual blunt “comic book style” art, the images are soft with the edges often a bit blurred. These gentle illustrations keep the focus on “childhood fear” and facilitates in drawing in the reader.