Would you like to be a superhero, but you’re not from another planet, and you’ve never been befriended by a wizard or received a power ring from an alien? You haven’t inherited a gene that gives you amazing powers, and you know that exposure to radiation will most likely give you cancer? Perhaps The Batman Handbook can help you.
Title: The Batman Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual
Original Publication Date: 2005.
Following on the success of Batman Begins and designed to resemble the The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook and its sequels and knock-offs, this manual explains how to become Batman.
Survival Tip #1: Stay out of places with names like “Crime Alley” (7)
1. The four-paragraph warning which discounts any liability for damages incurred by anyone actually attempting any of the stunts in this book.
2. Seriously, just looking at this book holds a certain pleasure. You know that many volumes and years of training would be required to do just a few of the more plausible things Batman manages, but how can the part of you that is still ten years old1 not want to peruse a book with chapter headings like:
-How to Make a Batsuit
-How to Bulletproof Your Batmobile
-How to Jump a Bridge in Your Batmobile
-How to See in the Dark
-How to Take a Kick in the Head
-How to Take Out a Roomful of Goons
-How to Withstand Poison Kisses
-How to Blend into the Shadows and Slip Away2
1. If you find yourself holding The Batman Handbook, part of you is still ten years old.
2. An especially amusing chapter.
The book resembles less Batman than it does the bat from Aesop’s fable, who claimed to be neither bird nor beast and thus was rejected by both groups. The Batman Handbook presents itself as a manual for how one might attempt to imitate the Dark Knight. At the same time, the author calls it “a well-produced work of fiction” and thereby tries to preclude criticism of any content that might be dangerous or inaccurate. The historic origins of Judo are not so obscure that the book should contain glaring errors about that subject; it does. And I pity the person who attempts to follow the book’s advice for swinging around a flagpole as a way of breaking a fall from a building.
The Batman Handbook should either have tried to find accurate advice on a more limited range of subjects—-been the bat-themed worst-case scenario book it pretends to be– OR been a more creative, entertaining work of fiction. In its present form, it’s not accurate enough to be very informative and not witty enough to be consistently entertaining.
It also occasionally remembers that little kids who’ve watched Batman will likely read this book. I applaud the fact that it encourages kids to become educated and physically fit, but these portions recall a little too much the cheeseball sixties show.
I suppose the book would work best for those writing stories or movie scripts about Batman or a similar character, because it considers a number of points that a writer might find useful. It addresses, for example, the problems one would face if one wanted a functional underground lair– including the issue of bat guano.
The nature of this book— a work of non-fiction pretending to be factual— ill-suits it for our scoring system.