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Book Review

Book Cover

The Dark Knight
Movie Novelisation


Author: Dennis O'Neil
Titan Books
RRP: £6.99, US $7.99
ISBN: 978 1 84856 042 0
Available 21 July 2008

Time has marched on for Bruce Wayne and Batman; Gotham City finally appears to have its own white knight in the form of new district attorney Harvey Dent. The forces of darkness are not so easily defeated and Gotham’s two new knights have to contend with old foes like the Mob and The Scarecrow and the new boy on the block The Joker...


The Dark Knight novelisation by Dennis O’Neil is based on the screenplay by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan, from the original story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Dennis - also known as Denny - has been involved with genre books and comics for a very long time and is a justifiably respected novelist and award winning comic book writer having also covered the previous book adaptation of Batman Begins.

Strangely enough I have been too busy to catch up with the film, so the review is likely to contain a lot of spoilers... or not. Without having seen the film it is difficult to know what parts of the plot have been created from O’Neil’s imagination and which form the basis of the movie.

Although the book is a nice easy read, O’Neil has a relaxed, very readable, style of prose with a decent enough plot, the book itself feels unbalanced. Much of the first half of the book is given over to recounting Wayne’s past exploits, filling in some more of his back-story, we even get a fairly pointless tale about how a young Bruce defied Alfred, went skiing in the dark and broke a leg. I presume that this was included to show Bruce and Alfred’s growing relationship.

We also get fairly lengthy, detailed back-stories for most of the characters including the Chechen and The Scarecrow, even though his back-story appears to be lengthier than his involvement in the plot. Not all of them appear to be pleasant, but pointless. Harvey Dent's history mirrors much of Bruce’s and O’Neil uses this juxtaposition to show that Bruce really did have a choice about becoming Batman.

With the first half of the book given over to character development and background material, the second half feels much more rushed. The effect of this is to give you the impression that The Joker does not appear a great deal. This creates a strange transition from the fairly dense first part of the book to a fast paced, but thin, second half.

The book is generally written well and O’Neil certainly is able to get under Wayne’s skin to examine the morally conflicting nature of a man who dresses as a bat and uses violence for what he sees as the greater good.

The book is well worth a look if you’re a Batman fan.


Charles Packer

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