In 2003 Mattel launched a line of 7″ scale figures featuring Batman and an assortment of villains and allies, all of varying degrees of quality and complexity. This line then began to be alternated with waves of Superman figures, before finally giving way to the DC Universe Classics line: Mattel’s answer to the competing Marvel Legends figures, and a series that would become legendary for inspiring customer frustration. It seems we’ve now come full circle, and Mattel’s once again has a collector-oriented line focused entirely on the residents of Gotham City, entitled “Batman Unlimited”. I was heavily invested in all the lines that led up to this one, buying almost every single figure for around six years, until I eventually had to sell the bulk of my collection. Even though I do still have a modest shelf of Batman toys, thus far the Unlimited line has not really piqued my interest. The figures are expensive, there are only around three released at a time (taking any and all fun out of sifting through the pegs at the store), and I generally just try to be a little more careful with my purchases these days. Today, however, “responsible” lost a critical battle with “fanboy”, and I walked out of Target with a brand new figure based on pre-crazy Frank Miller’s magnum Batman opus, The Dark Knight Returns.
Although I’m an avid comic book fan who is usually willing to give even the worst movie adaptations a shot, I typically avoid superhero novels like the plague. And really, I couldn’t even tell you why. I have an old paperback around here somewhere that’s an anthology of short stories about The Joker, but I’ve never even read it. The simple ownership of that book is the closest I’ve ever come to engaging my beloved comic characters in a picture-free format. Wait, I take that back. I also had a “choose your own adventure” style Batman book when I was a kid, and I most certainly did read that. Probably cheating my way through like I always did. But that, I assure you, is the last time I made the leap. Until, that is, a few weeks ago, on a trip to my favorite local library. There in the new releases section sat an attractive looking hardcover entitled Wayne of Gotham, a Batman novel written by Tracy Hickman.