Check It Out: Books highlight tales of Dark Knight

Celebrating the Life of Gotham's Caped CrusaderBy Allen KesingerSince his creation by Bob Kane, Batman has since become a cultural icon. From comics and television to movies and video games, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't know about the Dark Knight. Batman was different from other comic book heroes, who have been endowed with god-like powers at their disposal, in that he's just a man driven by his pursuit of justice. This week's Check It Out, which highlights some of the classic Batman graphic novels and films available at the Newport Beach Public Library, celebrates Bob Kane's legacy.

"The Long Halloween" by Tim Sale and Jeff Loeb: Part of the Sale/Loeb Batman trilogy, "The Long Halloween" tells the story of Batman's toughest investigation as high-ranking members of Gotham City's organized crime ring are being murdered by a serial killer who strikes on holidays. Leading the case is Dist. Atty. Harvey Dent, whose intensity and dedication will strain his marriage and test friendships. Ultimately, Dent will discover that not even he is immune from Gotham's cancer of crime.

"Batman: The Killing Joke": Comic writer extraordinaire Alan Moore ("Watchmen") pens this popular Batman story. In order to prove that anyone can go mad from a really bad day, the Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and forces him to endure psychological traumas. This comic is notable for several reasons. Moore presents an original story that paints the Joker as a near-tragic figure (but is it real or just another one of the madman's tricks?) and impacts Barbara Gordon, secretly known as Batgirl.

"The Dark Knight": After a series of poor quality Batman films by Joel Schumacher, Christopher Nolan took over and rebooted the Batman franchise, focusing on a young Bruce Wayne living in a realistic world. As a sequel, "The Dark Knight" topped "Batman Begins" in every conceivable way. Heath Ledger portrays Batman's longtime nemesis the Joker, bringing a dark and incredible intensity to the role (it would also be his final film). Aaron Eckhart's fantastic performance as Harvey Dent/Two Face will erase from memory Tommy Lee Jones' version of the character in "Batman Forever."

"Batman: The Movie": Before Christian Bale, before George Clooney, before Michael Keaton, there was Adam West. For 120 episodes, Adam West wore the cowl as he and his partner Robin (played by Burt Ward) defended Gotham City in his custom 1955 Lincoln Futura. In this feature-length film, Batman's entire rogue's gallery band together in a plot to take down the United Nations. Bursting at the seams with camp, "Batman: The Movie" is a fun film that can appeal to fans of any age.

"Gotham City Sirens" by Paul Dini and Guillem March: You can't talk about Batman without mentioning Paul Dini who has held a special place in the hearts of Batman fans for his work on the critically acclaimed television series "Batman: The Animated Series." "Gotham City Sirens" presents a world where Bruce Wayne is missing and presumed dead. As Dick Grayson (formerly Robin) prepares to step in as the Dark Knight, three of Gotham City's loveliest villains, Poison Ivy, Catwoman and Harley Quinn (Dini's popular creation from the cartoon series) team up to take on young upstarts who seek control of the criminal underworld.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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