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DOUG MOENCH & TONY WONG Ė BATMAN Ė HONG KONG. 2003. DC Comics

 

A very good modern graphic novel comic strip adventure for Batman set in an age of international travel and Internet commerce.In Batmanís Gotham, a young computer hacker accidentally taps into a snuff movie assassination in which a man is tied up and killed with a poisonous Cobra. The hacker tries to warn the police, who are sceptical, but alert Batman. He checks the story out, and finds that he killers have already found the hacker and gone after him, to kill him the same way. Batman locates the site of the impending murder and races across Gotham to give rescue. The story now plays on expectations of Batmanís inevitable success in this, and then has him fail. The hacker is killed. Batman runs out of leads. Weeks later however, similar killings occur in Hong Kong. Sensing a connection, Batman heads there. The police chief there make it clear that he wonít tolerate Batmanís vigilantism. Batman hassles the local Triad gangs for information. He finds a strangely honourable crime lord, who seems as eager to end the mystery as he is. Batmanís antics also inspire a young man takes inspiration to don a costume of his own and become The Night Dragon, effectively, the Chinese equivalent of Batman. The two men unite to take the battle to the killers. It soon becomes apparent that the Night Dragon is connected to the killers. His brother was a victim, and his father had apparently died in mysterious circumstances, which his Mother will not fully explain to him.The disruption to the crime scene caused by Batman and Night Dragon makes the crime scene work alongside the cops to bring the city under control again (reminiscent of events in Fritz Langís film M). When the killer strikes again, it is actually The Night Dragon, rather than Batman who saves the victim in the nick of time. The shocking truth is now revealed. The killer is Night Dragonís father, who had become horribly disfigured but survived the fire in which his wife, Night Dragonís Mother, had used to kill him. An intriguing story of honour among thieves and a complex whodunit atmosphere worthy of Agatha Christie. Batman is almost secondary to what may be a vehicle for creating a new masked hero. If there is a flaw it is how easily Night Dragon assembles his costume and skills to become the Batman Of The Orient. There is a pace and excitement tot his story, and Batmanís wide jagged cape seems to spread everywhere like something sentient and mysterious. One of the finest modern Batman tales available.

http://www.dccomics.com/

 

Arthur Chappell

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