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There has always been something architectural about Batman for me, from Wayne Manor to The Batcave to Gotham City itself. Writer Chip Kidd uncovers that connection perfectly in this original graphic novel, combining his own love of the character with his proven interest in design. The Batman we see here is an early one, and though the time period is left vague, it has a strong 1940s film noir feel, while including more modern touches. At the heart of the story is an abandoned and crumbling train station in the spirit of New York’s Grand Central, once the design jewel of the city, now slated for demolition despite a strong protest movement led by Cyndia Roomhaus, a young and beautiful socialite. Several architects are involved; the one who designed the old station, now long missing, his son trying to preserve his father’s legacy and honor, and a new architect hired by Bruce Wayne to design a cutting-edge station to replace the old one. At least one of those men is out to create havoc in Gotham City, and The Joker also turns up to add to the chaos. As the plot unfolds, Bruce/Batman finds many layers and connections in the lives of these men and woman, some tied to his own life in unexpected ways. And just in case you might think this is too cerebral a story, there are plenty of thrilling moments and a few massive explosions as well!
The art by Dave Taylor is remarkably good and fitting for the story. He uses a variety of techniques, but mostly with textured and shaded pencils that add lots of atmosphere. There are touches of color on many pages, but black, white and shades of gray dominate his pallette. The amount of work evident in every page and panel is impressive, and the design work by Dave is not only up to the requirements of the story, it blows right past them. This is remarkably fine work!