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DC Comics' exceptionally successful Young Adult division, DC INK, has been launching stellar original graphic novels showcasing the early exploits of some of its most celebrated superheroes and villains all year long, including titles like Mera: Tidebreaker, Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale, Teen Titans: Raven, and Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass.
Now their fifth all-ages offering, Batman: Nightwalker, is poised to hit bookstores and comic shops on Oct. 1 and chronicles a teenage Bruce Wayne as a burgeoning crusader who crosses paths with hell-raising hoodlums and ends up doing time inside the gates of Gotham's notorious mental institution.
This latest graphic novel is penned by New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu, based on her prose novel of the same name, and slingshots readers to the depressing halls of Arkham Asylum, the legendary mansion where Gotham City's darkest mysteries lurk. Moody interior artwork comes courtesy of Chris Wildgoose, with the original 2018 novel smartly adapted by Stuart Moore.
Its 208-page coming-of-age plotline revolves around a new band of criminals called the Nightwalkers, whose goal is to target and take out the ultra rich. Our story finds Billionaire Bruce driving home from his extravagant eighteenth birthday party one evening and encountering illegal activity.
When the budding crusader thwarts a criminal's getaway, ignoring the police and smashing his car during the dangerous chase, he's sentenced to community service inside Arkham. Here he brushes up against the corrupt city's menagerie of mentally disturbed criminals. Among these inmates is the mysterious killer Madeleine Wallace, an enigma who has uncertain links to the Nightwalker gang terrorizing Gotham City. Bruce must unravel her secrets to halt the Nightwalkers' assault on the elite before he himself becomes their next victim.
“Batman was the first superhero I knew, so it feels wonderfully surreal to have the honor of not only writing a Batman story, but to see that story brought to beautiful life in graphic novel form by people as talented as Stuart and Chris," Lu tells SYFY WIRE. "I’m so excited Batman: Nightwalker is out now!”
The smooth synthesis of words and art combine here to give a satisfying glimpse into the harsh forces which helped forge a young Bruce Wayne into the grim vigilante he'd eventually transform into, all illustrated in stark greytones accented with electrifying flashes of gold.
Wildgoose knew the book was to be mostly black and white, and realized his stylistic vision for the art needed him to get much braver with his shadows so that's one thing he changed up consciously.
"Character-wise, I was excited to play with an emotionally flexible Bruce," the artist explains to SYFY WIRE. "He's very expressive, which is something we don't get from an older Batman. The lightness of his younger self and my clean linework for characters, set against the dark and grittiness of Gotham, is hopefully an interesting visual mix.
"Marie and Stuart were both really, really great to work with," he adds. "I worked mostly with Stuart, as this was his adaption, but Marie oversaw everything. We wanted to make sure this was what she had in mind, and luckily our vision matched up very well with her own. It’s a Bruce we've seen very little of, yet he needs to sew the seeds of what we all know he will become.
"For me, the reimagining element came from playing with his vulnerable and 'awkward teen' side. His life is anything but ordinary, but his emotional response to everything that's unfolding around him is something that will hopefully make him relatable to a new generation of readers."
Now enter the teen world of Bruce Wayne as a newly-minted billionaire being introduced to danger, romance, and mysteries in the full gallery below, then tell us if you'll grab a copy of DC INK's Batman: Nightwalker when this arresting graphic novel arrives Oct. 1