05 July 2011

Book Review Number 73: Batman: Death Mask by Yoshinori Natsume

I know a lot of people that read manga, but it's one that I'd never really had an interest in.  But the manga section is right next to the graphic novel section in my library, so my eyes sometimes wander that way.  Being a DC Fan, Batman caught my attention. On the "I may find something new to love" theory, I picked it up.  And I'm glad that I did.

For those unfamiliar with manga, they are read backward from what I'm used to with traditional English books.  It took a little while to get used to the way it was to be read, but once I did, I was able to fully immerse myself in the story.  It is a story of masks, both literal and figurative.  When a tour of Japanese masks makes its way to Gotham, Bruce Wayne sees a familiar evil from the time he spent in Japan training to avenge his parents' death.  The story moves between these two time frames and the reader gets to see some of what helped make Batman who he is.

It's not completely original, as there have been many stories that have delved into the darker past of Batman.  But it was a good story that brought in a new aspect of that past.  I enjoyed reading about Bruce's time in Japan, learning about the demon, Oni, and seeing the past coming back to haunt the future.  The artwork was wonderfully done in stark black and white.  All in all, it was a good read.

Batman: Death Mask would be a good bridge for those who have read super hero comics and graphic novels but want to get into manga.  It has both the familiar - Batman's story - and the new - the manga - that eases someone into this new form of reading.