Batman: The Ultimate EvilBatman: The Ultimate Evil - Andrew Vachss

I picked this one up at the library, not sure what to expect. I've not read a lot of comics-turned-into-novels before, but a long time ago I'd read some Batman prose, plus I'm a fan of Batman usually. Well, the writing in this is a bit overwrought, and some of the descriptions of Batman's gadgets or abilities (both physical and mental) border on ludicrous. Even Alfred comes off as almost superhuman in some ways. Combine that with the fact that the book was published in 1995, and you get some funny outdated things, like his Batcave computer's 90GB hard drives. Also, Vachss refers to him as "the Batman," which just sounds weird after a while.

However, the actual plot of the story is quite serious. The "ultimate evil" in the title refers to child sex trafficking, and in this story Batman takes on the whole system that produces child pornography and arranges pleasure tours in southeast Asia. (The eventual target is the imaginary nation of Udon Khai, but parallels to Thailand are evident.) There's also a bit of rewritten history as Martha Wayne (Bruce's mom) turns out to be a detective whose murder was actually linked to her investigations into the sex industry.

The book is followed up by a heavily-footnoted article by David Hechler about child sex tourism, which makes it clear that this book is intended to raise awareness of the issue and be more than just an exciting Batman adventure. However, I don't know if it made a really good combination. I mean, we do not have Bruce Wayne's considerable wealth or Batman's extremely effective vigilantism to combat these crimes, and those were the necessary tools in the story. At the same time, it's something that doesn't quite work as entertainment per se because the writing is clunky and the subject matter is so dark.

An interesting experiment, but falls a bit short in execution.

Fed to jonathan's brain | November 11, 2009 | Comments (0)


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