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Batman: Dead White [Mass Market Paperback]

John Shirley , Bob Kane
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 July 2006 Batman
Who better than Batman to protect the dangerous city of Gotham, where even the cops are crooks? But the latest imminent terror might be too much for the burgeoning Caped Crusader, who is still carving out a place for himself in the minds of Gotham’s criminals.

There’s a host of deadly new weapons in Batman’s glittering, sinister city–in the hands of a psychotic mastermind called White Eyes. With his radical murder machine, the fiendish leader of Gotham’s racist Bavarian Brotherhood can move beyond dealing drugs and hot guns to pursue his real passion: the white supremacist takeover of America.

The homegrown terrorists’ first strike–at the heart of our nation’s capitol–is only weeks away. But first they’ll test out their killer toys on Batman, who is hot on the trail of White Eyes and his brutal militia. Ounce for ounce, muscle for muscle, Batman’s no match for the cunning villain and his wicked new firepower. At least, that’s how White Eyes sees it.

Batman has other ideas . . .

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Batman: Dead White + Batman: Fear Itself + Inferno (Batman)
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (25 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345479440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345479440
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 10.7 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 220,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most fun you can have without pictures.... 29 Jun 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When I bought this book I actually thought it was a graphic novel. I love almost all of the Batman stories and have long been a fan of the darkness consistent in all of the best ones, but had never tried reading any of the novels because I thought they could never live up to the comics. So when I received this one I was at first very annoyed. I decided to give it a go though and within a few pages was well and truly hooked. The best thing about this story is the way it can cover Batman's inner monologue as a calculating scientific and very human crimefighter in a way very few comics have the time or space to. The best comparison I have found in comics was actually a page in the seminal Dark Knight Returns that got me hooked on comics as a whole and Batman in particular many years ago "There are seven working defenses from this position: Three of them disarm with minimal contact. Three of them kill. The other... hurts"

Safe to say that this is the best Bats story I have read in a long time, and cannot praise it highly enough. READ IT!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Early stages of Venom 22 Nov 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent story of the Dark Knight creating his legend before things get overly complicated with Batman international. This story meant for adults not children. Batman has started to establish himself, and is taking on a White supremacist organisation, street criminals and corrupt Gotham Police officers. Their leader is a giant man using an early form of the Venom steroid. With Batman it is always interesting to see the interplay between Bruce and Batman, and the lengths Batman will go to keep his two personalities separate. My only complaint would be I would have liked more time focused on Batman/Bruce, not just the side characters who would probably not be heard of again outside this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Novel 15 May 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was the first Batman novel i have read after reading a few of the graphic novels. It has to be said that this is a really good story with some serious adult themes and looking back on it after reading it, the story was well put together and original, however this is not suitable for children to read in my opinion.

The story stands alone away from other batman storylines, because as far as i can understand this is based on an original enemy so reading it won't require the reader to have been previously introduced to characters in the story. In terms of timeline into Batman's career it is certainly set in his first 2 years based on many of the descriptions it gives into Batman's experience and insight into situations.

There are some issues though that i found as a reader, many of the chapters are very lengthy and each cover a range of subjects and scenarios which would of made for a better read if they were split into seperate chapters. Also the author is very descriptive which is great by allowing the reader to build a picture of situations, but the descriptions of some minor characters can become frustrating as i found it broke the story down alot and took the pace out of the storyline when you were really wanting to get back to the action.

Despite some of the negatives of how the book is actually written for a reader such as myself who doesn't read a book cover to cover in a few days but over weeks, it is definitly worth a purchase as the story feels fresh, dark, very adult reader orientated an is a stand out original.
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Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good story, not so Batman-like, but good 25 July 2012
By Zeb Carney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a very adult story of Batman. It is very well written, and you will want to finish this book. But I felt that Batman didn't really get any time in the story, neither did Bruce Wayne for that matter. And I only recall Alfred having one line. As a dedicated Batman fan I feel it is important to address all things Batman, and in my opinion, Batman is not Batman without Alfred. There isn't even a mention of any other of Batman's enemies. But that part I rather enjoyed, it was a very different book. But, that is the Batman fan in me speaking. This is, however, a very good book. And I would recommend it for anyone who likes crime stories and mysteries. But if you want to read a book about Batman, I would suggest something else.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Batwho? 31 Aug 2011
By Aaron R. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I picked up this novel because, well, it's Batman. I've read dozens of graphic novels and was going through other non-graphic novels like Fear Itself and No Man's Land. After finishing this I have to wonder, did John Shirley ever pick up a Batman book and/or movie before? Did he even know who the character was? Perhaps he only knew of the Adam West television series and thought he was doing a more serious version of that? I don't know how else to explain not only the blatant disregard for the character but also the poor quality of the story.

First of all, this is not like any other version of Batman. I could understand if they were trying to put a different spin on the character we know and love (Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth has a terrific version of Bats that is vastly different than usual) but they have to keep it true to the spirit. This is not true nor is it who we Batfans know and love. He doubts himself, openly chats and jokes with everyone including villains, has problems defeating a single steroid-pumped thug, lets people die without even attempting to save them, serious considers quitting for a woman (who has no other history with him outside this book and has no personality whatsoever in it), and forgets why he fights crime occasionally. My jaw literally dropped when Batman did something in the finale that, in the real world, would have killed or seriously injured the person. And it went lower when they did the lousy Saturday morning cartoon show thing of having the guy come out of it perfectly okay. In the hands of someone like Jeph Loeb or Frank Miller such changes could have been incredibly compelling. But there should have been no more than just one of these aspects here since Shirley doesn't get Batman like they do. Worst of all, Batman often acts as open as Clooney's version. He walks around in broad daylight surrounded by police and FBI. At one point he even takes the Batmobile to drop someone off at the airport for no reason other than to basically say "I got your back." I was dumbfounded at the audacity to do something so out of character like that. I pity the poor fool who uses this book as his introduction to the Batmythos.

Shirley also seems confused as to which part in Bathistory this takes place. On the one hand, characters bluntly state that he's just emerged. On the other, pretty much everyone has seen him and he doesn't bother to hide, the police no longer bother trying to capture him except for the racist double agents, and he has super advance technology for every occasion. All of which point to later career Bats. What kind of character progression can there possibly be when after his first few months when the President wants to deputize him, he's got a holographic cloaking device on his car, and when Homeland Security is following the Batwing?

There's really only two other Batcharacters in the book: Gordon and Alfred. Gordon is fine, mostly because he's in such a minimal role. But Alfred also got the shaft. He's portrayed as this annoying know-it-all who goes off on rants over the littlest things (think Cliff Clavin from Cheers). He too has little to do, but what he does is quite memorable for the wrong reasons. The rest are all original characters, and all lack interesting personalities. Cormac Sullivan and his son Gary are the biggest characters who don't have their names in the title. But they seem to have a greater number of pages dedicated to them than The Dark Knight does. If anything, of the three main stories, Bats is given the least amount of time. Anyways, Cormac and Gary have somewhat of an interesting story, except that it really has nothing to do with the main story. Cormac starts off involved in the whole White Supremacist thing, but detracts from the story for the whole middle half (meaning Shirley keeps going back to him even though nothing he does has anything to do with anything else and could be cut out without any problem), and comes back for the finale pathetically trying to tie it all back together. Seriously, the reason they come back into the main story is flimsy at best.

There's also little to no Gotham City. Again, if it was done well it would interesting but it isn't. I like the idea that Batman has to go out of his element and into the woods. It opens up possibilities that just aren't taken advantage of. Gotham has become a character in itself, like Star Trek and the Enterprise. Sure there have been good Batstories without much of Gotham, but the corrupted society aspect of the story lent itself to the corrupted Gotham. Instead we get boring Pennsylvanian woods.

A poor adaptation of the characters could be forgiven if they had a decent story regardless, which brings us to the next biggest problem: racists simply are not interesting. The story revolves around Bats uncovering a terrorist group of white supremacists who intend to overthrow the government and advance their own Neo-Nazi/KKK ideals. Okay, that's not such a bad idea in itself. If Bats can stop Evil President Luthor he can stop the modern Hitler. Here's the problem, the book literally spends the majority of its time focusing on any one of the many racists, more than Batman and Cormac combined. And all they do is be angry. There's absolutely no other character aspects to them, but hate, and that's not interesting. Not one of them has any backstory. They're not dynamic, just one dimensional annoyances. Perhaps if racism was just one side quirk to an actual personality this could have been an interesting examination of how racism perpetuates itself in society. But it's not. It's one note played over and over and over again overwhelming everything else, and I got sick of it by the end of the first third. The bigger problem with this is that it makes it seem as though these white men (there's only one woman in the group who turns out to be the only good, wholesome person there) are just inherently evil. As a white man myself, I take great offense to that. I've known quite a few racists and I know that there are deeper issues to it, like upbringing and economic times, and not simply being born to hate others. It also didn't help me personally that their homicidal leader shares my first name.

One thing that really took me out of the universe was the amount of product placement. Seriously, every other chapter had some brand name pop up, usually towards the end so you remembered it was in there before taking a break. There is something to be said for including some products for realism, but I don't need to unnecessarily read about Geico or Home Depot. These names were thrown in for the heck of it, without any other need. One chapter features Bruce and Alfred talking about the racists while watching the news, and ends with a quick paragraph going to a commercial for Geico. No reason at all other than to throw the name in.

The novel is certainly darker than it needs to be, and not in a "Batman is a brooding character" kind of way. In fact, Bats seems like jolly ol' Santa Claus compared to the rest of the book. There's a lot of swearing and many, many derogatory terms for black, gay, and Jewish people thrown in every paragraph in the racists' sections. Many sections deal with heavy drug usage. It's also very violent. The racists' sections are full of death, grimly described. One character reappears with a facial feature missing. Tarantino might be proud of it all, but Bob Kane would be horrified. And so am I since all of it really had little to no place in story other than to be gratuitous. Considering that the racists make up the majority of the book, that's a lot of swearing and death in addition to their less-than-charming demeanor. It's mentally exhausting to have to put up with so much of this Batcrap.

Now, I almost gave it two stars when I was reading this. It was poor but not awful. What lost that one star was the final twenty pages, the wrap up of the three storylines. Each one of these are horribly written, relying on the most overused cliches, revealing character aspects that appear literally out of no where with no basis in the story before it, and so painfully forced that I could not have been more glad to have finished it. It's like Shirley got to the end and forgot to actually finish the story so he forced these endings on us.

In the end, this book in no way seems like a Batman story. It's almost like Shirley had this whole white supremacist takeover story and then shoehorned Batman into it. Cause when the title character, especially one with an seventy-year history, is a almost a minor character in his own book you know there's problems. Who at DC Comics actually approved this, I'll never know and hope I never do. Apparently someone there fell asleep at the Batwheel.
15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Okay 30 July 2006
By Savant11 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really did not like this book very much. I think it suffered from too much what I call 'Bat god' syndrome.

I am very much a fan of the 70's version of Batman which combined the 'world's greatest detective' along with the fact that Batman is a tremedous athelte. I think that this story had the potential to be great if Mr. Shirley had couched it in reality and made Batman more fleshed out.

Mr. Shirley's Batman has too many gadgets, and they seemed to be simply in the story to simply be 'cool'. and It bothered me the way in which the good cops bowed and scrapped to him. Some of the older Batman stories imply that Batman does what he does because Gordon allows him to. Batman is a vigilante who likes to do things his way. But at the same time he knows how not to overstep his bounds not unessarily antagonize the cops. The best Batman stories are the one where he works with the police yet manages to stay in the shadows.

I also was not too crazy about his interpretation of Batman/Bruce Wayne. He seemed to be more reminiscent of 'Punnisher lite'. As opposed to the master tactician and strategist that he was. He was way too hardcore. Whereas the 70's Batman wasn't so uptight. It was even demonstrated in the film 'Batman Begins'.

I also found the writing too choppy and uneaven. And it really became tiresome to read. I really found this book very disapointing.
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok at best. 21 Nov 2013
By Siva - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's an okay read but not really the Bats we know. He gives someone a lift to the airport at dawn? Has time for chit chat with Gordon? A villain that resembles Bane in some manner? This book is a weak attempt at creating a bat story. It is somewhat interesting if you want something to read that says Batman on it but not a true Bat fan's book.
14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dead White? Dead Wrong! 9 Nov 2006
By E. Lee Zimmerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I don't know that John Shirley has ever picked up a single comic book or graphic novel detailing the mythos of Batman, the Dark Knight, in his life, but, if I base my opinion on the "facts" he presents in BATMAN: DEAD WHITE, I'd have to say loudly that he hasn't. As a matter of fact, I'm honestly surprised that the good folks at DC Comics would have allowed this "interpretation" of the Dark Knight -- if that's what it is -- to see the light of day.

Now, don't get me wrong: the first one hundred pages of DEAD WHITE are very impressive. A new villain has come to Gotham City in the form of Aaron Bunch, aka White Eyes. He's a bit of an old school thinker -- death and destruction are good for business -- with a heavy whiff of New Wave crime thinking -- African-Americans and Jews are the source of all things wrong with the world -- and he hopes to bring an end to the 'Zionist rule' with high tech weaponry and a launch of the Ebola Virus on U.S. soil ... all of this starting with the destruction of Washington D.C. It's a surprising inventive, fresh, and mature idea for a Batman novel, especially given the fact that Batman is a superhero largely brushed off from topics of political relevance with stories of costumed madmen and wild fisticuffs. There's a tremendous amount of thought that goes into the set-up of the characters and the events in this tale set in Bruce Wayne's early forays as the Batman, and author Shirley involves a young Captain James Gordon and a disgraced Gotham City cop Cormac Sullivan.

However, once you get beyond those first hundred pages or so, DEAD WHITE begins to feel less and less like a Batman story and more like an adventurous yarn that was force-fed into the Batman universe. White Eyes becomes less interested in action and far more interested in making grand sermons against the Zionist Conspiracy. A love interest inserted into Bruce Wayne's life feels much like a bad afterthought thrown in for the sole purpose of lightening up the darkness, giving the readers a chance to see, 'Hey, the world ain't all bad,' and it might be more believable if it all didn't feel so Hollywood. Add to the mix the fact that Shirley appears to have no grasp at all for one of the Batman's prime directives -- "thou shalt not kill" -- and you're quickly concerned about the novels rising body count; once Batman savagely kills five men with a rocket-fired missile from his new Batplane in the ultimate showdown, I realized I wasn't reading 'Batman' any more but quite possibly the draft for the next Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ... once Arnold decides to quit politics. Also -- it's a minor quibble -- but one of the inherent strengths of the Batman universe is the subtle work of tying in the darker, subversive Gotham City as a character within the tale, but, sadly, much of this book takes place with other characters, leaving the reliably dark and sinister Gotham City little more than a passing reference. There's a part of me convinced that this just WASN'T a Batman story at one point in its history, but somehow -- be it crafty editing or some heavy "search/replace" Microsoft Word revision -- it became one.

What Shirley does very well in these pages is capture a sense of darkness -- of dread, of doom and gloom -- associated with these elements of crime. I'm not entirely convinced that white supremecists are as dumb as the author would have you believe, but they're quite probably from a mental track as twisted. It's easy to dismiss some relatively off-the-mark character moments in the last one hundred pages because the action is whizzing by with comic book frenzy -- there's guns, explosions, fights, etc. -- but once the villainous White Eyes descends into glorified speeches and cheap grandstanding, the novel just spirals out of control. There are WAY too many events depicted in the last couple of chapters, including some pretty laughable sequences of what's supposed to be heartfelt understanding between a reunited father and son finally making peace between themselves with the help of ruthless violence, and the book feels rushed together in order to make a publication date.

Other reviewers have also noted: the book is not for the young. I'd have to heartily agree.
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