Whilst this graphic novel has been criticised greatly, i fail to understand why. Yes, it does reimagine the Dark Knight into a slightly psychotic, cruel sadist, but that is what makes this book a must read. Its definitely not only Batman who is portrayed in a darker light, All characters in the book are slightly more cynical and twisted than their offiial DC counterparts, and it gives the impression that Gotham city itself is a corrupting force, not just the criminals living there.
Batman himself is portrayed, in my opinion, perfectly. He is dark and slightly crazy, more willing to break bones and hurt criminals just for fun. This i think is a better portrayal of the Dark Knight, as for all his training, all his money, he is still really a little boy with a temper, and shows no problem with it.
The story itself features a grimmer retelling of Batman training Robin, and the other, more acceptable superheroes (Green lantern and superman), trying to stop him destroying the peoples opinions of superheroes. This Sub-plt in particular is really interesting, because it deals more with the differences between true superheroes with powers, and Batman, who while pysically inferior to the powers of Superman and Green lantern, believes himself superior, and much of the book focuses on his disdain and dislike for the heroes, who he labels 'Idiots' and 'Morons' repeatedly.
the other standout feature in the book is the amazing artwork by Jim Lee, who captures the characters and Gotham perfectly, the pullout 5-page Batcave spread in itself is outstanding.
Overall, if you prefer the Batman from the mainstream comics, then you may not like this book, but if you want a little more darkness and a thinner line between criminal and crime fighter, then buy this book now.
Definitely one of the best Batman novels of the last few years, and at a great price too!