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Batman: The Cult (New Edition) Paperback – 18 Dec 2009

1.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Titan Books Ltd; New edition edition (18 Dec. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848566689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848566682
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.3 x 25.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 502,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Bernie Wrightson is a fan-favourite whose work includes Swamp Thing and Batman: The Cult. Jim Starlin is responsible for many of the greatest Batman stories ever told, as well as Cosmic Odyssey and Death of the New Gods!


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SPOILERS

A seemingly immortal charismatic con-man called Deacon Blackfire comes to Gotham and begins recruiting the city's homeless as members of his cult of personality, brainwashing them somehow into doing his bidding. There become so many that they overwhelm the city's police forces - and even Batman.

My problems with this book are many: Batman gets captured by the brainwashed homeless. Ok, so apparently homeless people become highly effective fighters once brainwashed. Batman gets caught in the most banal way, a situation he's been in countless times, but somehow falls victim to this time. Then he undergoes brainwashing which includes torture, starvation and hallucinatory drugs - he couldn't escape in the days he was chained up? It was literally a pair of handcuffs around a metal pipe, surely he could've escaped? It's yet another situation Batman's been in before countless times which he could've easily gotten out of. But then there wouldn't be a book if he escaped- it's so contrived and out of character.

There are so many instances of Batman's actions being out of character throughout. It's implied he uses a machine gun to kill an innocent (!) whilst under the influence of Blackfire's mind-controlling drugs. Then when he's shaken the drugs and is fighting back, he allows an innocent woman to be raped and killed - because he's got to deal with Blackfire quickly. But there's really no urgency at the end, Blackfire's not threatening to blow up the city, he's just sitting around waiting for Batman to show. He could've saved her. I think Starlin's excuse would be that Batman was still shaken from his druggy experience? Weak.

Let's talk about the character of Deacon Blackfire or lack thereof.
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cheap newspaper quality makes colors too dark, the book is hard to read, really painful for your eyes. upon opening the book fell into pieces.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2.6 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst Batman book ever? 18 Aug. 2012
By Sam Quixote - Published on Amazon.com
SPOILERS

A seemingly immortal charismatic con-man called Deacon Blackfire comes to Gotham and begins recruiting the city's homeless as members of his cult of personality, brainwashing them somehow into doing his bidding. There become so many that they overwhelm the city's police forces - and even Batman.

My problems with this book are many: Batman gets captured by the brainwashed homeless. Ok, so apparently homeless people become highly effective fighters once brainwashed. Batman gets caught in the most banal way, a situation he's been in countless times, but somehow falls victim to this time. Then he undergoes brainwashing which includes torture, starvation and hallucinatory drugs - he couldn't escape in the days he was chained up? It was literally a pair of handcuffs around a metal pipe, surely he could've escaped? It's yet another situation Batman's been in before countless times which he could've easily gotten out of. But then there wouldn't be a book if he escaped- it's so contrived and out of character.

There are so many instances of Batman's actions being out of character throughout. It's implied he uses a machine gun to kill an innocent (!) whilst under the influence of Blackfire's mind-controlling drugs. Then when he's shaken the drugs and is fighting back, he allows an innocent woman to be raped and killed - because he's got to deal with Blackfire quickly. But there's really no urgency at the end, Blackfire's not threatening to blow up the city, he's just sitting around waiting for Batman to show. He could've saved her. I think Starlin's excuse would be that Batman was still shaken from his druggy experience? Weak.

Let's talk about the character of Deacon Blackfire or lack thereof. He doesn't have any superpowers besides the seemingly long life he's lived and that is contributed to - believe it or not - bathing in human blood. Oh apparently he's charismatic though no evidence can be seen in any of his scenes in the book. He also relied on drugs to control Batman - I still don't buy the shoddiness with which that was set up - and a news reporter at the end of the book says he was apparently controlling all of these people through hypnosis?

My point is I don't understand how Blackfire could've posed a serious threat to Batman at all. He didn't seem clever or powerful, and in the fight at the end Batman defeats him easily. Blackfire somehow manages to not only subdue Batman but also the Gotham Police Force, the National Guard, the United States Army - all through brainwashed homeless people! There's suspension of disbelief and then there's bad writing and Jim Starlin falls into the latter category with this book.

Also, there's no overarching play here with Blackfire's unbelievably easy takeover of Gotham - he just wants to die at the end and become a martyr to his crap religion of homeless people. It's such a jaw-droppingly poor reason for the story.

The reason the homeless - or "Underworlders" as they're referred to - are able to take over the city is mostly due to incompetence from everyone in the book, Batman included. They use the sewers as their base of operations and everyone knows this but nobody goes down there to take them out, they just allow them to skulk around and pop up. Nobody has the wherewithal to throw down tear gas and then go in guns blazing - riot police could have this situation sorted no problem.

But we see the GCPD fail, the National Guard fail, and Batman fail, to defeat simplistic tactics by homeless people with guns and knives. It's such bad plotting because these hurdles could've been jumped by any one of them if they actually behaved as they would rather than how Starlin wants them to. And the Army don't get involved because a newsreader (there's an abundance of newsreaders overused throughout to serve as both narrators and the Greek chorus - they become a hindrance to the flow of the story and tedious to read long before the end) informs us the President thinks it would be too costly to send the Army into a city in mainland US soil that's under siege! Riiiight, so if a major US city were held hostage, the government would write it off and allow it its own sovereignty? I realise "Dark Knight Rises" has this as a big part of its story but at least with the film there were large stakes - a nuclear bomb - as opposed to thousands of homeless people wandering the streets.

There's also no mention of any other of Gotham's heroes and villains. At least with No Man's Land, Batman's rogues gallery was addressed with Joker, Penguin, Two Face and Black Mask each controlling parts of the city - where are they while Deacon Blackfire and his army of homeless nutters are running loose?

There are too many problems with this book to go into any further - the literally monster truck Batmobile, Batman's dependence upon guns at the end to resolve the story, why he acted weak for so long in the book and why he suddenly changed back, the blotchy artwork and messy colouring - but suffice it to say this is a pretty dire book.

This might be the worst Batman book ever written. It's dumb and riddled with plot holes, poor dialogue, even worse characterisation, and featuring the most contrived bad guy ever. I can't come up with a suitable comparison - Sam Kieth's Secrets? "Batman: The Cult" is a poorly conceived and an abysmally written book by a hack.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A One Note Story: For Jason Todd Fans Only 25 Aug. 2011
By Blujay1524 - Published on Amazon.com
I had come into the cult with high hopes, mostly being that I had never read a story with Jason Todd in it before. And after coming out of The Cult I can sum it up with 3 words: Waste of time.

The character of Batman (who is often known as one of the strongest willed characters in the DC Universe) is completely ruined in this story by being tortured into submission (mental submission that is). I cannot remember a single story where Batman's mind weakened to the point where he would obey his captor even after being released from the torture. Batman was not hypnotized in this story and he's not an idiot, he has the willpower to overcome this. But while he's in this dazed state and doing whatever he's told he's going around with a bunch of cultists watching them commit crimes and I'm pretty sure his lack of involvement causes the death of an innocent police officer. Great job Batman.

Jason Todd on the other hand is down at the police department with Commissioner Gordon actually being a useful character. Based on the portrayal of Jason in this story, and various others I've read since (Crisis on Infinite Earths/Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow) I can't figure out why he was voted to be killed off, in this story he is a far superior character to Batman and even ends up saving him.

And the tone, if you know Jim Starlin you know where I'm gonna go with this. The theme of the story is "Religion is Evil". That's it. And yeah, I guess people manipulating other people's loyalty to a certain religion (or something along that line) has attributed to a lot of horrible things but Jim Starlin comes off as a huge jerk in this story. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess he's a militant atheist (which as a non-religious person myself I find to be incredibly annoying). I understand having a lack of religion, if you have a problem with religion fine but this borders on insulting. It borders on "All religions are cults and they're evil" never mind the fact that religious institutions do a lot of good things too but I guess that would be inconvenient to this one note story. And on top of all that you can pick up the "underlying" theme from the get go, isn't a theme supposed to be subtle? Isn't that what good writing is all about? Well not here, Jim Starlin decides he's gonna push it down your throat harder then an episode of Captain Planet.

I never understood why author's like Starlin would waste their time pissing readers off in an attempt to be deep or edgy. I don't read comic books to get angry, I read them to have a good time, and "Batman: The Cult" is anything but a good time.

The only reason this doesn't get 1 star is because the Jason Todd Robin is the only redeeming factor and I feel he's written so well that it might be worth the second star.

I only recommend if you're a hardcore fan of Jason Todd, otherwise stay away from this pretentious, and preachy abomination
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriqing even a quarter century later 9 Jun. 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
The most radical re-imagining of the superhero in my lifetime is the exploration of motive and character devlopment at the psychological level. Cults in the real world succede by targeting the recruit's weakness. Cult leaders will seek the marginalized and disenfranchised for this very reason.

With Batman his weakness has been a conflict between ethos, to fight crime compasionately, and nature from experience, an urging to symbolically avenge his parents in a most brutal fashion over and over again. So when he is captured by the cult there is plenty of material to work with. It is entirely possible that Bruce Wayne would be an unusually easy target.

While the breakdown of Batman may be hyped up a bit with a preternatural villian, the essence of the process is on the mark. Isolation, starvation, physical torture, and narcotics are all means used by cult leaders.

The story pulls no punches when in comes to Batman's experience. There is no use of the easy-out plotline of Batman faking it. The process re-programming is not a smooth one; the detox is brutal. The artwork as much as the story demonstrate Batman's suffering. You can sense the tension in his sinew. In my opinion this story and art are a better exploration of psyche than the Frank Miller cannon.

While this may not be the most complex or subtle good guy vs bad guy struggle, I found the story, well-supported by the artwork, to be a better chracter study than most while still have having an engrossing plot line.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great self contained Batman epic. 10 Sept. 2010
By Holden Punk - Published on Amazon.com
I picked up this book after an hour or so walking up and down the racks of a comic store. I bought it because it was well priced and quite thick. The art was in the eighties/early nineties style DC art which I was indifferent about, but after reading I found the art to be a big contributing factor to the tale. The story was very well written and I was greatly surprised by this book. I went for quantity of pages and got quality of story as well.
Very big story which follows a cult of vagrants reign over Gotham city led by an enigmatic holy man. The story starts with Batman in their hands and goes back to tell the story of his capture and goes on to be one of the most epic Batman stories I've read. Dark, psychological and big.
Gotham sees one of it's darkest hours and Batman will be broken and fighting for his own sanity.
I highly recommend this book. Enjoy.
9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No thanks 24 April 2010
By Josh Jones - Published on Amazon.com
I don't see the appeal of this rendition of Batman. Throughout the story, he is:

1. Weak, both physically and psychologically. Despite the fact that Batman possesses arguably the strongest will in the entire DC universe, it is easily broken in this story, and his personality is reduced to that of a frightened child. This is an entirely acceptable plot point for Bruce Wayne, as this has been done many times over the years with regards to the death of his parents. But Batman shouldn't be broken down like this.

2. Taken by surprise by drugged homeless people more than once, and exhibits none of the detective skills he is known for. He simply blunders around until he is recaptured again and again.

3. Utterly at a loss for what to do. (Robin: What now, Batman? Batman: I don't know) The clearest plan of action he has throughout the story is to RUN AWAY from his enemies (again, the drugged homeless people).

4. Relieved when he is saved from being shot by a teenage youth. Not only is this disturbing because of the sheer number of times Batman is in a helpless position and has to be saved by other people (Robin), but in this case his savior stabs the teenager, killing him, and Batman only wishes to thank him for this. I'll say that again. Batman wanted to thank someone for stabbing and killing a teenager.

5. Resigned to the fact that Gotham City is lost to the leader of a religious cult. Batman literally gives up. He calls Alfred to pick him up in a car, and tells him to take him out of Gotham City, because the bad guys have won. This is also after any drug effects have worn off. So, we're supposed to believe that a level-headed, clear thinking Batman would give up on his city. Right.

No thanks. This is not Batman. When will these writers realize that you can only go so far with your own "rendition" of a character? Sure, I get the idea of humanizing Batman in this story so that the audience can maybe relate to his fear and pain. But too much of this undermines the entire character. People read Batman for a reason: he's a superhero. When you take your "rendition" this far, it's not Batman anymore. Also, the writing and art are just sloppy overall. The news segments are a rip off of The Dark Knight Returns, and not nearly as effective ("50% of the city has elected not to evacuate." How convenient!). And the art work is extremely muddy, with dozens of panels and drawings being directly recycled. How lazy. This book is just bad. Look elsewhere for a real Batman story. I suggest Year One, the Long Halloween and Dark Victory as essential Batman reading.
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