Most of us know the story of Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter ego Batman. Created by DC Comics, Batman is a member of the Justice League, and one of the best-known superheroes.
But in this new series- DC Icons- readers are introduced to Bruce, and some of his fellow DC compatriots, in a slightly different way. Several popular authors for young adults have taken on the challenge of writing about these heroes before they became heroes- essentially, when they’re still teenagers and haven’t yet taken on the responsibilities that they will in the future. These are their formative years, when they start to take the path towards their superhero destinies, yet haven’t quite gotten to the skill or experience level that they are known for.
At time of writing, only three of the four planned novels have been published, and I have written short pieces about each of them below. As of yet, there is no release date for Superman which will be written by Matt de la Peńa…
Batman: Nightwalker - Marie Lu
When Bruce Wayne is arrested after an impulsive act on his eighteenth birthday, he is sentenced to a community service stint at the infamous Arkham Asylum- a prison known for holding Gotham City’s criminal elite.
While cleaning the Intensive Treatment hallways (the basement level area where the worst of the worst are kept), he comes across a young prisoner named Madeleine Wallace- a brilliant killer and potential genius. A member of the Nightwalkers- a group that has been murdering the wealthy and stealing their fortunes to fund their campaign- Madeleine refuses to communicate with the police about the Nightwalkers’ plans, despite numerous interrogations. But when she catches sight of Bruce, everything changes. She begins to open up (although only to him), and Detective Draccon- Bruce’s law enforcement supervisor- enlists his help to try and put an end to the Nightwalkers’ plans.
Hoping to gain her trust, Bruce forms a tentative friendship with Madeleine. But how much of what she says can be trusted? Is she really trying to help him or is she only furthering her group’s campaign?
With his family fortune behind him, a strong focus on fairness and justice, and the support of his guardian Alfred, mentor Lucius Fox, and best friends Harvey Dent and Dianne Garcia, Bruce is determined to stop the Nightwalker’s reign of terror on Gotham City.
Will he succeed? Or will Madeleine be a force to be reckoned with?
Rating: 4/5 Published: January 2018
Wonder Woman: Warbringer – Leigh Bardugo
As the queen’s daughter and the only Amazon born of the earth (not battle-born), Diana has always felt as though she has to prove herself to her fellow sisters. Her chance comes with the Nemeseian Games- an Amazonian competition where she may finally have an opportunity to prove her worth. Having secretly trained for weeks, Diana is determined to show the rest of the Amazons that she is not just a fragile princess, but someone who is just as strong as they are. But all of her training is seemingly in vain when she witnesses a mortal shipwreck off the coast of Themyscira, and feels compelled to help the one remaining survivor, even though it could mean her expulsion from the island.
After saving the mortal girl- Alia Keralis- from the shipwreck, strange things start happening on the island, and Diana learns that Alia- a decedent of Helen of Troy- is the cause. Unbeknown to her, she is a Warbringer- fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Assassination before her seventeenth birthday seems to be the only ‘cure’ for this horrific curse, until Diana consults the oracle and is informed of an alternate solution- one that will cleanse the entire Warbringer bloodline and save Alia’s life. The only thing is, they have less than a week to make it happen.
Trusting her gut instinct, Diana decides to risk everything to help rid Alia of the curse and try to save the world from war. With armies of enemies against them- both mortal and immortal- Diana and Alia are in a race against time to destroy the curse and put an end to the Warbringer lineage. Will they succeed in time? Will Diana finally be able to prove her worth as an Amazon? Or will Alia’s unfortunate and unwelcome fate as Warbringer bring about the end of the world?
Rating: 4/5 Published: August 2017
Catwoman: Soulstealer – Sarah J. Maas
Despite being one of the brightest students in the country and having the opportunity to be a professional gymnast, Selina Kyle has instead put her own life on hold to ensure the survival of her beloved younger sister Maggie. Suffering from cystic fibrosis, this debilitating disease means that Maggie needs important and expensive medical assistance to survive, and with an absentee mother and no father they know of around, it’s up to Selina to make sure she receives this treatment. Unfortunately, in a city like Gotham, the only way to make the kind of money needed comes from a life of crime and danger, and, as an undefeated member of the Leopards gang, Selina has to resort to violence, ring fighting and robberies to make this happen.
When Selina is offered a way out of her problems by Talia al Ghūl from the League of Assassins, she doesn’t hesitate on giving Maggie a chance for a better life, even if it means cutting herself off completely. Travelling to Italy, she takes on the dangerous, isolated and vigorous training required to become one of the world’s elite assassins, becoming an instrument in the League’s arsenal to destroy the world as we know it.
Two years later, she returns to Gotham City with a mission and a new identity as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. By day, she plays the role of rich socialite. At night, she takes her pickings from the wealthy- stealing jewels, priceless artifacts and anything of monetary worth. Adopting the name Catwoman, and joining forces with Gotham’s other bad girls, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, Selina wreaks havoc on Gotham City. With Batman currently away on a secret mission, the only one who can stop the trio is his second-in-command, the just-as-elusive Batwing.
Selina’s plans hinge on a desperate game of cat and mouse- toying with threats from the League and from Gotham City’s worst. With Batwing also on her tail, Selina needs to use all of her skills to pull off the ultimate heist and meet her end goal. In this cutthroat world, will she be able to achieve what she has set out to do? Or will she become another victim of Gotham’s dangerous underworld?