Happy Halloween, Bruce Wayne

In celebration of All Hallow's Eve, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite Batman stories. I ran into the third act of it, in a graphic novel at a Half Price Books in Illinois. I couldn't find the complete trilogy at Amazon, so I figured it was out of print, but then I found a couple copies at my local comic shop. I was hooked. It achieves an atmosphere that few comics are willing to explore. The art creates a world that sucks you in. It's Batman meets gothic horror. It's

cover by Kelley Jones Tales of the Multiverse - Batman: Vampire
collecting the three graphic novels, Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm and Batman: Crimson Mist
by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones

Man, where do I begin? Gotham being overrun as it is, a weird cloud of red rain hovers over the city, and it brings with it a strange series of murders, the victims dying after two punctures in their neck. With Dracula in the title, you can tell where this is going.

Vampires might be overused now, but Kelley Jones builds them up as they used to be: dark, hungry, irresistible. Together with the way he draws Batman, there's an atmosphere that'll spook you. Check it out:
Man, who draws a cape like that? Kelley Jones is an auteur. Here's another shot, of Batman in the city.


Our Dark Knight faces off against Dracula by the end of Red Rain, and it's a great finale to the first act. I don't think I'm spoiling it when I tell you that Batman becomes a vampire by the end, and that kicks off the main arc for Bloodstorm. It's Bruce Wayne's struggle against the evil inside him. In the dark of night, he makes recurring visits to Ariadne, a collector of the occult, and his constant question is whether vampires are evil -- whether they must be evil.

And hey, here's a sweet-ass panel of Batman as a vampire:

In the conventional DC Universe, Bruce Wayne is this man that acts as this ghoul, this terror of the night. He frightens criminals but adheres to a rigid moral code. What makes the multiverse so brilliant is that here, Bruce Wayne becomes the terror of the night, and he becomes the monster that he's always played at being. There are no more rules. With the Joker gone at the end of the second act, Gotham's criminals come out of the woodwork and this is where Batman as a vampire really shines. It's a brutal, horrifying experience when Batman murders the Penguin, feasts on his blood and then beheads him in order to keep him from returning as a vampire.
And then puts on the Penguin's monocle and yells at his henchmen.

Crimson Mist is my favorite act of the trilogy, because this is the kind of story that only a multiverse could tell. It's Batman unleashed, Batman as I always wanted to see, but feared to admit. In the third act, Batman flies around Gotham as crimson mist, feasting on and beheading all the supercriminals in Arkham Asylum. And it doesn't stop there: Batman takes their heads and pikes them outside Blackgate Penitentiary, as a warning. That is wicked.
The trilogy ends in a way that you'd think, and it's fitting. But it's Gotham's dive into hell, and Batman's stuggle with evil that made me so glad I picked this up. I've never read a more chilling Batman story. Batman: Vampire isn't just a good Halloween reading experience; it's a good anytime reading experience. I give it my highest recommendation.

BONUS PAGE:

Here's an excerpt from the first act. Batman lures Dracula's followers into the Batcave, planning to detonate it and them inside.
It. is. sick.

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Read more Batman here.
Looking for some spoooky recommendations? Check out The Unknown vol. 1 and vol. 2.
Looking for Batman: The Long Halloween? Here it is.

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