Batman: Private Casebook Review

Overview

Batman: Private Casebook is a storyline which collects 7 other small single issues storylines following The Ressurection of Ra’s al Ghul. Originally running from March to August 2008. The edition reviewed here is the Hardcover version which I got for under £5 from Forbidden planet. What a steal! Mostly written by Paul Dini the acclaimed writer and one of the driving forces behind Batman: The Animated Series and the creator of Harley Quinn.

Private Casebook has a number of villains from the Rogue’s Gallery including Ra’s al Ghul, Penguin, a new Ventriloquist, Scarface, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, The Mad Hatter and The Penguin as well as some cameos from Tim Drake, Catwoman and Zatanna.

Batman: Private Casebook is a part of Detective Comics and collects Detective Comics #840-#845 and Infinite Halloween Special #1.

Key Information

Book NamePrivate Casebook
Book SeriesDetective Comics
Edition ReviewedCollected Edition (HC)
Year Published2009
Originally Published2008
Writer(s)Paul Dini, Peter Milligan
Artist(s)Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, John Kalisz
Pages160
Issues7
Where to BuyAmazon
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Batman: Private Casebook
18 Reviews
Batman: Private Casebook
  • Paul Dini
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Paperback: 160 pages

Batman: Private Casebook Review

Detective Comics #840: The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, Epiloque Review

Now, before I begin. I haven’t actually read The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, which is a little bit embarrassing bit like I said, it was one a super offer and I couldn’t not get it, read it and review it.

There’s great modern art in this book and a short and swift introduction to a minor villain – The Globe. Of course Ra’s is here, there’s some chit chat and then a street wide scrap between Batman and some Ninjas. What’s great about this is that context of The Resurrection has not been necessary and I wasn’t lost at all. Batman tracks him down to his new fancy lair but disappointingly it’s over far too quickly and far too easily for Bruce. He ships him off to Arkham and makes it clear, Gotham is Batman’s.

One thing that stands out in from the epilogue is Bruce Wayne putting one of the most famous of his villains in his place as they both fight and ponder over their long and complicated relationship, there’s a mention of how Ra’s would have made Bruce the heir to all of League of Assassins and in some sense, the world. Bruce, though, is not interested in that and only wants to continue his single minded quest to rid Gotham of crime.

It’s a short and sweet book but feels like this should have been placed at the end of Resurrection rather than at the beginning of Private Casebook. Either way, great dialogue and art did make it a pretty good issue.

Detective Comics #841: The Wonderland Gang! Review

Bruce’s at Gotham Fashion Week and he explains how these events are important to be seen in as he keeps up the facade of the Billionaire playboy, if he wants to keep being Batman then he needs to keep being Bruce. Soon after though we get to see who the villain in Wonderland Gang! is – The Mad Hatter. In a rare occurrence, Mad Hatter and the gang gain the upper hand on Bruce and scarper. It’s a quick burst of fun and the scenes were humorous and had a decent level of action.

Private Casebook is a Detective Comics series and so there’s some great deductive investigation going on which are some of my favourite bits of Batman as a whole, however there’s no guesswork for the reader to do as it’s all handed over on a plate.

Without spoiling it all, The Wonderland Gang! is a great little issue surrounding some deceit and villains turning on each other to try and get up the crime ladder. It’s very humorous at times which come out with square and bold art and vibrant colours, it’s self contained and a lot of fun this issue. Not one of Batman’s greatest cases but a great casual read.

Some people have marked this issue down due to it’s goofy and campy tone but it’s one of the reasons I’ve marked it up, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of lightheartedness from a Batman story. Does this issue break any ground? Absolutely not, but is it well written and the characters represented well? Yes! Plus Nguyen’s art is crisp and sharp.

Detective Comics #842: The Suit of Sorrows Review

The Suit of Sorrows is the only issue in Private Casebook not written by Paul Dini but Nguyen is still the penciller, Paul Milligan takes over the storyline and believe me you will be able to tell the difference. The first page took me a while to read thanks the overly cursive lettering on Talia’s letter regarding the ‘Suit of Sorrows’. The suit of sorrows seems to give Bruce a little bit extra as he comes extremely close to a minor villain, Gotham Jack. The scene between the two is extremely short but long enough to know Gotham Jack has been up to some horrendous stuff.

It doesn’t sit well with me that Peter Milligan has written Bruce Wayne as the sort of guy who would just put on a suit that seems to alter his behaviour and bring out a violence tendency, not only that but the suit is also serious ugly. Batman is usually calculated and methodical and I just find the whole thing odd. The fact that it’s called the Suit of Sorrows doesn’t seem to ring any bells.

The issue is a bit of a mystery as Bruce uncovers the history and secrets of the Suit and Sorrows and travels the world to The Alps to find it…still wearing said suit. Everything looks great in Nguyen’s capable hands but I still can’t shake off the ludicrous story.

It doesn’t get any better even when the secrets are revealed. Batman head out once more to put an end to Gotham Jack’s crime spree and once again he puts on the cursed suit he knows for sure has some supernatural properties to it. Madness.

Detective Comics #843: Opening Night Review

Opening night is part one of a short story – Detective Comics #843 starts with a disaster at a newly or soon to be opened club and then Batman’s investigation into who’s behind it. Paul Dini is back at the writing table for this one and you can tell straight away with the clever and precise conversation between Batman and Penguin. Zatanna is also one of the bigger name characters to feature in this Private Casebook issue. Bruce uses his civilian persona while working with Zatanna to find the person behind the fire at Club Vesuvius.

So far, there’s a lot of conversation and intrigue which is quite a page turner. The appearance of a new Ventriloquist is also a very interesting one, Arnold Wesker can be a boring one and Shauna hadn’t been created yet! Not sure what her name is, Miss Sugar was mentioned, but she’s a lot easier to understand than Wesker – she doesn’t have a lisp! Her name’s revealed as Peyton Riley and she seems to know Bruce, interesting!

This is a really good issue, not much Bat action but plenty of Bruce Wayne action to keep the readers happy. The art work is the same old quality from Nguyen and both Scarface and Peyton looks great, as does Zatanna for that matter – they’re both a little more revealing than they need to be but nothing over the top. It’s an unremarkable issue but one which didn’t get anything wrong – the most interesting point of the issue being the immense sexual tension between Bruce and Zatanna and the real possibility of something happening there.

Detective Comics #844: Curtains Review

Curtains carries on where Opening Night left off with somewhat of a cliffhanger. Doesn’t quite go to plan with escaping and Bruce’s time without the suit continues – I actually quite like Bruce Wayne stories from time to time, he is an interesting character in his own right without Batman, quite often more resourceful out of necessity, too. A perfect match for Detective Comics stories.

Peyton Riley is fleshed out a lot more in this issue and we’ll learn about her past, still not about how her and Scarface came to be though. Paul Dini is putting in the effort to make sure Riley isn’t a full throwaway character-  one of the reasons Dini is so acclaimed.

The origin for the new Ventriloquist was a bit on the absurd side and seemed a bit rushed, it was made out to be that anyone could be Ventriloquist if they were at the right place at the right time. Dini delved into the possible supernatural powers of the dummy and discarding the wielder a bit – what does that mean for Wesker’s legacy? Ruined in an instant?

Ventriloquist aside, Curtains then delves once again into the will they won’t they relationship between Bruce and Zatanna which I felt was very well done. Overall, the two story issue was fairly good but the middle bit of Peyton Riley’s origins and onwards let it down. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last two issues though is that Zatanna is hot!

Detective Comics #845: The Riddle Unanswered Review

#845 opens up with a re enacting of a murder, drawn in a rough sketch sort of way. Not sure why to be honest, maybe to give an impact of a Police sketch. Gordon is investigating this one alongside Bats and I have to say I hate how he’s been drawn here. He looks like he is homeless with windswept grey hair and a really skinny, gaunt frame.

Catwoman makes an appearance and can’t help bring up Batman and Zatanna’s ‘romance’. So, she’s jealous? Batman feels the need to have to justify messing around with Zatanna. Great bit of writing. Batman goes on the internet to find a bit more, all seems very lazy and back in 2008 maybe it was cool to see Batman doing research online but this little scene has not aged well. Turns out, some of the other ‘anonymous’ users of the chat room discussing the case are similar characters – a GCPD cop, The Riddler, Barbara Gordon and the monkey.

The Riddle Unanswered does get a lot better, though. And it’s a really enjoyable read finding out who was the man behind the killings and especially his motives. Batman, of course, is right in the middle to dole out the justice and it’s a satisfying ending and a reminder of the cold relationship Batman has with his old enemies even if they are reformed. This was my favourite issue from Private Casebook.

Paul Dini just gets Batman and what he’s all about – from his fiesty encounters with Catwoman to his strained relationship with The Riddler and how he deals with them. Almost always, he is just brilliant.

Infinite Halloween Special #1: Kcirt Ro Taert Review

Infinite Halloween Special #1 is a very short story that focuses on a vengeful Zatanna avenging a young child as told by the Scarecrow. To me, this was all about the art and I really dig it. It follows the last book which was a Batman-Zatanna story and closes the Private Casebook nicely.

Summary

Private Casebook is a great collection of short stories with some fabulous art from Dustin Nguyen and excellent writing as always by Paul Dini. Private Casebook as a collection isn’t an absolute classic and it wouldn’t be with not enough issues strung together to we’ve a proper deep story. What Private Casebook is though is a quick read that will keep most Batman readers entertained. If you’re interested in Batman’s love life and particularly Zatanna then it will definitely worth it for you.

Score: 3.9/5

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Batman: Private Casebook
18 Reviews
Batman: Private Casebook
  • Paul Dini
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Paperback: 160 pages

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