Batmobile A Complete History and The Dark Night Manual Book Review (

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Tuesday, August 07, 2012

With the release of The Dark Night Rises there have been the usual swarm of media tie-in items and today we’re going to look at two new and beautiful hardcover books from Insight Editions that any Batmaniac with want to add to their library.
First up is Batmobile The Complete History ($35) by Mark Cotta Vaz.  This landscape oriented book is 144 pages covering the complete history of Batman’s most important gadget, the Batmobile.  In the earliest days of his career, Batman drove a simple red convertible roadster.  Hardly the iconic vehicle that we are familiar with today.  The name “batmobile” would not even be used until Detective Comics # 48, 21 issues after Batman debuted.  It was in Batman #20 from December 1943 when the Batmobile first truly became the Batmobile.  This issue had an amazing cover busting through the front cover and featuring the bat head on the front of the car which was now dark blue/black in color. 



Next up is a look at perhaps the most iconic of all of the versions of the Batmobile, created for the 1960s TV show by expert customizer George Barris.  With only 3 weeks to get the car built, Barris used  a 1955 Lincoln Futura prototype from his own collection as the car’s base.  The car was a beast to drive as it had no power steering and reportedly Batman star Adam West crashed several of them prompting a number of duplicates to be built.  Meanwhile in the comics, the Batmobile underwent numerous changes in design during the 1960’s and 1970’s, usually to make it look a good fit for the time period.  There’s a section in the book reprinted from a Batman comic which shows all of the versions of the Batmobile from  the 1930s to 1970 that gives the reader a highlight of the many changes.
The book takes you through The Batman films of the late 1980s and 1990’s with some fantastic concept drawings, cut-away blueprints, and full color pictures from the films.  The book concludes with a large section on the Christopher Nolan triliogy who demanded that the Batmobile be more than aesthetically pleasing, it also had to be technically and scientifically factual in all of its powers.  Finally the book wraps up with a look at the Batmobile in comic books today as well as a look at the various recent batmobile toys.  Cotta Vaz’ book is filled with fantastic photography and while it’s very heavily based on the films opposed to comics, it is still a gorgeous book with some wonderful information.
The Dark Knight Manual ($40) is a completely different type of book.  This book is more like one of those vault-style books geared towards collectors and filled with all manner of Faux items that can be removed from the book like Gotham City Police Department memos and case files, a Wayne Enterprises ID card, technical drawings and blueprints, window clings, Batsuit transparencies, Gotham City PD badge stickers, and much more.
This is a book geared to the true Batman fanatic.  Ever want to know what the exact size dimensions of the Batcave are?  You can find them on the enclosed bluprints.  The book has a comprehensive look at the Batsuit with all its technical specifications and a look at all of Batman’s various gadgets and weapons.  
The vehicles section covers the Bat vehicles seen in the Nolan trilogy like the Tumbler, the Tumble escape pod cycle, and “The Bat” flying vehicle.  This is accompanied by photos from the films as well as production art.
The Dark Knight Manual concludes with my favorite section, a look a personnel files of some of Gotham’s most well-known citizens like Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon, Jonathan Crane, Bane, Selina Kyle, and The Joker.  Again while the focus is strictly the Nolan films, the book does a great job in presenting a wealth of information in an interactive format.



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Mania Grade: A-
Title: Batmobile The Complete History
Price: $35.00
Title: The Dark Knight Manual
Price: $40.00
Publisher: Insight Editions