For the past couple of months, every time I walked into Barnes and Noble, my eye was immediately drawn to The Dark Knight Manual in the sci-fi and fantasy section. It’s a hefty black book promising to detail the “tools, weapons, vehicles, and documents from the Batcave” in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie trilogy. It’s laid out to look like a manual put together by Bruce Wayne himself, so you’re totally immersed in that world while you read it. In reality, it’s written by Brandon T. Snider — an actor, writer, and comic book fan — and designed by Jon Glick. Yesterday, I finally caved to its $40 price sticker (it’s cheaper on Amazon.com, I later discovered), and it was worth it.
The book is filled with sticky notes, sketches, correspondence from Lucius and Alfred, and movie stills. Many of the images in the document have a different texture than the rest of the page, and there are fake clips or fake tape pretending to hold them in place, so the manual looks hand-made by Bruce.
Some of my favorite parts are the case files. Throughout the book are official-looking Gotham Police Department files on the Wayne murder, Harvey Dent, and the Joker, as well as an Arkham Asylum file belonging to Dr. Crane. There are also “taped-in” notes about Crane, Miranda Tate, John Blake, Carmine Falcone, Rachel Dawes, Bane, and Selina Kyle. Although the information provided about them is basic — nothing new, except possibly inaccurate heights and weights for them, etc. — it’s fun to flip through the pages and pretend like you’re really reading Bruce’s notes.
But the manual is mostly crammed with awesome info about all of Batman’s gear — everything from the Batsuit to batarangs. There are pages devoted to the grappling gun, utility belt, cowl, built-in transmitter, and sticky-bomb gun. There are tons of details about the Tumbler if you’re a Batmobile fan. There are diagrams and specifications and sketches and notes that look hand-written from Lucius. A love of Batman means a love of technology and gadgets, and this manual really digs into that passion.
The book also has goodies for readers to take away. I’m leaving mine safely tucked into the manual for now, but the goodies include stickers, several different Joker cards (from the Joker himself, of course), blueprints for the Batcave and the flying Bat, and my favorite thing of all: a big, gorgeous, realistic map of Gotham City.
It’s the kind of book you might only flip through once or twice, but it looks sexy on a coffee table. And honestly, looking through this manual with all of its pull-out blueprints and textured case files made me feel like a kid again; every page has a new surprise. Some of the details are probably new to fans of the Nolan trilogy — they were to me — but the real joy is feeling like you’re in Batman’s world, reading the details from a firsthand account.
It might be a tad pricey, but it’s the best geek purchase I’ve made in a long time.