The Legends of the Dark Knight start here.
Denny O’Neal and Ed Hannigan’s Shaman is not a story that everyone has read. In fact, most may not have heard of it. It is available on comixology, but if you want a physical copy, it will take some searching. I had to travel all the way to Newfoundland before I found mine. It is out of print, and looks to stay that way.
It is the first story in the Legends of the Dark knight series, a series that follows after the success of Year One and continues the Post-Crisis retelling of Batman’s early days. But it doesn’t hold the same gravitas as some of the stories immediately following such as Grant Morrison’s Gothic, or O’Neal’s Venom.
In Shaman, which interweaves itself around Year One and beyond, Bruce Wayne is saved by a shaman, who tells Bruce the story of how the bat got its wings. He sends Bruce on his way, but tells him not to tell anyone else of their existence. Of course Bruce doesn’t listen and it leads to the destruction of the Shaman’s people and a drug ring starting in Gotham, of all places.
It isn’t the greatest of stories, but it isn’t the worst either. Denny O’Neal who’s stories I’ve touched on and created many great characters, always knows how to tell a story well and Ed Hannigan’s does a fairly good job of inserting mazzucchelli’s Year One style into his own.
This book has a few good moments that I like. The opening scene hardens back to a scene O’Neal wrote for the Ra’s Al Ghul episode of the Animated series, where Bruce is mountain climbing in the bitter cold and a sniper starts shooting at him. He uses his winter coat as a decoy to sneak up behind the guy. It’s a clever play that shows off Bruce’s brilliance. The cold and a missed shot is what put him into the Shaman’s care. As a Canadian I can really respect Batman’s dedication and strength. Later in the, he is on stakeout in Gotham, complaining of minus 2 degree weather. Initially I thought that it wasn’t that bad, that -2 Fahrenheit wasn’t nearly as bad as even -2 celsius, and that he was just being a baby. But I was quite wrong its more like -20 Celsius. That’s cold. That’s a cold that I know. But I don’t know it from under only a cape and cowl!
The importance of this is that it is the beginning of the Legends run, which later had 3 Loeb/Sale Halloween specials, which lead to the Long Halloween.
Had things in the comic world been a little different at the time the art of this book and its importance may have been completely different. Jim Lee had originally been planned to do the inaugural issues of this series, be he didn’t, deciding instead to help start up Image comics.
Thanks for reading, next I’ll be starting to take individual looks at the villains that play a roll in The Long Halloween. Should be fun.
Images from Legends of the Dark Knight: Shaman TPB, http://www.loudbassoon.com/literature/images/batman_lotdk_shaman.jpg, http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1318886416l/160875.jpg