Batman: Impostors is the graphic novel, written by David Hine and Scott McDaniel, that the recent game called Gotham City Impostors seems to be based off of. The game seems to be based upon the idea that groups of copycats, aping both Batman and the Joker and engaging in violence towards each other for no apparent reason. The book does try to expand upon this notion by introducing the character Winslow Heath who after being caught up in an attack by Joker is left permanently scared and loses his girlfriend also in the attack. He tries to get revenge by creating a addictive version of the Joker gas and passing it out to people, with the expressed desire of creating chaos. This leads to a Batman impostor to arise and try to impose order like Batman by going to war with the Jokers. This naturally leads to chaos with the police and Batman struggling to regain order in the city.
It sounds boring, doesn’t it? And that is because it is, it is really, really, really dull. This is a fascinating concept in my mind. What would Batman do if there was someone who tried to be like him but killed? What if they were just an ordinary person inspired to act like him? How would he deal with this? What would the Joker do if there was someone out there who was trying to copy him? We have seen it with the Mad Hatter and what he did to the impostor. But how would the Joker react? Would he be happy as he has professed in several comics; that he wants the world to see it as he does? Would he be angry, completely lose it and try and hunt him down in his own unique way, like we see in the Long Halloween? I did spend most of the novel thinking that it was the Joker and we would see some mad cap scheme. While I can see that it would be predictable I think it would make the issue much more exciting and interesting.
However David Hine addresses none of these points at all in the storyline. The Joker makes no appearances and it fails to ask and answer any of these interesting questions. This leads to a very dull issue with Gotham once again torn apart by civil disorder. But these things have been covered in much more interesting ways by both War Games and No Mans Land. These both take a deep look at civil disorder and Batman’s role in combating and creating these problems and the characters that it attracts. It feels like the story wants to address these issues in a great way but I cannot escape the fact that it really does not. It just feels thin and weak especially coming from the lips of Winslow Heath.
And that is part of what is wrong Heath does not come across as mad, a genius emotionally distraught or any of the things that are needed for a villain to be memorable. He just comes as a two dimensional character with no real motive to do anything. While the ending does leave it open for a sequel I really do not think that we will be seeing this character again. Again he just comes across as boring. I know I keep saying that but that is really what everything in this novel is. Very boring.
Also the voices feel really disconnected from the character. This is of course slightly subjective, however even someone with a completely different view on Batman would agree that the lines written in this comic just do not sound like something Batman would say. This can sometimes be used well, if say you want it to be clear that Batman is not himself. However in this it is just horribly jarring and disconnects the reader from the comic. It is not just with Batman the problem also exists with Gordon and Detective Bulllock as well their lines feel really badly forced out of their mouth. Take for example Gordon’s reaction to the Jokers and their arrival. A officer with Jim’s experience would have squashed it straight off. Because he knows the damage done by the Joker, he shot Barbara for God sake, several times Jim had nearly killed the Joker. And he just lets it slide. I am sorry I do not buy that for one second.
This does present an interesting view to look at it. In that it could be viewed as something that is done by the younger generation. Maybe this could be set several years into the future with the Joker having disappeared and this is something that the younger generation just view as a laugh and a joke. But is being led by the Joker or a copycat and it then leads into the civil disturbances. However again this is never really explained or even really hinted at and again feels like a missed opportunity.
However the art is very good. I do like the cartoon style and it has a similar feel and look as that of The Batman TV series of which I am a huge fan of. The action does not feel confusing or static. It flows well and moves from one scene to another very well. The colors give a rich variety and great feel to Gotham and makes it feel more like New York than a more gothic city. However no matter how good the artwork is it can not hide what is a weak story line and bad scripting.
I would not pick this up unless your a real completest. Its not in continuity and so if not read, in my opinion, will not make you feel like you have missed anything at all. It suffers from David Hine’s apparent inability to write a convincing three dimensional character. Which again can be seen in his attempts to write Azrael as anything but a ludicrous character. The main participants feel thin and unreal and certainly not like any adaption I have read and enjoyed. The main villain, always the key to a Batman comic, in Heath is weak and two dimensional. His main reasons for his actions is while a clever idea, written very poorly and it does not make the reader care at all for his actions nor when he is finally taken down anything but relief that the comic itself is over.