Batman and The Mad Monk
The story begins moments after The Monster Men volume ends. The series time line fits between Year One and The Long Halloween. Both the artwork and story combine elements from both of these artists beautifully bridging the gap between the different story arcs. That's my favorite part about this series is that it attaches itself with references and style to two of the better Batman story lines.

Like The Monster Men we are introduced to a new villain dressed in red and claiming to be a vampire. The Mad Monk has been bleeding victims dry while slowly but surely recruiting new members to his evil brotherhood. Batman is on the case using his detective skills to try and find the true identity of this other creature of the night.

Batman is also awkwardly refining his communication with the struggling Gordon. The two are slowly but surely creating a concrete friendship that both need in order to bring light to Gotham. One of the best scenes in the comic is when dirty cops have Gordon surrounded. Gordon fights them off as best as he can but is soon over taken by their numbers. Batman comes to the rescue just in time. The inner dialogue as Gordon watches the Dark Knight thrash the cops is awesome.

On top of the bloodless victims and evil monks Batman is also dealing with the mob in an entirely unrelated story line. Maroni and Carmine are never far from the pages as a shipment of heroine goes missing. As Batman juggles the events in these pages he is faced with the blunt truth that maybe it's him that is the cause of the theatrics criminals are now taking.

Although not the end of the series, this volume ties a satisfying tourniquet to Batman's relationship with Julie and her powerful father Mr. Madison.

In the vein of Frank Miller Batman takes on a barrage of brutal beatings and heavy blood loss. Broken ribs and heavy lacerations promise an exciting ride into another chapter of the Batman saga. There will be blood.

Reviewed by: shea