batman_twofaceMost children encounter superheroes years before they are ready to read the comics versions. Multiple animated series for different age groups chronicle the adventures of Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, and more with marketing promotions generating dozens of toys each year. Now, DC Comics and Capstone Publishing have joined forces to help introduce young readers to the adventures of the dynamic duo with a series of illustrated prose stories in beginning chapter books, Batman and Robin Adventures.

Each short adventure focuses on a Batman nemesis; the Joker and Two-Face are the villains in the volumes reviewed here. Books featuring Scarecrow and Clayface are also available as part of the series. Harvey Dent escapes Arkham Aslyum in Two-Face Face-Off, leading the crime-fighting duo on a chase across Gotham to protect twin-themed treasures and recapture the fleeing criminal. In Joker’s Magic Mayhem, Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake are planning an evening enjoying a magic show at a recently renovated theater when the Joker crashes the party, threatening the Mayor of Gotham as well as a crowd of innocent theatergoers. Each volume features at least one full-page, brilliantly full-color illustration per chapter, capturing heroes and villains and helping to set the scene for the action.

Batman and Robin Adventures are well-suited for the lower elementary audience. At around 80 pages each, the stories are sized not to be intimidating to young readers, but long enough to provide a reading challenge for readers new to chapter books. Though the stories do feature descriptions of moderate violence as the caped crusaders fight the criminal elements, it is understated in the text and not seen in any of the illustrations. It is unlikely that the stories would be frightening for most audiences, and there is no adult language or hints of sexual themes. Readers in the know will catch references to other Batman characters in the text, but certainly the stories stand alone as action adventures. It is worth noting that the authors make a point of including characters of both genders in their stories. While obviously the main characters are male, female characters play important roles in both stories. The Gotham Police Department has female officers, and there are female henchmen (henchwomen?) working on the criminal side. The Mayor of Gotham city is a woman, and the magician’s female assistant is vital to helping Batman and Robin defeat Joker. The superhero genre is often criticized for a lack of strong female representation, and it is good to see women represented in these young reader adventures.

The publisher rates the reading level of Batman and Robin Adventures as appropriate for grades 2-3, with an interest level for grades 2-6. Each book includes a glossary, discussion questions, and writing prompts which could make them useful for classrooms or enrichment activities. The fast-paced action and short chapters are good for beginning or struggling readers, and the superhero versus villain adventures are likely to appeal to some reluctant readers. The short stories and bright illustrations would also work well for read aloud programs. The Batman and Robin Adventures are fun, accessible, and provide a new venue for appreciating these fan favorite characters. The series would be an excellent addition to collections for young readers.

Batman and Robin Adventures: Two-Face Face-Off
by Laurie S. Sutton
Art by Luciano Vecchio
ISBN: 9781496525352
Stone Arch Books, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 7-12 years

Batman and Robin Adventures: Joker’s Magic Mayhem
by J. E. Bright
Art by Luciano Vecchio
ISBN: 9781496525420
Stone Arch Books, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 7-12 years

  • Beth Rogers

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Beth Rogers is Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Outreach at the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library at West Virginia Wesleyan College, where she has worked to introduce and develop the library’s graphic novel collection. Also a part-time lecturer in English, Beth has taught courses on graphic novels for college students, lead book discussions on graphic novels including Watchmen and American-Born Chinese, and guest lectured on superheroes in American culture. She also maintains a book review blog, Do I Wanna Read THAT?!?!? When she’s not working, Beth enjoys action movies, knitting wee Avengers, and spoiling her dog.

Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!