Capstone has created several mash-ups of superhero science, using their licenses with DC characters to draw superhero fans into learning about physics, mythology, and more with their favorite superheroes. This latest series presents exciting Batman mysteries with forensic science, a natural team-up for the caped crusader.
Each mystery focuses on a different investigation technique. In The Prints of Thieves, Batman and Robin search for fingerprints at the scene of a burglary: the theft of valuable historical books from the library. With the help of science and Batman’s deductive technique, they quickly track down the criminal. In The Trail of Tricks, readers will be able to see how detectives use footprints and tire tracks to follow the path of criminals, and how Batman and Robin work together to track down the thief who stole hyena pups from the zoo. In The Felon’s Fowl Flames, Batman and Robin are joined by Ace, the Bat-hound, as they use various techniques to track down an arsonist. Finally, Batman and Robin investigate yet another burglary, but this time they use DNA evidence as well as several computer databases to bring justice to yet another criminal in The Spitting Image.
Each book contains additional information about the various techniques and science in inset boxes as well as further information and anecdotes, glossary, index, bibliography, and link to the publisher’s website with more information.
These are not, strictly speaking, graphic novels in that they are not laid out in panels and have only the occasional speech bubble. They are, however, fully illustrated short chapter books. Each spread contains full-page illustrations with a manageable chunk of text superimposed over it. While Batman does go into some fairly involved explanations of the science, especially in the book on using DNA evidence, there is a clear plot and mystery for each title. The art mimics the later volumes of Batman: The Animated Series, with Batman as a serious but not too grim detective and a younger Robin, Tim Drake, eagerly learning all his mentor’s science and skills. There are even a few fast-paced action sequences and, of course, plenty of trips to the lab featuring the image of Batman’s costume covered with a lab coat and face mask.
It’s easy to let this type of book degenerate into talking heads or a bland narrative of facts, but the popular characters and strong storylines keep these titles fun as well as educational. Sure to intrigue both Batman and science fans, these will be a great addition, especially to school libraries trying to encourage reluctant readers.
Batman and Robin: Crime Scene Investigations
by Steve Korta
Art by Dario Brizuela
Trail of Tricks
Prints of Thieves
Felon’s Fowl Flames
Publisher Age Rating: 7-12