Batman: Nightwalker: The Graphic Novel

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
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Action-packed graphic thriller spotlights young Bruce Wayne.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Graphic novel fantasy meant to entertain. But it might offer an opportunity to discuss wealth inequality.

Positive Messages

In the wake of tragedy, people can develop the skills to survive and prosper. Sometimes you have to resort to violence to protect the people and places you love. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Eighteen-year-old Bruce Wayne wants to put his billions to good use in the fight against crime. He is obsessed with the murder of his parents. He's brave, resourceful, impulsive. He fights injustice and protects the underdog.


Lots of fistfights, gunfights, robot fights. No one seems to be seriously hurt.


Bruce is fascinated by Arkham inmate Madeleine Wallace. They flirt and share a passionate kiss.


Some mild swearing, mostly "hell" and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Batman: Nightwalker is a graphic adaptation of a novel by Marie Lu (Warcross, Legend). The main plot is highly improbable, even for a superhero comic, in the way it allows an 18-year-old civilian to interact with a captured criminal. Gotham City is an ethnically diverse town, and there are people of color in various roles of authority. There are gunfights, fistfights, and general mayhem, but few characters are seriously injured. Swearing is infrequent and fairly mild ("hell," "damn"). Sexual content is limited to a passionate kiss, and there's no substance use.

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What's the story?

As BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL begins, teen billionaire Bruce Wayne pursues a criminal at high speed when the police seem to be losing the car chase. After the crash, Bruce submits to a probationary period to be spent doing janitorial work at Arkham Asylum. There he encounters the mysterious Madeleine, one of a gang of master criminals terrorizing Gotham's elite. Bruce is the only person she'll speak to, and so he's sent by the police to draw her out. But who's gathering information about whom? The more Bruce falls under Madeleine's spell, the more likely he is to be her next victim.

Is it any good?

The consequences of trauma are difficult to predict, but this bare-knuckles thriller cleverly shows how a hero is made, not born. With Batman: Nightwalker: The Graphic Novel, author Marie Lu clearly loves her Bat-lore and is having fun imaging Bruce Wayne's formative years. The book, however, miscalculates the appeal of its main villain. Madeleine has her interesting quirks, but she pales in comparison to most of the other antagonists in Batman's rogues gallery. The other Nightwalkers are mostly just ciphers.

Still, there's enough suspense generated to propel readers to the climactic confrontation, which is well choreographed and full of surprises. Stuart Moore neatly adapts the tale to the graphic novel medium, and Chris Wildgoose's art is vibrant, dynamic, and clear in its storytelling choices. Teen Batman still needs to grow up a bit, but Nightwalker is an intriguing look back.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Batman: Nightwalker addresses income inequality. Bruce Wayne has billions of dollars. Should he use some of them to make the city a better place?

  • Bruce is still traumatized by having witnessed the murder of his mother and father. How does trauma affect children? Where can they turn for help dealing with it?

  • What do you think of the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his butler, Alfred? Why doesn't Bruce follow his advice sometimes? Who in your life tries to guide you and keep you from danger or from making mistakes?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and superheroes

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