Review: ‘Batman & Robin Crime Scene Investigations’
This set of four hardcover storybooks makes up a new series in which the famous caped crimefighters use forensic investigation techniques to solve crimes. It’s a clever way to encourage scientific thinking and understanding the real-life background behind superhero adventures.
The Felon’s Fowl Flames: Batman & Robin Use Fire Investigation to Crack the Case
The Prints of Thieves: Batman & Robin Use Fingerprint Analysis to Crack the Case
The Spitting Image: Batman & Robin Use DNA Analysis to Crack the Case
The Trail of Tricks: Batman & Robin Use Footwear and Tire Tread Analysis to Crack the Case
Written by Steve Korte, illustrated by Dario Brizuela
Capstone Press, $27.99 each
Grade Level: 4-5
The subjects are well chosen: Fingerprints and footprints are classic mystery elements, while DNA keeps the heroes up-to-date and fire investigation provides a sense of danger. Aside from arson in that volume, the other crimes are robberies, so there isn’t excessive violence to worry about (although a guard is injured in The Spitting Image). A jewelry store is burgled, as are the library (rare books stolen) and zoo (animals taken).
Each page of the short volumes consists of a few sentences and an image that takes half the page. The art style is very much in keeping with the well-known cartoon versions, with a square-chinned Batman and a young Robin. Ace the Bat-Hound guest-stars in The Felon’s Fowl Flames. The villains turn out to be familiar characters as well.
It’s good to see that, when it comes to seeing women in these books about science, there is a recurring female police officer character, and she even gets to speak about the investigation in two of the books. The rest of the investigators, firefighters, and police are male. Most of the pages are taken up by focus on the title characters, though, so there wasn’t much space to include additional speaking roles.
The language is straightforward. There’s not much plot, but instead, the emphasis is on clearly explaining the investigation process, aided by “Fact” callout boxes. In each book, Batman tells Robin how to gather evidence and conduct experiments, walking through each process step-by-step.
Each volume concludes with a glossary, a list of additional facts, a bibliography, and an index. Kids inspired to learn more about the science of investigation will appreciate the clear presentation and the presence of well-loved heroes, and if they read one book, they’ll want to read them all.
Filed under: Reviews
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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