Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight #1
DC Comics (November, 1989; as posted to comiXology)
“Shaman” book 1
WRITER: Dennis O’Neil
PENCILER: Ed Hannigan
INKER: John Beatty
COLORIST: Richmond Lewis
LETTERER: John Costanza
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Kevin Dooley
EDITOR: Andrew Heifer
In the arctic Bruce tags along with a great bounty hunter to see how he operates. The man is killed by the target they’re pursuing, who is accidentally tossed off the mountain in a fight with Bruce. Without supplies, Bruce is lucky to be rescued by a local tribe, who heal him, believing a story about the bat trying to cure his friend the raven grew his wings. He’s asked to keep the story a secret. Returning to Gotham his training is over and it’s time to begin. His first night of crimefighting goes poorly until, inspired by a bat crashing through the window and remembering the old story Bruce first takes on the identity of the Batman. In his next attempt he visits a doctor Leslie Thompkins, whose free clinic has been robbed before and is in the process of being so again. Batman scares off the crooks but one of the patients is in such fear of Batman that she kills herself, leaving a confused hero to wonder why.
What they got right: While he didn’t need this “healing story” added to the backstory I have to admit it’s an interesting little story, and the presentation visually is stunning. Bruce returns and we see him fail as himself but succeed as Batman. I’m guessing (because I don’t have the follow-up issues in any form) that this is where he learns to temper how fearful he comes off as to the people he’s trying to help, as well as how he meets Dr. Thompkins, who will be one of his allies until DC screwed that up many years later.
What they got wrong: Leaving in the part about Selina Kyle being a prostitute (thanks, Frank Miller), which wasn’t even important to the story. She is only mentioned in passing and really didn’t need to be. I haven’t read Year One, nor do I plan to, but did he even know her name?
What did I think overall: It’s a decent story of Batman’s last training session before beginning his career. Worth a read for that but not really something I’d go crazy tracking down. I’m not even sure of its current canonicity in light of all the soft and hard reboots since.