Shiny Shelf


Batman: The Order of Beasts

By Mark Clapham on 21 July 2004

Anyone expecting an Eddie Campbell ‘Batman’ comic set in historic London to have a ‘From Hell’ level of intensity and complexity is going to be a bit disappointed by ‘The Order of the Beasts’. Anyone looking for an unusual and appealing comic, however, is going to have a lot of fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘From Hell’ and I like ‘Batman’ comics that are smart, complex and so forth. But I also appreciate comics like this, which manage to evoke the Golden Age while being more than just pastiche. Writer/artist Campbell, along with co-writer Daren White and lettering/digital finisher Michael Evans have created a rare prestige book unique and enjoyable enough to justify the high price tag.

‘The Order of the Beasts’ is set in London in 1939, where Bruce Wayne comes into contact with a secret society that has a murderer in its ranks. Batman must find the killer, and try and stop him. There’s a backdrop of the politics and prejudices of the time, but that’s pretty much it.

It’s a straightforward detective story with some characters in unusual costumes and a slightly gruesome undertone, the bread and butter of ‘Batman’ stories of the kind that kids enjoy, but without the censorship comics have sometimes suffered from. This pleasant tone, of being a slightly grim children’s story, is enhanced by Eddie Campbell’s delightful painted artwork, which combines the clarity of Golden Age comic book art with the delicacy of children’s book illustration. The historical setting is evoked with the expected precision, and Campbell uses atmospheric shading and angles to create a mood of suspense. The colouring is particularly fine, with gloomy washes of grey for the London skies and richer tones for the characters.

‘The Order of the Beasts’ demonstrates once again that Batman is a fantastic character with which great talents can tell creepy, exciting and fun stories in their own unique way.


Line Break

By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named markclapham.com.




Comments are closed.