The Batman Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual by Scott Beatty – ★★★★★ – 5 Stars

Lockdown has been a transformative time for many people. Why shouldn’t it also be a transformative time for me? Into Batman?

Ever since I can remember, I have loved comedy books that take their subject matter seriously. As a child, I absolutely devoured The Zombie Survival Guide, How To Survive A Robot Uprising, How To Drive a Tank, and countless others – but the king of them all was The Batman Handbook. You see, the other thing that I have loved ever since I can remember is the idea that I might someday be Batman, and with this book on my shelf, that dream lives on even as I hurtle towards my 30’s.

On the topic of deadpan comedy guides, this is one comedy book that has no jokes – it is only funny because it takes its absurd subject matter so seriously. Written like a love letter to the Batman mythos by graphic novel writer and Gotham-city regular Scott Beatty, the disclaimer at the beginning points out that this Ultimate Training Manual provides “the most accurate real-world information available to aspiring caped crusaders”. It does – and you can tell throughout the read that this guy absolutely loves what he is getting to do here. He consults with medics, police officers and forensics specialists, martial artists, stuntmen, special effects gurus, firefighters, gymnasts, engineers, psychologists, and even a boomerang manufacturer to help with crafting the legendary Batarang, and he brings their knowledge to the fore with a guide that starts with its reader’s origin story, and takes us all the way to the climactic showdown with the villain of the week.

Beginning with the basics of crafting your costume, building your utility belt, making your bat-signal and delivering it to police headquarters, and fitting out your secret base, the book then goes on through which martial arts a caped crusader should learn, how to use a grappling hook, how to make stunt jumps in your Batmobile, and on through much more esoteric but hero-critical skills, like how to win a whip-fight or how to maximise your chances of survival when leaping from a tall building.

It even addresses the elephant in the room by explaining how Batman does things, and then giving tips and advice for the masked vigilante on a budget, for those of us who aren’t billionaires. My Batmobile budget is pretty thin – it pretty much stretches to a superheroic used Fiat 500, maybe painted black if I can wrangle up some spray paint, and that’s it, so the advice on Batcave construction and utility-belt shopping on a budget is very much appreciated here.

So, think long and hard about what you want out of life. What are your dreams? No, not “making regional manager” or “travelling the world”. What are your real dreams?

Do you ever catch yourself daydreaming about rappelling down buildings, or using your brilliant detective skills to foil a serial killer, or building a bulletproof crime-fighting vehicle in your garage?

Have you ever wanted to know how to take down a roomful of goons? Could you train a sidekick? Do you wish you had the mental fortitude to resist being hypnotised?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then you could potentially be the next Batman.

I picked up my copy in the ancient times, in 2005, when all you had to do to unlock the secrets of the Dark Knight was walk into a Waterstones and wander over to the humour section. It’s out of print now, but I’d argue that if you can’t find a copy, you weren’t cut out to be Batman in any case. The life of a costumed crime fighter is full of tests, and sadly this is just the first of them.

Maybe I’ll see you on the rooftops one of these nights. We can team up to save the world.

Author: Gerry Sloan

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Gerry Sloan was first discovered in the Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland in 1991 and is hopefully still alive. He now lives in Liverpool with his wife, their puppy, and the confused ghost of a small bearded dragon.

In his spare time, Gerry is an archer, reader, and paranoid, can-hoarding doomsday survivalist. He can be found plotting in the woods outside your town, or on Twitter.

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