I’m not much of a manga fan. I don’t like a lot of the artwork, and reading right to left always throws me. However, I’m willing to give one a try every now and then when it looks interesting, and as you can see from the cover, if you’re a Batman fan like me, this definitely looks interesting.
And as it turns out, BATMAN: DEATH MASK is a really good graphic novel. The story finds Bruce Wayne getting involved with a somewhat shady Japanese industrialist and winds up with Batman embroiled in an action-packed plot featuring murder victims who have their faces sliced off, a Japanese ceremonial mask with an ancient curse on it, a beautiful young woman who’s a dead ringer for one of Bruce Wayne’s old lovers, flashbacks to Bruce’s martial arts training in Japan before he becomes Batman, evil secrets from the past rising up to menace the present like something out of a Ross Macdonald novel, and a bunch of American gangsters. Whew. As you can tell, the pace in this story never slows down much. I even got used to reading backwards.
The story and art are by Yoshinori Natsume. Needless to say, I’d never read any of his work before. But I certainly would again, especially if it was another Batman graphic novel, because DEATH MASK is one of the best Batman yarns I’ve read in quite a while.