Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight - Ralph Cosentino 

Viking

According to all reports, the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight," takes its title to heart, proving too bleak and sinister for younger audiences. Instead, the tots can get their fix of the caped crusader via a new, 32-page picture book written and illustrated by toy designer Ralph Cosentino.

With a cover that apes Batman's 1939 debut in "Detective Comics" #27, "Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight" is a stripped-down, super-slim retelling of his origin, sidestepping any depiction of the murders of Bruce Wayne's parents. It also introduces such seminal elements of the Batcave, the Batmobile and the rogue's gallery of villains, including The Joker, The Penguin, Catwoman and Two-Face.

The hardcover is intended for the hands of 4- to 8-year-olds, but people like me aren't about to let its pages be sullied by their peanut butter-smeared fingers. With (brave and) bold colors and character designs that rival those of the acclaimed cartoon series of the Nineties, this book is something of a pop-art masterpiece.

Cosentino needs to take artistic control of some of DC Comics' titles for younger readers, stat.

"?Rod Lott

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