When people ask “what is the greatest car in pop culture?”, you might get a few different answers. The ECTO-1 is pretty awesome, as are KITT and the Delorean from Back to the Future.
There is only one correct answer, though, and that is the Batmobile.
But which Batmobile?
From comics to television to movies and video games, Batman has consistently had the sweetest ride of any character in all of fiction. That’s quite impressive, considering it originated as nothing more than a red convertible… which is still pretty cool, come to think of it.
But now? Now the Batmobile is synonymous with “sweet ride,” to the point that pretty much everyone has a personal favorite and, given the chance, would like to own one.
While the latter could prove to be difficult, Insight Editions have the next best thing: the Batmobile Manual, detailing all of Batman’s cars, and some of his other cool vehicles too. So fasten your seatbelts, prime the atomic batteries to power, and get the turbines to speed as we dive in and take a look at all of Batman’s sweet rides.
Written by Daniel Wallace and with some pretty stellar illustrations from Lukas Liszko, Batmobile Manual is over 200 pages of pretty comprehensive Batmobiles and other Bat-vehicles. From the aforementioned red convertible to the car driven by Robert Pattinson’s Batman in last year’s The Batman, there’s a lot of Batman’s history covered here, with some pretty surprising inclusions.
While some of the cars and other modes of transportation are grouped together in ways that make sense (the 1966 Batmobile and Batboat are paired together, and a string of Batmobiles from the comics follow one another), there isn’t much of an overall flow to the book. That’s not really a bad thing, really, it’s just kind of odd: the first Batmobile in the entire book is the Tumbler from the Dark Knight Trilogy, which is kind of weird because it’s a really unconventional “car.” It’s even called “The Experimental Batmobile” in the text, so why they didn’t start off with, say, the 1989 Anton Furst Batmobile or even with the earliest models from the comics, I don’t know.
Doesn’t matter, though, because this book is a fantastic resource from cover to cover. Wallace’s writing is descriptive without being dry, interjecting fun little bits here and there like a memo from Lucius Fox or a breakdown of the work that went into mechanic Earl Cooper’s Animated Series Batmobile.
Each car represented has at least a few great-looking 3D models from Liszko, with each one maintaining the overall aesthetic of the respective property and medium despite everything being rendered in the same general style. That is to say, the ’89 Batwing looks like a live-action Batwing, while the Animated Series Batwing looks like it’s from a cartoon. Both look great regardless, as do the rest of the vehicles in the book.
There are really cool X-ray diagrams of quite a few different vehicles, giving us a look inside different cars to see how the engines and transmissions are situated under the hood, along with more interesting details like where bombs are stored or how tire-slashers can come out of hubcaps. What’s really fun is seeing how Wallace and Liszko try to explain away the more ridiculous tricks that various Batmobiles can pull off, like how the Batman Forever car has rockets on the bottom so it can grapple up walls, the various transformations that the Batman: The Brave and the Bold Batmobile can go through, and a pretty detailed and almost believable breakdown of the “Batmissile” from Batman Returns.
It does make sense that live-action films and television series get most of the focus, as they have real vehicles to use as a point of reference, but I do wish that more time was spent on the Batmobiles from the comics. After all, Batman is first and foremost a comic character, and he’s driven some sort of vehicle since his very first appearance in Detective Comics #27. Still, I was pleasantly surprised at just how many different vehicles are featured, like classic Batmobiles with the cool “bat-head” battering rams, and my personal favorite: the Whirly-Bat. The idea of the book may have grabbed my attention, but seeing that won my heart.
Could more vehicles have been included? Sure. The ’66 Batcycle and Batcopter are notably absent, as are Robin’s Redbird car and motorcycle from the comics and the movie Batman & Robin, respectively. It would have been nice to see the Batskiboat and Penguin Duck from Batman Returns too, or the Jokermobile and Catmobile from the Sixties television series. Regardless, there’s plenty of content here to satisfy fans of Batman, and the already impressive number of included vehicles have more than enough great details for some pretty substantial reading.
Let’s just hope a volume two is planned for the future, because there are more Batvehicles to see.
Overall: One of the cooler and more unique books out there, Batmobile Manual covers comics, movies, TV, and more to shine a light on the most famous and greatest fictional vehicle ever created. While there are some omissions that could have made a great book even better, all of the vehicles that “should” be featured are here, along with quite a few others that are pleasant surprises. When the main complaints I have are “I wish there were more” and “it isn’t organized the way I would have done it,” you know you’ve got yourself a pretty great book here.
Disclaimer: Insight Editions provided a copy of this book for review.
Fun Jug Media, LLC (operating Batman-News.com) has affiliate partnerships with various companies. These do not at any time have any influence on the editorial content of Batman News. Fun Jug Media LLC may earn a commission from these links.