Insight Editions are renown for marrying amazing illustrations with a great depth and breadth of information. They make some of the finest pop culture reference books going. I’ve reviewed a few of them during my time at GeekDad, such as The Anatomy of a Metahuman, but I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed any as much as Exploring Gotham City.
What Is Exploring Gotham City?
It’s a large-format hardback of 50 pages, devoted to the locales and environs of Gotham City. It takes a look at all your favorite settings from the Batman universe, annotating them with information about the history of the stories. The book is filled with colored illustrations and will appeal to Batman fans of almost any age.
There are 22 locations described, including:
Gotham City!: A map of the city laid out with all the other interesting places described in the book.
The Batcave: The Batcave has 4 double-page spreads devoted to it, describing the Commander Level, the Hall of Trophies, the Garage, and the Hall of Armour.
Arkham Asylum: With notes on its history, design, and infamous residents.
Gotham City Police Department Headquarters: Jim and Barbara Gordon are introduced here, as are Renee Montoya and Harvey Bullock.
The Narrows: Who knew how many of Gotham’s vigilantes lived in this down at the heel part of town?
Blackgate Penitentiary: For all those villains for whom an implausibly designed gothic asylum just doesn’t cut the mustard.
The Gotham City Underground: Mentioned here because I love metro systems and was very excited to see Gotham’s Underground get its own double-page spread.
Why Read Exploring Gotham City?
This is a really fun book. I’m only a dabbler in Gotham City lore but this book is chock full of it. With so many strands of narrative to draw from, there’s plenty of fascinating information stored within its pages. I had no idea, for example, that Batman had quite so many Batcaves. To be honest, it’s a wonder half of Gotham hasn’t accidentally stumbled on to them. I also had no idea that the dynamic duo had their own subway train; parts of this book show that some comic book ideas are more than a little bit silly!
The book’s illustrations bring Gotham to life. It’s an engaging way for the novice to jump into the history of the city and the backstories of many DC characters. I’ve seen many Batvillains in other media, most notably the prolific and very tempting output of Knight Models, and this book offers a great opportunity to give these some context. It’s also a great way for seasoned DC readers to link their Gotham knowledge together in visual form.
Like all the Insight Editions I’ve reviewed, Exploring Gotham City is a beautifully put-together book. If you have a Batman fan in your life it will make the perfect gift. There is a fair amount of text in the book, but it is broken down into digestible chunks, meaning younger Batfans can enjoy it too, even if they just start by looking at the excellent pictures.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Exploring Gotham City you can do so here in the US and here, in the UK.
If you enjoyed this review do check out my other book reviews.
I received a copy of this book, in order to write this review.