Batman Tales: Once Upon a Crime by Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen

Batman Tales Once Upon a Crime


Goodreads: Batman Tales: Once Upon a Crime
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: 2020


Features retellings of classic tales starring Batman characters.

Star Divider


I tend to be more of a Marvel comics fan, but, in the interest of expanding my knowledge of the DC comics characters, I picked up  Batman: Once Upon a Crime.  It appeared to be cute and fun, which was what I wanted, rather than some dark, brooding tale of the Batman.  At least to start.  However, I am afraid that neither the stories nor the characters resonated with me.  I think you may already have to be an avid DC fan to appreciate this one.

Batman: Once Upon a Crime contains several retellings of classic stories and fairy tales, all featuring characters from the Batman comics.  For example, there is “Wayenochio,” featuring Damien Wayne as Pinnochio, a retelling of Alice in Wonderland starring Alfred as Alice, and a mystery centered around “The Princess and the Pea” (as well as “Jack and the Giant Beanstalk”).  There is also a retelling of “The Snow Queen” starring Batman, which differs from the rest in that it tends to feature full-page spreads rather than panels and tries to be evocative.

Usually, a successful retelling will reference the original story while successfully providing some sort of twist. In this case, the twist is that the characters are all Batman characters. So I would assume that there in some sort of in-joke there. For example, I think Alfred as Alice is supposed to be amusing because Alfred is an uptight butler who likes everything in its place, and he cannot stand the “mad” Wonderland. However, because I lack sufficient knowledge of the characters, the most I could really do was kind of go, “Oh, it’s Catwoman as the Cheshire Cat!” If there is any joke to this beyond the fact that they both are cats of some sort, I don’t know. So the stories did not make many successful allusions, for me.

I did hope that the stories themselves would be sufficiently interesting, and provide enough character development and background, that I could feel emotionally invested in the tales. However, this never happened. Mostly, I slogged through the book, feeling grateful it was short and soon end. I imagine readers who are already intimately familiar with the DC characters might feel differently. However, I cannot say that I would recommend this as a first read for those who are hoping to become fans.

3 Stars

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