Those self-described idiots at MAD Magazine are at it again, this time riffing on the classic children’s story Goodnight Moon.
For those that don’t know, Goodnight Moon is a classic children’s picture book, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. Originally published in 1947, the simple story details a rabbit wishing everything in its room a good night before going to bed. To this day the book remains a perennial best-seller, and sits among other books such as The Giving Tree, Love You Forever, and Where the Wild Things Are as a prime example of great twentieth-century children’s literature.
That doesn’t mean it’s immune to homage and parody, however, and over the years the work has seen its fair share. Goodnight Batcave is simply the most recent example, and while it may not have been the first, it is certainly the Batmaniest.
If I can type it, it’s a word. So there.
The idea is simple: before Batman can catch some shuteye, he is beset upon by a group of his most infamous rogues. If he wants to get some sleep, Batman will have to work through his exhaustion and wreck some criminals one more time.
So he does.
The most shocking thing about Goodnight Batcave is how reverential it is, especially considering it’s a MAD publication. By no means is that a bad thing, mind you, as Dave Croatto’s script contains quite a few good laughs and is mostly successful in copping the necessary rhyme scheme and meter. What’s shocking is how utterly devoid of cynicism it is, which again, considering it’s from MAD, is quite surprising. Instead of riffing on tropes and making references that will soon be dated, Croatto delivers a simple, sweet story about a Batman who just wants to get to bed.
By cracking some heads.
It’s that respect for both source materials that will reward repeat readings, which is great considering the book’s length. Cover to cover, it runs a scant 27 pages and can easily be read in just a few minutes. Even if you were to stop and take in every detail on every page, it wouldn’t take much more than about five minutes from start to finish.
Thankfully, there are some great details hidden within.
The character designs alone are almost enough to recommend the book as a whole, as they look great. Borrowing heavily from the Animated Series aesthetic, almost every character looks absolutely fantastic. There are a few hints of the trademark MAD house style, such as a few elongated faces and some rather unbalanced anatomy, but overall Tom Richmond’s work looks great. If you’ve missed jester Harley, “Heart of Ice” Mr. Freeze, or even a Batman with trunks, this is the book for you. In fact, Richmond’s style is so great I’d dare say I’d gladly read a Batman book with him on penciling duty. It’s classic, energetic, and fits the tone of the book nicely.
Despite being a MAD publication, this is pretty safe for all ages. There’s maybe a slightly grotesque or exaggerated figure here and there, so it might be a bit much for the smallest of children, but anyone over the age of four or five should enjoy it no problem. It’s available both digitally and as a hardbound oversized book, and I cannot stress enough that you should buy a physical copy. Amazon has the print edition available for around $11, which is about par for the course with this type of book. Conversely, the digital copy is $9.99, which is incredibly steep considering the length. It’s a fun read, no doubt, but ten bucks is too much for so little material. If it ever drops in price, go for it, but for right now, invest in your physical library.
Overall: Fun, reverential, and wonderfully illustrated, Goodnight Batcave is a funny and surprisingly sweet tribute to both a classic children’s book and the Caped Crusader. Dave Croatto parodies the material while still being respectful, and Tom Richmond’s illustrations scratch a certain nostalgic itch. The price is a bit high, which knocks the score down just a bit, but for a fun and funny book that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike, Goodnight Batcave is a winner for sure. Now bring on more parodies, like The Very Hungry Killer Moth.