Crack the case with Batman and the Bat-Family! Batman’s Mystery Casebook by Sholly Fisch and Christopher Uminga is part graphic novel, part whodunit and all Batman. In this all-ages book, young readers are invited to examine evidence, answer riddles and look for clues to solve the case alongside the World’s Greatest Detective and his friends.
While this book is clearly written with middle graders in mind, you don’t have to be a kid to learn something new from this collection of cases and crimefighting. Read on for five things I found out when I joined Batman and family on the hunt for clues in Gotham City.
Forensics was established as a field only about 100 years ago.
Physical evidence established by forensics was pioneered by French scientist Edmond Locard. His 1920 theory that perpetrators leave behind traces of evidence at a crime scene on what they touch might seem like common sense now, but it was an innovation at the time. The concept even has a name: Locard’s Exchange Principle. Fingerprints, hairs, clothes fibers and even the dirt on a shoe all leave evidence. If you love seeing Batman run tests on evidence in the Batcave—and who doesn’t—you have Locard to thank.
You can turn 2 into 10 if you know how.
No, this isn’t a magic trick or one of the Riddler’s riddles—although Batman’s Mystery Casebook has a lot of those, too! A vital clue leads to a quick lesson in how to count in binary given by the Dark Knight himself. Binary is a counting system that’s used by computers. Numbers are counted in combinations of 1s and 0s. 0 is 00, 1 is 01, and 2 is 10. Now, which Batman villain would appreciate a counting system that uses only two numbers?
You might know what latent fingerprints are. But what about patent prints?
If you’ve spent any time watching a popular police or crime investigation show, you’re probably familiar with the forensics team investigating “latent” prints. Latent prints are the fingerprint evidence left by people at the scene that aren’t readily visible—black fingerprint powder reveals them for highly dramatic moments. But what are patent prints?
Batman’s got the answer. Patent fingerprints are the ones you can see with the naked eye, like the dirt or food your kids probably leave on the refrigerator. And mirrors. And windows. And walls. And…
Some World War I flying aces were called “balloon busters.”
It sounds like something that would only happen in a comic book, but a small number of fighter pilots in World War I were tasked with knocking giant balloons from the sky. These observation balloons were deployed by the German army for key surveillance and tactics over battlefields. A soldier in a basket under the stationary balloon used a transmitter to call in targets. Obviously, they made huge targets themselves, so the balloons were heavily guarded on ground and in the air.
Balloon busters were the fighter pilots who destroyed the hydrogen-filled balloons despite their significant defenses. While the defending German pilot in Batman’s Mystery Casebook, Enemy Ace, is fictional, the balloon busters were very real.
There’s a hidden Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.
We didn’t believe it either, but lesson learned—never doubt Batman. In another fascinating Batcave Crime Lab, Batman shares the secrets of uncovering forgeries from mimicking handwriting to printing fake bills.
The U.S. ten dollar bill has Founding Father Alexander Hamilton smiling front and center. But there’s a second, secret Hamilton on the bill, reveals Batman. Hold the bill to the light and look on the side. Hamilton appears like a ghost! Well, more accurately, like a watermark. Not only is it a neat trick, but it’s also a trustworthy test for a counterfeit bill.
Batman’s Mystery Casebook is a fun-filled, fact-filled graphic novel with something for everyone. If your heroes when you were little included Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew, be sure to borrow this amazing graphic novel from your kids. At the very least, you’ll have a new party trick to show off by asking someone, “Did you know there’s a ghost on the ten dollar bill?”
Batman’s Mystery Casebook is now available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and as a digital graphic novel.
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Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DCComics.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.