About a year after the 80th Anniversary of Superman’s birth into comicdom, DC’s tribute its other favorite son will be released. Much like The Man of Steel’s anthology, The Caped Crusader’s collection includes a series of comics from over the years and short essays by the writers and artists who have helped create the mythos over the decades. These short pieces share personal memories and overall thoughts on Batman’s legacy and his connections to American culture.
#27, 30, 38, 66, 140. The introduction of The Batman, Robin, Two-Face, and The Riddler. These examples from The Golden Age serve to introduce the reader to a character who at this point is mostly a sleuth and do-gooder. I found this section a great look back at the origins of the art style, the allies, and the villains. My grandmother did not keep a huge stash of my father’s comics, but I remember one book from the early 50s that contained a Riddler story. I have great memories of stealing away in the sunroom to read through these books growing up.
The turning point of this collection in design and content is at #400, “Challenge of the Man-Bat.” We see a break away from standard panelling and a real evolution of the motivations of the villains and the mission of The Batman himself. At this point the writers start to turn the camera both inward to Batman’s own psychological issues and outward to comment on social issues in America. From here, the franchise grows and with it the audience.
This collection forced me to reflect on my relationship with The Dark Knight. Why has he retained his popularity for so many years? Why do I follow him more closely than Superman? I believe I am like most people in that I appreciate his humanity, his pain, and his dark and brooding demeanor. This won’t be a debate on Superman vs Batman because there have been just too many of those over the years, but I do find myself drawn to Batman, and this book helps to verify that.
Like Superman’s anniversary edition last year, this is another awesome tribute to one of the titans of the comic world.
4 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley, DC, and the many artists and writers who contributed to this book for the advanced copy for review.