Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book #36

The Official Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes, vol. 1, Batman, by Michael Fleisher. Paperback.

In the late 1960's, Michael Fleischer nabbed his dream job -- full access to the DC Comics archives of every comic they had ever produced, with the intent of writing an encyclopedia-style series of books on DC heroes. It took nearly a decade, and the Batman Encyclopedia was the first that was produced, in 1976. I read the 2007 reprint.

The book is simply put, impressive. Covering the first 30 years of Batman "history" -- the only gimmick in the book is that Fleisher treats his work as an actual historian would, referring to the issues as "texts," for example -- every aspect of Batman and his world are covered. Long entries on Alfred, Catwoman, Vicki Vale, Robin and the Joker are mixed in with smaller entries about criminals that may have appeared in one issue in 1957.

Admittedly, reading the book from start to finish is a bit like reading a "real" encyclopedia from start to finish. It's a research book, a reference book; Let's just say there is no narrative flow to the work.

But I am glad I read it - I am interested in Golden and Silver Age comics, and a book like this cetainly covers the era, as far as batman goes. There is nothing about the character from that era that I feel I'm missing. There are Superman and Wonder Woman volumes in the series, that I plan to pick up later in the year.

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