Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review of Batman From the Thirties to the Seventies

Book #50. Batman from the Thirties to the Seventies, edited by E. Nelson Bridwell. Hardcover collection.

This is a collection that I received as a gift from my parents in the early seventies, along with the companion Superman volume. I have moved many times over the four decades since, and have taken this volume with me everywhere I’ve lived.

There is an entertaining cross-section of stories from the various eras here, allowing the reader to experience the evolution in both storytelling and art that occurred in the first 30+ years of comic book publishing. There are crime stories in the collection, as well as science-fiction, silly stories, and gothic horror. Robin arrives during this volume, as do Alfred, Bat-Woman, Bat-Girl, and Bargirl. Those last two are actually different people. Lesser known characters Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat-Hound also appear. Many of the important Batman villains are represented here, with the major exception being Catwoman.Another of my favorite characters, Man-Bat, is sadly not included.

The books opens with a glossy, colored reprint of Batman’s debut in Detective Comics, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate.” Emily and I discussed this story on a podcast episode, which can be found here. . A 1957 Batman-Superman team-up story, featuring the heroes taking on the team of Joker and Lex Luthor, is another of my favorite stories in the collection.

But the vast majority of the book is not colored, with that treatment reserved for a handful of short sections presenting comic book covers, as well as a few pages of story. As a child, I did not appreciate the black-and-white stories that are in this book, but over the years my appreciation for the artistic aspects of comic books has grown, and I am more able appreciate that aspect of the form.

As part of the Batman’s 75 anniversary year, a Year forBatman, I was very glad to have revisited this volume, and to have re-experienced these collection of interesting and influential stories from the characters first 30+ years.   

Source: the bookcase in the family room

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