Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review of The Caped Crusade

Book 25. The Caped Crusade, by Glen Weldon. Unabridged audio.

This book takes a look at Batman’s popularity throughout the character’s first 75 years of history. The author looks at Batman’s history in comics, TV, & movies, using aspects of this history to comment on larger societal themes. The regular changes in Batman’s approach over the years, from dark to light and back again, are analyzed to see if his story has can tell us something about ourselves.

The book is thorough, looking at every aspect of what Batman has been over the years: a pulp-inspired detective; a planet-hopping hero a campy Pop-art sensation; and a grim and dark ninja of the urban night. The comprehensiveness of the book helps it move briskly, as there is not enough time to dwell too long on one aspect of Batman before the next one comes.

As a “comic book guy,” I was glad that Weldon included as much (probably more) about the comic book aspects of Batman as he did the movies and TV shows. Discussions of the important roles played by Bill Finger, Carmine Infantino, Dennis O’Neill, and Frank Miller are all included. The excellent animated series, created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, is also covered in depth.

Weldon does a good job keeping the book light and breezy, despite its semi-academic purpose. Even if one is familiar with most of the underlying material, there are plenty of opportunities to learn a few new things.

Note: The author does the narrating for the audio version of this book, and he does an excellent job providing a range of voices for many of the people who appear in the book, including Grant Morrison, Chris Nolan, Christian Bale, and a generic “comic book fan.”

Source: public library

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