Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Fifties Related "Brave and The Bold" News

I've posted before about how great the "Batman: The Brave and The Bold" cartoon is, and I'll be able to give you more concrete evidence when I review the Bat-Mite episode this Friday. Until then, I give you some news from Comic-Con that made the fifties Batman fan in me want to shake the crew's hands even more:

Tucker later told us that the episode would be an adaptation of a comic where Bruce Wayne discovered that his father had also worn a Batman costume at some time in the past, before telling us that the show will also be adapting the Batman of Zur En Arrh comic from the 1950s, but shying away from the revisionist retcon from last year's Batman RIP.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fifties Batman Blogging Elsewhere

Pat from the Silver Age Comics blog has started up a new series looking at the various aliens that went up against the Dynamic Duo. Sci-fi stories appeared here and there throughout the Golden and Silver Ages, but it is the Jack Schiff era of the late fifties and early sixties that most people associate aliens with Batman. Pat is going to be working backwards, starting in the first post with the significant stories from 1963-1964. You can check it out here. Pat also did an interesting post on the origins of the Silver Age Cat-Man a couple weeks back, who appeared in three Batman stories in the Silver Age.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"An Ode To Bat-Hound" By Mark Waid

I found this on The Captain's JLA Blog through Comic Book Resources. It was originally published in Amazing Heroes #102 from September 1st, 1986. I'm a big fan of Mark Waid's writing and this just made me moreso.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thoughts On The Batman: The Black Casebook TPB

For those who have not been following the current issues of Batman, let me catch you up to speed. When writer Grant Morrison began his run on Batman with issue 655 (his full run comprising 655-658 and 663-683), he decided to take a unique perspective on the Dark Knight: that every story from Batman's 70 year publishing history happened to him in a 15 year period. He would examine how that amount of stress would affect a person's mental state...and he would also dust off the wacky fifties concepts that many had chosen to neglect. He brought the sci-fi stories of the fifties and sixties back into Batman's canon, explaining that the Caped Crusader transcribed such unexplainable events into the Black Casebook. But more than bring the fifties back, Morrison modernized such characters as the Batmen of All Nations and Bat-Mite and made them part of the stories he told. For fifties Batman fans, each issue brought the excitement of what story Morrison would reference next. For those who were not so familiar with the era, some scratched their heads at where Morrison was pulling all of this from. Before nary an Amazon placeholder appeared, there was speculation across the internet of DC collecting the stories Morrison drew from for his run into one trade paperback. While it didn't come out until months after Morrison's run on the Batman title ended, the collection did indeed arrive back in June.

Alright, enough recap, let's talk about the collection. The cover design for it is simply perfect. The front cover sans the text looks what a journal owned by Batman would look like. The description for the collection on the back cover is designed to look like pen written on a sheet of lined paper, further adding to the journal feel. Dotted across the covers and spine are marks that make the collection look worn, just as the fictional Black Casebook would probably look after 15 years of use. As far as the paper between the covers, it is along the same lines as the paper used in the Batman In The Fifties trade paperback, but of higher quality. The table of contents has a nice touch to it with the word "Closed:" appearing before the issue in which the story originally appeared. Besides assembling in one place the stories that inspired Morrison's Batman run, the collection also includes a three page introduction by Grant Morrison where he explains why he chose the stories he chose to draw upon. As someone who read and enjoyed his run a great deal, it was quite interesting to get a glimpse into how he crafted it.

The stories collected are more scattered than the three annuals from the previous collection I reviewed, so I have compiled a list in the order they appear in the trade paperback:

"A Partner For Batman" from Batman #65
"Batman - Indian Chief" from Batman #86
"The Batmen of All Nations" from Detective Comics #215
"The First Batman" from Detective Comics #235
"The Club of Heroes" from World's Finest Comics #89
"The Man Who Ended Batman's Career" from Detective Comics #247
"Am I Really Batman?" from Batman #112
"Batman - The Superman of Planet X" from Batman #113
"Batman Meets Bat-Mite" from Detective Comics #267
"The Rainbow Creature" from Batman #134
"Robin Dies At Dawn" from Batman #156
"The Batman Creature" from Batman #162

Most of the stories collected have been reprinted before, although there are two or three that have not. In fact, the "Creature" stories had nothing to do with Morrison's Batman run, but he included them because he found the covers interesting.

The only nitpick I have about the collection is that in the spaces where house ads went in the original issues, DC has swapped them out for a Batman oval. The oval of course didn't appear until after the fifties era, and while it's a little annoying, I can overlook it.

With the high amount of already reprinted material, I can see how some fifties Batman fans may pass on this collection. Really, the collection is aimed more at the fans of Grant Morrison's Batman run who have never read this material than the already established fanbase. But with any luck, this collection will lead to a few new fifties Batman fans out there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Added To The Collection - Batman #s 233 and 254 and Batman Family #3

Hey folks, sorry about the lack of story reviews at the moment. I wisely decided to start blogging again while on vacation in Maine and surprisingly, I haven't had much time to devote to the longer story reviews. Not to worry though, as the weeks coming up will be packed full of story reviews from all across the fifties era. Today I thought I'd make a quick post about some reprint issues I recently picked up. Copies of the original issues, even those right before the New Look Era began, seem to have been going up in price lately. Since I've been able to acquire all of the 80 Page Giant Batman issues, I thought I'd turn my attention to the other Batman giants DC published featuring fifties reprints.

Batman #233 - This was a 64 page giant issue featuring stories with a focus on Bruce Wayne, such as "The Murder of Bruce Wayne" and "Bruce Wayne's Aunt Agatha". Maybe I should do a Bruce Wayne week sometime.

Batman #254 - This was a 100 page giant and an interesting one in that it featured a story from each decade Batman had been published in up to the 70s, when the issue was published. There was only one reason I wanted this issue, however, and it of course concerned the fifties era reprint. From Batman #145 and the year 1962 to be exact..."The Son of The Joker". I scoured eBay for weeks trying to pick up the original issue until I discovered that it had been reprinted in a much more affordable issue all along. It's a story featuring one of my favorite gimmicks from the fifties era, The Second Batman and Robin Team, and if you recall my hint last week, this is the gimmick I alluded to. I'll be reviewing a trio of Batman II and Robin II tales soon and having read "The Son of The Joker" already, I can say it has one of the greatest panels to ever be printed in a Batman comic.

Batman Family #3 - When it comes to Batman reprints, this issue's a home run as far as I'm concerned. You have the second appearance of Batwoman, the first appearance of Kite-Man, and a classic Golden Age Dick Sprang story in "The Year 3,000". And for the fans of Batwoman and Bat-Girl out there, not to worry, I will be giving them their due spotlight in the future; I just don't want to hit all of the major issues of the era too soon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thoughts On The DC Comics Classics Library: Batman - The Annuals Vol. 1 HC

After months of rumors, Amazon.com placeholders, and waiting, the DC Comics Classics Library: Batman - The Annuals Vol. 1 harcover arrived on April 22nd. Did it live up to the hype? Was it everything that fifties Batman fans across the internet hoped it would be? Of course it was, but let's examine the collection in a little bit more detail.

The hardcover is roughly the same size as an Archive edition, making it a perfect addendum to a line that will likely never feature fifties Batman reprints. The blue and yellow colors on the dustjacket work well together, as do the other elements in the dustjacket's design. The foreground of the front cover is an illustration done in the style of fifties Batman art by Rodney Ramos. Ramos does an excellent job paying homage to the era; in fact, Batman's pose is very similar to the Caped Crusader's on the splash page to the story "Batman The Magician," reprinted in the second annual. The background on the front cover features a rearrangement of the panels on the cover to the second annual and, along with the panels on theb back cover and interior flaps, is a nice sample of what the collection offers.

My favorite element to the dustjacket is one that may not jump out at first glance. The authors listed at the bottom of the front cover are thus: Bill Finger, Dick Sprang, and Sheldon Moldoff. The name of Bob Kane, who for so many years took sole credit for the work of so many creators, is not among them. Of course, none of his work appears in the reprints collected within, but still, I applaud DC Comics for giving credit to the creators who deserve it.

The features inside the book are more than just a reprinting of the annuals. The table of contents is near perfect, including correct creator credits and a sentence long summary of each story. The issues in which the stories originally appeared are absent, but they are referenced in the introduction that follows, provided by writer/producer Michael Uslan. Uslan is no stranger to Batman, having served as executive producer for the films Batman (1989), Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight, as well as writing the Batman newspaper strip and the Detective No. 27 graphic novel. The introduction follows the format of the Batman In The Fifties trade paperback, commenting on the stories being reprinting and making anecdontes and observations here and there. I was happy to see a feature I predicted months ago, a side by side comparison of the original and edited panels from the story "The New Crimes of Two Face," appear at the end of the introduction. There is also an afterward from Richard Bruning, the senior VP-creative director at DC Comics. The afterward is a reminisce from someone who was a kid when the annuals originally hit the stands and a nice note to end on, not counting the creator biographies that make up the real end of the collection.

As for the actual contents collected, c'mon, how can you go wrong? The three earliest, and hardest to find, Batman Annuals collected in one tome. The paper stock used is a heavy, non-glossy one perfect for the stories being collected. The colors in the stories have been reconstructed and look simply fantastic. I'm also happy to say that the extras included in the annuals, such as the "secrets of the utility belt and batarangs" page from the first annual and the pin-up calandar from the second annual, are reprinted along with the stories. The only minor negative to the reprinting is that the binding is semi-tight and there is a little bit of the page lost in the gutter, but it's not to such an extent that it takes away from the enjoyment of reading the stories. And speaking of enjoying the stories, nine of them feature Dick Sprang art. Like I said, how can you go wrong?

If you are a fifties Batman fan and have not yet picked up this collection, I can't recommend it enough. DC Comics pulled out all the stops to produce it and the result is the deluxe treatment that many fifties Batman fans have been clamoring for. And if the "Volume One" is any indication, DC doesn't plan on reprinting just the first three Batman Annuals.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Bat-Mite Blogger Returns!

No, seriously.

I know it's been a couple of months since the last time I said I was back, but this is not a dream, hoax, or an imaginary story. I'm back to blog about the weird, wacky, wonderful Batman stories of the 1950s. There have been a couple of big releases since the last time I posted and I'll be covering them all in the next few weeks. This Wednesday, I'll be giving my thoughts on the DC Comics Classics Library - Batman: The Annuals Volume 1 hardcover, with the reviews on Tuesday and Thursday coming from the collection. Next week will follow the same format as I take a look at the Batman: The Black Casebook trade paperback. The week after that will be a special one, as I finally complete Bat-Mite Month and review the Bat-Mite centric episode of the Batman: The Brave and The Bold cartoon, "Legend of The Dark Mite". I'll then close out July with a look at one of my favorite Batman gimmicks from the early 1960's. Here's a hint: II.

That's a glimpse at what's coming up this month. I Believe In Bat-Mite is back and I hope to make it better than ever.