Saturday, September 7, 2013
My local store was having a buy-two-get-one-free sale on trades and I used it to liberate the three volumes of Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams seen above. It's probably no stretch to say that Neal Adams was the most important artist of the Bronze Age of Comics. His artwork transformed how the comic book was seen by the broader world as he brought a thoroughly sophisticated illustrative style to his powerful pages.
And as much as I adore his Deadman work, as much fame as his Green Lantern material deserves, it's clearly his work on Batman which really elevates his name in the annals of comic artists. Few who venture here will not know that Batman had gone from languishing title mired in often tedious sci-fi plots back to its crime-ridden roots when the TV show made the name a pop touchstone for generations. But it was Neal Adams who took that revived character of the night and made him truly awesome in the full sense of that word.
Adams made Batman heroic and dashing, but also very very scary. That palpitating feel of real blood and guts which permeated the pages made the Batman more real than any superhero then on the stands. As wonderfully effective as an Irv Novick story could be, it was always a special surprise to find that Adams had done the story underneath the usually awesome cover. It was a treat, and one not regular enough to make it lose its zest.
Adams for all his magnificence as an artist was just slow enough that he didn't spoil his audience. He did more than Jim Steranko who produced gems only rarely, but not so much as John Buscema who was the gift that gave and gave and gave. I was struck in these tradepaper collections that apparently I started reading Batman stories at just about the same time as Adams began to draw them, so I was one of the lucky ones who got to enjoy his talent in its full glory in real time.
I have many of these stories in other formats, many in the original still, but it's very neat to have the whole of the Adams Batman at my fingertips. What I don't already own are some of the rarities included like the Power Record books. These are really significant stories in the vast scheme of comics lore, these comics changed the way things were done, the way things were seen. These are important.