Saturday, March 5, 2016
I've never been all that big of a Batman fan, though I like the character fine and I enjoy him. I thought the recent trilogy of Batman movies by Christopher Nolan were smashing and smart. But there was a time when I fell in love with the Dark Knight. In 1971 I'd been reading comics for several years, almost exclusively Marvel after dabbling in whatever I could find before (Charlton, DC, Archie, etc.). For reasons I've forgotten, I became interested in DC that year and started getting Justice League, the Superman comics, and assorted other titles.
But I really came to be exceedingly interested in Batman as rendered by Neal Adams. This was a more potent hero than I'd seen before when I'd sampled Batman some years before. Adams had drawn some issues of The Brave and the Bold, but still his rendition now seem leaner and meaner than any hero I'd stumbled across to that point.
And then there was the artwork of Irv Novick, to my mind the most underrated Bat-artist ever. Novick's Batman has all the virtues of the Adams version and Novick adds some stellar rock-solid storytelling. With art from Bob Brown, Novick locked down the Bat books along with Adams who showed up for covers and the occasional issue.
Adams is well remembered from this era, which introduced criminal mastermind Ra's Al Ghul and his fetching daughter Talia. Here was a villain with serious heft, worthy of Batman, not some gibbering clown looking to hoodwink the cops, but a man with a deeper and darker agenda. Great stuff!
Also spread among these issues are several stories by Frank Robbins who also supplied some artwork for Detective Comics. Many reject the art of Robbins, finding him to idiosyncratic for mainstream work, but I've always fancied it and his Batman stories have panache unlike any before or since.
Here are the issues which imprinted Batman for me. He's a hero larger than any fan's perception of him, but for me this is THE Batman.
Enjoy the covers, presented here in the order in which the stories occur in the Showcase volume. There are a few juicy ones of reprint material but the covers are here all the same.