By Bob Kane & Various (DC Comics)
For anyone who’s read more than a few of these posts, my tastes should be fairly apparent, but in case you’re in any doubt, here’s an up-front summation: I’m that shabby, crazy old geezer muttering at the bus-stop about how things were better before, and all new things are crap and not the same and…
You get the picture. Now, ignore all that. It’s true but it isn’t relevant.
Batman Chronicles is another re-presentation of the earliest Batman stories in the original order they came out. Starting with “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” from Detective Comics #27, every story is reprinted up until #38, which introduces Robin, The Boy Wonder, and then Batman #1 in its entirety, featuring The Cat (who later added the suffix ‘Woman’ to her name to avoid confusion), Hugo Strange and the first and second appearances of the Joker.
These early stories set the standard for comic superheroes. Whatever you like now, you owe it to these stories. Superman gave us the idea, but writers like Bill Finger and Gardner Fox refined and defined the meta-structure of the costumed crime-fighter. Where the Man of Steel was as much Social Force and wish fulfilment as hero, Batman and Robin did what we wanted to do. They taught bad people the lesson they deserved.
Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and their compatriots created an iconography that carried the strip well beyond its allotted life-span until later creators could re-invigorate it. They added a new dimension to children’s reading. And their work is still captivatingly readable.
One final thing. I’m that guy in paragraph one, right? I’ve read a lot of these stories many times, and in many formats, and I’d like to thank whoever decided that they should forego the glossy and expensive versions and print this time on newsprint-like paper, producing the same bright-yet-muted colour that graced the originals. More than anything else, this served to recapture the mood of the young Batman and of course, my poorly concealed inner child.
© 1939, 1940, 2005 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.