Saturday, September 8, 2012

Review- BATMAN ILLUSTRATED BY NEAL ADAMS VOL. 1

BATMAN ILLUSTRATED BY NEAL ADAMS VOL. 1 (DC, 2012; Softcover)
Collects The Brave and the Bold No. 79, 80, 82-85 and World's Finest Comics Nos. 175, 176 (cover dates May, 1968- September, 1969)
Writers: Bob Haney, Carey Bates, and Leo Dorfman
Artists: Neal Adams with inking by Carmine Infantino, Vince Colletta, Joe Kubert, and Dick Giordano.
I've read some of Neal Adams' later Batman stuff and loved it, but could never bring myself to buy the three hardcovers of his run. DC allowed him to not only re-color everything with modern computer coloring, but actually redraw and/or re-ink it all as well. These are, at best, commissions of his classic run. Once in a while a real page will get through, or he'll leave a story's color palette alone, but by and large this is an abomination. It's even worse than George Lucas screwing around with Star Wars, because at least Lucas didn't obliterate the original films. Plus, the original theatrical versions are available in the DVD sets, so you get both. Here, you get Adams rewriting redrawing history. These are the versions that current and future generations will first experience, and this makes me sad.
I view comic books as art. I believe that it is the responsibility of publishers to preserve this art for the ages, as closely as possible, to the original publications. I'm not talking line bleed and dots, I'm talking faithful remasterings of the linework and original color palette. These bastardized renditions are the ones that the iPad generation will first encounter. Poor kids. 
The stories in and of themselves are mediocre. Adams was just starting to come into his own by the end of this book, so his artwork lacks the polish that he would soon achieve. The writing was pretty cheesy, being firmly planted in early Silver Age DC goofiness. DC seemed so square when compared to Marvel at this time. Marvel was the voice of the revolution, while DC was the voice of the over 30 crowd trying to be with it. This would soon change, as Adams was the vanguard of the counterculture that would overrun the company and usher in a creative renaissance in the '70s.
 I picked this up because I got it at a deep discount, and will likely pick up Volumes 2 and 3 in softcover if I can get them on the cheap. I've seen all three hardcovers at conventions in half-off boxes for years, and still couldn't bring myself to buy them.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Where to begin? Woe to DC for allowing Adams to ruin these issues. His artwork is still decent, but his style has changed over the years. His revisions stick out like a sore thumb, and when he leaves some panels intact it provides a jarring reading experience. I fail to understand why DC would allow him to do this. Marvel allowed him to tinker with the past once, in the 1996 printing of the X-Men Visionaries: Neal Adams trade paperback. They allowed Adams to alter certain elements of the splash pages as well recolor the issues with then-modern computer coloring. I bought that trade almost a decade ago, and the recoloring looked outdated at that point. This is the main reason why recoloring sucks, because attempting to make something look modern will only result in it looking dated again down the road. The main difference now being that it will be a super crappy, unfaithful outdated recoloring rather than original color palette outdated coloring. Marvel, unlike DC, learned their lesson.
DC has finally upped their game in terms of paper grade in their trade paperbacks of classic material. Gone is the toilet paper that they have used for ages, in is a thick, coated stock. The cardstock cover has a nice, thick, waxy coating that makes my OCD happy.
DC not including the covers to issues just because Adams didn't do the artwork is lame.
Linework restoration rating: Select pages have authentic linework. Those pages get a 2.5 out of 5. Those that are redrawn get a 0 out of 5.
Color restoration rating: 1 out of 5.
Paper rating: 4 out of 5.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5.
Cardstock cover rating: 5 out of 5.

Follow my blog on Facebook.
Join my Facebook group, DC Collected Editions Fans Who Want Sewn Binding and Books That Lay Flat, a watchdog organization dedicated to top notch production values in DC's collected editions.

No comments:

Post a Comment