BATMAN ILLUSTRATED BY NEAL ADAMS VOL. 2 (DC, First Softcover Printing, 2013)
Collects Batman No. 219 (back-up story only), The Brave and the Bold Nos. 86, 93, and Detective Comics Nos. 395, 397, 400, 402, 404, 407, 408, 410 (cover dates November, 1969- April, 1971)
Writers: Denny O' Neil, Mike Friedrich, Frank Robbins, Neal Adams, Len Wein, and Marv Wolfman.
Artists: Pencils and Inks- Neal Adams, Inker- Dick Giordano
Less a collection of vintage comic books and more a bastardized George Lucas Special Edition-style commission, I have mixed feelings about Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 2. On one hand, these stories are absolutely incredible, with crisp writing and Adams' frenetic artwork. On the other hand, I am a purist who wants to see these issues as originally published...just on better paper, printed without line bleed and off color registration, and squarebound in a collected edition as God intended. Neal Adams is one of my favorite artists, as his work bursts with excitement and breathes life. The problem with this book is not whether or not could Adams “improve” this material by reinking, redrawing, and recoloring it with then-modern computer coloring, but whether or not he should...and my answer is an emphatic no.
Okay, now that I have gotten all of that off of my chest I will tackle the stories themselves. Unlike Vol. 1, Adams is firing on all cylinders here. Also unlike Vol. 1, he is paired with top notch writers. Denny O' Neil is just fantastic, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good Frank Robbins' writing is since I have never read anything that he wrote before. He wrote the first two appearances of the Man-Bat based on Adams' plot (Detective Comics #400 and 402). Man-Bat frickin' rocks, and those issues are the highlight of the book. I loved watching Dr. Kirk Langstrom's mind go down the tubes the further his mutation progressed.
I enjoyed The Secret Of The Waiting Graves from Detective Comics #395. While it was predictable by modern standards it was well executed, and, quite frankly, Neal Adams' brilliant artwork could make the most banal story palatable. The Silent Night Of the Batman (Batman #219) is a hard-edged yet uplifting Christmas story, something that you would never see in today's overly sensitive politically correct world. No comic book or television show does Christmas specials anymore, they do “holiday” specials. Even if they are celebrating Christmas there is at least one Jewish person in the story to tell about their holiday, so on and so forth.
So the artwork is great, regardless if it is redrawn or not. Adams has a great sense of panel composition, with each flowing into the next, giving my mind the illusion of movement. The modern recoloring is mostly garish but occasionally works. I will be more than happy to double dip and buy this in an authentically recolored and properly restored (read: keeping Neal Adams as far away from the restoration process as possible!) Archives line of this era of Batman. I'm certain that there are a boatload of Adams fans who would be all over such a line. There are hardcovers available of these three books, but I could not justify buying the Special Edition version of Neal Adams' Batman in a high end hardcover. It didn't seem right. So these inexpensive softcovers were right up my alley. This is highly recommended reading in spite of the substandard recoloring.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- There is a segment of the comic book buying population that would love to see all old comic books recolored with modern computer coloring techniques. I am not among that segment of the population. The reason why is evidenced in this very book. When I look at a collected edition of old material and see the flat four color process, I think Coloring may have been primitive, but this is authentic to how the material was originally published. When I look at this book I think Wow, this looks dated and garish by modern standards. Worse still, not only does this 2006 recoloring job look outdated but it is not authentic to the original publications. This is the ultimate lose-lose scenario. The folks who think that recoloring classic material with “modern” coloring is a good idea are the same folks who applaud George Lucas for making the original Star Wars trilogy Special Editions, replacing those “outdated” special effects with “state of the art” CGI...which is now also outdated by modern CGI standards. Folks should leave art alone.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: 6 page Foreward by Neal Adams
8 page Introduction by Dick Giordano
The covers to Batman #217, 220-222, 224-227, 229-231, Detective Comics #394, 396, 399, 401, 405, 406, 409, 411, The Brave And The Bold #88-90, 95, and World's Finest Comics #199, 200, 202 by Neal Adams are all included in order of publication throughout the book.
Linework and Color restoration rating: ? out of 5. How would I even go about rating this bastardization of such classic comic books? Let's just call this one “Your mileage may vary.” The original issue covers look like they may have some linework dropped, and the recoloring of them definitely suffers from horrible, lazy “airbrush effect” computer gradient shades that look harsh and stick out like a sore thumb.
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. Good weight glossy coated stock paper.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Nice thick waxlike lamination which will provide years of enjoyment when handled with reasonable care.