THE BATMAN CHRONICLES VOL. 11 (DC, 2012; Softcover)
Note: Book actually released in 2013
Collects Batman #20, 21, and the Batman stories from Detective Comics #82-85 and World’s Finest Comics #12 (cover dates December, 1943- March, 1944)
Writers: Don Cameron, Bill Finger, Jack Schiff, Alvin Schwartz, Joe Greene, and Mort Weisinger
Artists: Jack Burnley, Ray Burnley, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, George Roussos, and Dick Sprang
Golden Age Batman is the best. DC kicked Timely's (or Marvel as they will one day be known) posterior region during the 1940s. The writing and artwork in this book is way better than what was found in most other titles of the day. Continuity wasn't a consideration and yet there are minor references to past adventures. Batman and Robin are continually defined and redefined as characters, with regular readers becoming aware of their motives and beliefs.
I am always amused by fans who have never read the early stuff claiming that Frank Miller's dark and gritty run are true to the original essence of Batman. While it is true that some of the earliest stories were hard-boiled, pulp inspired tales where Batman killed, that was quickly phased out by the same folks who created the character. If anything, this stuff is more similar in tone to the 1966 TV series. I have been watching it quite a bit of late, having bit the bullet and bought the deluxe Blu-Ray box set. The style of the third party narratives and quips from that series are indeed found right here in the pages of the comics. Fanboys* can cling to their notion that bastardized Neal Adams Batman (READ: Frank Miller) is the true essence of the character, but I will debate that to my dying day. The most prevalent representation of the character is the bleak, morose curmudgeon we see today, but that is not necessarily the correct characterization of the character from his early days.
*Term used in the original pejorative.
|Shades of Burgess Meredith!|
Batman's early rogues gallery is present, with the Joker and the Penguin being front and center. We also see one of the earliest changes, when Alfred goes from a portly Limey with a secret desire to be a detective to the seemingly taller, vastly thinner, and well spoken butler that would go on to appear in the television series. These comics are all fantastic reads.
This is likely the last volume in this line, as DC scuttled plans for a Superman Chronicles Vol. 11 and have cancelled a number of other solicited volumes in the line, which sucks. I avoided the Archives because of the way that they collected the material by individual title rather than chronological by appearance. I could pick up some of them but a few of them are out of print and going for a couple hundred bucks each, more than I am willing to pay. So I will sit back and wait for DC to pump out Golden Age Batman Omniboo or maybe even resurrect this line down the road. I am patient. Godzilla knows I have more than enough reading material to tide me over until if or when it happens. And if it doesn't, my homeskillet Ferjo Byroy owns all of the Archives and has offered to loan them to me to read, so once I catch up on my reading in 2038 I can just borrow his.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- The material is presented in standard trade paperback trim size, meaning that the artwork is slightly shrunk down from the original publications. Golden Age comics were wider than modern comic books.
Linework and Color restoration: Hit and miss. Some linework looks great, other issues not so much. The original color palette is largely maintained although there are liberties taken here and there. I'd say it's 90-95% faithful to the scans of the original issues that I have done side by side comparisons with.
Paper stock: The pulp paper used in this book is thinner than the stock used in the original comics. It holds the color well and offers zero glare, but it would be nice if it were much thicker. This is Charmin toilet paper that will undoubtedly yellow with time.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick waxlike lamination.