BATMAN: THE STRANGE DEATHS OF BATMAN (DC, First Printing, 2009; Softcover)
Collects Detective Comics #347, World's Finest Comics #184, 269, Brave And The Bold #115, Batman #291-294, and selections from Batman Chronicles #8 and Nightwing #52 (cover dates January, 1966- February, 2001)
Writers: Gardner Fox, Cary Bates, Bob Haney, David W. Reed, Gerry Conway, John Stanisci, and Chuck Dixon
Artists: Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella, Curt Swan, Jack Abel, Jim Aparo, John Calnan, Tex Blaisdell, Rich Buckler, Frank McLaughlin, Sal Buscema, John Stanisci, Greg Land, and Drew Geraci
This is one of those scattershot collections that don't appeal to me. I dislike the idea of books that jump all over the place in terms of original publication date. I passed on this book when it came out. Years went by and I was at my local library with my kids and they had this book in the graphic novel section, so why not, I thought? It has some vintage stories and the price is right: free.
I will never understand DC's collected editions department or the methodology used in the way that they put their books together. This is collection of issues where Batman apparently “dies”, and it is a pretty flimsy thread to use to pull a bunch of random issues from different decades together. This is the type of trade paperback that Marvel used to do in the '90s, before they figured out that people want complete runs of titles collected. I can't imagine anyone demanding a collection like this, nor can I imagine this being the type of collection that a mainstream bookstore buyer would pick up. It seems that the only folks who buy collected editions of vintage material are the completists, and they only buy books like this because it is the only game in town to see vintage material in “high def”.
If you read it as a random sampling of issues then you will have fun. The Brave And The Bold #115 was great, as Aparo was the best thing since Neal Adams. The four part Where Were You On The Night Batman Was Killed? storyline is the highlight of the book, a real whodunit featuring a who's who of Batman's rogues' gallery. Great stuff, and it makes DC's unwillingness to properly collect their material even more frustrating. Like I said, if you take it as a random collection of comics it will result in a fun read. If you want a solid run in between two covers then the different art and coloring styles will prove unsatisfying.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- The cheap paper that DC uses makes their books weigh as much as a pack of cigarettes.
Linework and Color restoration: The linework is excellent, with no noticeable dropouts on the two issues that I did side by side comparisons with. The original color palette is faithffully maintained and errors present in the original comics, such as the Joker's teeth being blotted out by the printing press and colored red, are corrected.
Paper stock: DC uses cheap mando pulp paper in their collections of classic material during this era. It is ridiculous and feels cheap.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback. It should be noted that this is a library copy and is still kicking.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover that has weathered endless handling over the years and still looks okay. Library books are like science experiments to us OCD types. We would never handle our books this many times, so it is neat to see how a book read dozens of times holds up.