REVIEW: The first paperback volume of Batman: The Jiro Kuwata BATMANGA is a highly entertaining fusion of Japanese and Silver Age aesthetics.
Much has been written over the last few years about the Stateside discovery of manga master Jiro Kuwata‘s Batman stories of the mid-1960s. Chip Kidd produced a book about them and the fun folk at the animated Batman: The Brave and the Bold series did their own tribute:
Well, DC proper’s now pubbing, for the first time, the full run of Kuwata’s work, translated into English. The stories have run exclusively digital-first — until now.
Come 12/3, we get the first print volume, a softcover that very much looks like a classic manga — the mostly black-and-white book is read right to left and the glossy cover comes complete with back and front flaps. There are a lot of charming elements: For example, the art is left intact, so the sound effects remain in Japanese, with the translations in small print.
The stories themselves are an interesting mash-up of forms: You get six Silver Age tales produced for a Japanese audience. The art is highly influenced by the prevailing Carmine Infantino house style of the time, yet Kuwata’s fluidity and economy of line work is distinct and pleasing to the eye. Some names are changed — most famously Death Man becomes Lord Death Man. In another case, the Flash villain Weather Wizard (above) appears inexpicably as Go-Go the Magician. You also get the Adam West TV Batmobile — and a Batcopter that looks suspiciously like the Flying Batcave from Detective Comics #317.
So dig some of the pages, then check out a gallery of American comics the Vol. 1 stories draw from:
Lord Death Man comes from Batman #180
Doctor Faceless comes from Detective Comics #319
The Human Ball comes from Detective Comics #347
The Revenge of Professor Gorilla comes from Detective Comics #339
Go-Go the Magician comes from Detective Comics #353
The Man Who Quit Being Human comes from Batman #165
NOTE: The book also deserves a spot in our HOLIDAY HOT PICKS listings!
Also on the Batshelves This Week: The regular creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato returns in Detective Comics #37 and the zippy Grayson #5 comes out as well.