First things first, this book is not for everyone. This book is only for those who want the awesome.
“Batman’s Silver Age Newspaper Comics,” a co-production of IDW and the Library of American Comics, with the support of DC Comics, brings to the fore the long-lost 1960s newspaper strips borne out of the TV show-driven Batmania.
The show’s DNA is deeply ingrained in the ink on the wonderfully reproduced pages. Sure, you get the likes of the Joker, Penguin and Catwoman — but you also get original villains that could very well have made their way to the small screen like Little Napoleon! (I would have cast Edward G. Robinson.)
The immediate thing that gets you is the sheer heft of the book, produced in landscape format. It’s a thick, 256-page hardcover — complete with navy bookmark ribbon — featuring a lengthy preamble by Joe Desris that gives a firm introduction to the material, placing it in its historical context. And this is only the first of three volumes in a project spearheaded by editor Dean Mullaney. (Cover price for this volume is $49.99 and will be in stores tomorrow, March 26.)
You get both color Sunday strips and black-and-white dailies by a series of artists including Carmine Infantino, wrapped in an homage cover by Pete Poplaski.
The stories themselves aren’t the engrossing, thought-provoking reads that modern comics buyers are used to. They’re not even particularly compelling when compared to much of what was coming out in the mid- to late-’60s.
But the strips are evocative of the time and a particular approach to comics – namely, they’re fun (although there are the occasional of-the-period bits of cultural ignorance like having a Chinese chef named Fat Lip).
Those squirmy moments aside, you can see yourself with a glass of chocolate milk and the newspaper (what’s that?) having a grand ol’ time.
Bring me Little Napoleon. You can have your Mr. Zsasz.