BATMAN ON FILM, since June 1998!

Book Review:
THE BATMAN CHRONICLES, Vol. 1

Author: Bill Ramey
Saturday, October 28, 2006

SYNOPSIS FROM DC COMICS:
Presenting an exciting new way to experience the rich history of the Dark Knight in an affordable trade paperback collection of every Batman adventure, in color, in chronological order!

THE BATMAN CHRONICLES VOL. 1 reprints Batman stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #27-37 and BATMAN #1, featuring the earliest adventures of The Dark Knight by Batman creator Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Gardner Fox, Jerry Robinson and Sheldon Moldoff.

When I was a kid in the 70s, there used to be these oversized comic books produced by DC Comics. They would include several stories featuring whichever DC character from different periods of publication. I can remember clear as a bell the day I found this sort of comic book at a local convenience store starring The Batman (It even had several shots of the “live-action“ versions Batman on the back cover).

The front of it was red and featured a cool drawing of The Dark Knight by Neal Adams. It must have been around ’72 or ’73 when I bought it, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

Man, I recall reading and reading that thing from cover to cover time and time again. I LOVED that book -- drew in it and just wore it out!

The point of this reminiscing? This book was my first introduction to Batman stories from decades other than the 70s. And I was reminded of that ‘ol book when I picked up Vol. 1 of THE BATMAN CHRONICLES.


DETECTIVE #27 (left), BATMAN #1 (right)

THE BATMAN CHRONICLES, Vol. 1 features the earliest of all Batman stories -- from DETECTIVE #27 through #38 and including BATMAN #1. Until 1970 and the arrival of Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, and the other great 70s writers and artists, this was the absolute darkest period of The Batman’s history.

Hell, he might have been too dark. Dude carried a gun and had no problem whacking a bad guy if need be! There's a great quote by The Dark Knight in DETECTIVE #27 after he puches a guy in the face and he falls over a rail into a acid tank: "A fitting end for his kind," say The Bat-Man.

As someone who loves history, I found this compilation fascinating. Some of these stories -- like “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” (DETECTIVE #27, May 1939) and “The Joker” (BATMAN #1, Spring 1940) were not new to me, but many I had never read.

What I found interesting is the change that the character went through in his first year of existence. Starting with the somewhat goofy look of The Batman in DETECTIVE #27 (the cowl is rather weird looking), his look quickly transformed into that we know even today. What is also worthy of note is the almost overnight change in tone of the comics the moment that Robin is introduced in DETECTIVE #38 (April, 1940). Of course as all Bat-Fans know, the progression to the happy-go-lucky “Caped Crusader”was quite quick as soon as the 40s rolled around.

The atmosphere of the comics was interesting as well -- almost like watching an old movie from the 30s and 40s. The dialogue was truly from another time and seeing everyone smoking up a storm -- including Bruce Wayne with a pipe -- was funny as hell!

THE BATMAN CHRONICLES, Vol. 1 is a heck of a book, relatively inexpensive, and the proper way to learn about The Batman’s history -- by reading it directly, as opposed to reading about it. That's called a primary source class.

And finally, props to Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Gardner Fox, Jerry Robinson and Sheldon Moldoff -- Thanks!

Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and editor in chief of
BATMAN ON FILM, BATMAN IN COMICS, and ON-FILM.NET.

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