Wednesday, April 18, 2012


(WARNING! After reading and re-reading this entry pre-publication, I thought it rather obvious that there was just TOO MUCH autobiographical goo and meaningless musings weaved into this review which, frankly, I gotta admit even made me wanna do a little puking myself. Oh, it ain't like this post will end up as one of the worst pieces of scribbling to emanate from my keypad this or any year, but the fact that this writeup is so leaden and perhaps even masturbatory certainly detracts from the overall delivery of what might come off to you as rather mixed emotions [heavy on the pro] regarding this book. You may be curious enough to read on, but if you are put off by writers like myself who endlessly bring up facts about their growing up days that have meaning only to themselves and love to yammer on about every past childhood indiscretion, shortcoming and  slight, please don't bother reading any further. After I get this posted you know I most certainly won't [and I wrote the thing!], but I worked so hard on it and it ain't like I have the time or stamina to start from scratch. Besides, I gotta admit that for all of it's rather nauseating faults I kinda like the li'l bastard...)

Bought this one for purely nostalgic reasons. Well, at least I ended up with a copy if only to satiate one of my many failed childhood attempts to live life to the fullest and reach out and grab a big juicy hunk of that thing called suburban slob living. Yeah, you can bet that I remember way back in the days when this and its SUPERMAN companion edition were piled up on bookshop tables county-wide, and I also remember my folks not getting the hint that I wanted both of 'em real bad-like for Christmas that year. That did kinda get to me if only a li'l bit. (Since they did get me THE GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES as well as a slew of DC and Marvel superhero titles I can't say that the season was a total loss, but these were like...really wanna have 'em bad kinda items!)  Surprisingly enough both books were available at the local library albeit sporadically, though while I was lucky enough to take out the SUPERMAN edition for one rough and tumble weekend the obviously more popular BATMAN collection never seemed to be available. And when I finally was able to espy the book it had been mutilated beyond repair as was wont these various comic anthologies that always seemed to make their way into the hands of the more destructive elements in our society! For a kid who held such things as comic book anthologies to heart you could bet the sight made me feel rather gnarly-like!

When I actually purchased a pretty good quality copy of the SUPERMAN variant at the July 4th 1992 Mesopotamia Ohio flea market you could bet that I was happier than Al Sharpton at a Holocaust Memorial! Now that I have the long-lusted after BATMAN collection all I can say Well, if this 'un made its way into my paws at age twelve it woulda been the highlight of the year, but nowadays all I can do is osmose the kinda throb thrills I woulda gotten had this 'un infected my comic lust-filled soul as a kid 'stead of the jaded and hate-filled volunteered slave which I have become forty years later. At least back then there were hundreds of things within my grasps from boss tee-vee to dozens of comic book titles to a rebounding top 40 that I could look forward to, but once all of that fizzled out into an alien life form that has no discernible connections to what it had once been like, feh! But as I once said, maybe you can't go home again, but perhaps you can move in next door which might revive alla 'em old-time kiddo thrills that kept you goin' throughout life and all of its travails.

BATMAN, FROM THE THIRTIES TO THE SEVENTIES does live up to its promise cover the saga of Batman from his very first appearances while pretty much ending right around the late-silver/early bronze age back when comics were gettin' the good ol' nickel to dime price hike. (Remember that cage-y price war battle twixt DC and Marvel?) This does suits me fine, especially considering just how comics would start gettin' this gaudy tinge by the middle of the decade and I kinda felt slimy 'stead of stimulated readin' 'em!

And even though it's not exactly like I can revert to age twelve like I sure wish I could, at least this book has the right balance of hard-edged action coupled with typical post-Comics Code Authority absurdity, a rather enticing mix that does cover a v. good portion of my post-double digits comic interests! The story selection really woulda made my pre-pube free time all the more absorbing as it woulda been for any overweight pudge of a pulsating pimple farm like myself. Or at least it would have for someone who was somehow under the impression that he was living in the ultimate culmination of the best of 20th century fun and games, an era which just hadda've begun with the creation of THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS a good seventysome years earlier!

Coulda been slightly better with more of the early, frothing, avenging sagas which woulda given Dr. Wertham fodder for years to come, but I won't complain that much. (Still wanna read the one where Batman, sitting in the cockpit of a biplane, fires a machine gun into a crowd while muttering "Although I hate to take human life, in this case I believe that it is a necessity!"...straight outta FEARLESS FOSDICK I tell ya!) Of course some of the all time classics from the first appearance of The Joker as well as Robin's origin are here, and I guess the best thing about it all's that compiler E. Nelson Bridwell had the grand gall to mix the wild with the mundane meaning that although we do get a few early, avenging vigilante Batman sagas here there are those Comics Code-era schlocky fun sagas with Batwoman, Batgirl and Bat-Mite (not forgetting Bat-Dog) to contend with. Given how much I seemed to prefer those reprinted sagas to the new material back when the 25-cent "Bigger and Better" issues would slip one of those classics into the back of an ish I gotta say that these stories were most certainly welcome here at BLOG TO COMM central if only because my daily dosage of fifties schlock most certainly could use an upgrading.

Gotta admit that it was a sheer stroke of brilliance ignoring most of the Batcraze-era sagas which seemed to mimic the television series 'stead of the other way around, and a concentration on the "newer" sagas post-Robin* which seemed to be an update on Batman's original avenging intent was yet another smart 'un. As a kiddo I really liked the Neal Adams style (not to mention his obvious emulators) and reading these roughly '70/'71-era comics for the first time did jar a few nerve-ending tingles of pre-adolescent fun and games. Some stories that I did have high hopes for, such as the Man-Bat saga, didn't quite solidify in my mind though I thought "The Demon of Gothos Mansion" had a good amt. of that revised code spookiness that seemed to have been making a comeback around that time. Who knows, if they decided to edit the Caped Crusader outta it the thing coulda ended up in THE HOUSE OF MYSTERY!

An overall winner...nice selection of not only stories but classic covers (the fifties/sixties ones with the whackoid come ons that DC excelled in being the best) and the overall style and swerve of this just sends me back to the good 'n bad ol' days when I'd see this 'un stacked up on book shop tables at the local mall (good) with a $6.95 price tag (bad!!!).And it's a nice representation of what BATMAN used to represent back when there was a pretty good 'n clear cut idea as to hero and villain even though back then the lines could get blurred even if a little. But at least ya did get the idea that Batman was the good guy and the Joker was evil, and the cops were usually ineffectual like they always seem to be in these superhero comics. But it ain't like today when you kinda need a libretto to tell who's who...sheesh, the situation regarding some of these characters is so confusing that it's almost as if Harvey Kurtzman had written the past thirtysome years of comic history as a sick joke..."well, the guy's a hero, but he's a bad hero. Though he has some good hero in his bad, but he's not like that bad guy who had a lot of good in him while that other good guy is really a bad guy and..." Like I say, if I told you alla this a good fifty years back you woulda carted me away!
*Who was now away at college and getting involved in a whole slew of seventies "relevant" adventures with the hippies down on the farm. Gotta admit that Robin ended up looking like a dork in that rather sissy costume next to the already dorky-looking hippies who seemed to have been born of the entire early-seventies James Taylor/Cat Stevens sensitivity movement, but considering some of the socially-conscious duds DC was tossing at us at the time I'm at least glad they didn't have the guy coming outta the closet which I'm sure a man the stature of Fredric Wertham woulda expected so late in the game!

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