Published on February 2nd, 2015 | by Duke Of Havoc0
Batman: A Visual History – Review
If you are anything like me, dear Consumer, you bloody love coffee table books. You know the ones I mean. Big, chunky books that you don’t read that often but when you do open it, you will pour over every minute detail for hours on end. DK Books are very good at making just that type of book. In the past they have put out visual dictionaries for films like Star Wars and even undertook what would be deemed an impossible task, and catalogued every single Lego minifigure, ever!
They have recently turned their hand to ever geekier topics and to celebrate 75 years of Batman, put together Batman: A Visual History, with beautiful images of pretty much every artist ever, fun facts and brief synopses of key story lines from his inception, right through to the current run by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Every year from 1939 to 2014 gets at least one double page spread. The pages are beautifully laid out and I could see this being used to settle some very heated geek arguments (OK, well maybe people will use Google but surely this would be more fun?).
Batman: A Visual History comes in a hard slipcase which itself is gorgeously designed. It features a broody looking Batman with his cape being used to depict key characters from his history in a rather neat collage. The image is by current DC cover artist Jason Fabok and it works perfectly. The death of the Waynes, a reference to Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Bane breaking Batman’s back and other key moments are shown and should be instantly recognisable to fans of The Caped Crusader. You even get two glossy prints: one is a close up of Fabok’s Batman and the other shows the slipcase image as one, rather than the wrapped around image that it appears as on the slipcase.
Weighing in with some 350 pages (including a very detailed index), you will be hard-pressed to find a more complete book about The Bat. When I went through it, page by page with Kia, we would find ourselves learning new things on every page. Our main interest seemed to be focused on when Batman had a change of costume. A lot of people are aware of Batman Of Zur-En-Arrh but have they heard of Zebra Batman or Rainbow Batman? This book is personally responsible for my partner now planning her first Batman cosplay. Yep, she is going to do Rainbow Batman. Thanks, DK Books.
It is also fascinating seeing Batman change from the character that Bob Kane & Bill Finger created, into the technicolour character of the sixties and then into the darker, far more complex character we know today (thanks to Frank Miller completely reinventing him in the eighties). Seeing all the crazy and bizarre stories play out over years is very rewarding. One example that stood out was how Batman and Superman had “Super-Sons” in World’s Finest #154 (December 1965) and only for them to reappear in #215 some 8 years later. You also forget how cyclical comic book plots can be. I think we lost count of how many covers with “Batman Dead!” or a tombstone with Bruce Wayne written upon it are in this book.
Overall, this is a fantastic guide for the ultimate fan or someone just getting into comics. There is no way you are going to read 75 years worth of Batman comics (estimated to be around 7000 issues including every title he is featured in), but this will give you a great reference guide. Yes you could look stuff up on wiki but it won’t be as gorgeous or rewarding as this book.
You can find Batman: A Visual History in all good bookstores or online. Or you can keep an eye out on Need To Consume and win a copy!