Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga Volume One
West goes East
Release Date: 16 December
352 pages | Paperback/ ebook Publisher: DC Comics Writer/ artist: Jiro Kuwata
One reason Batman has maintained his popularity so long is that he’s a character who can survive multiple interpretations, and few of these are as weirdly distinctive as this series of licenced Japanese Batman adventures, produced in the late ’ 60s to cash in on the popularity of the Adam West- starring TV show. Samplings of these tales were seen in the 2008 book Bat- Manga, but now DC is collecting the whole saga together in English for the first time.
The resulting adventures make an offbeat companion volume to DC’s current Batman ’ 66 series. Kuwata’s Caped Crusader is just as far- fetched as anything in the classic TV show – perhaps even weirder, since it’s played with a straight face. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson battle undead gangsters, an evil human bouncing- ball and other loopy threats, and the action is rendered in a wonderfully kinetic old- fashioned manga style, packing impact into even the craziest moments.
It can sometimes feel like Batman and Robin have wandered into an old- school anime like Lupin III or Speed Racer, and the demented charm of the stories keeps this collection consistently entertaining. The ’ 60s art style may be too archaic for some, and there’s never really a point where these stories add up to anything other than glorious nonsense, but it’s still refreshing to see Batman viewed from a new cultural angle.
Kuwata- created Bat- villain Lord Death Man was resurrected recently for an appearance in Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated.
Adam West’s paunch didn’t make it in.