‘Bat-Manga’? What an awesome title! I didn’t even know that this book existed until I found it on the shelf of my local library while browsing for other stuff. Pure chance.
And, to think that book itself came into existence only by pure chance…
The material presented within is a collection of japanese Batman comics. Until Kipp stumbled upon them a few years ago, hardly anyone even knew that they had been made – they had been relegated to the dustbin of history.
Since they were virtually lost, the comics are reprinted from actual comics, not from the original source material – so they look a bit worse-for-wear. But it’s the only way to explore this Japanese re-imagining of the Batman character, which is loosely based on the not-so-Dark Knight that the world knew in the ’60s.
Unfortunately, the comics themselves are a tad simplistic in their art, concepts and storytelling. It seems to me that they were made for young kids, not adults, because a lot of it would hardly survive adult scrutiny of any kind. In the end it’s a mere curiosity; there’s very little chance of being entertained.
I haven’t read old school comics in a while, so maybe even the original DC Comics were also like this, but the characters’ powers and designs really made me think of Japanese anime from the era. It truly felt like an adaptation that culture had influenced. Case-in-point, the villain called ‘Lord Death Man’! Not ‘Lord Death’ or ‘Death Man’. Nope. Lord Death Man.
‘Bat-Manga’ may not be a great read, but it’s still a thoroughly satisfying one: the book has a preface that gives context, there is a word from the original author and the book is filled with japanese promotional art as well as pictures of Batman-related japanese merchandise from the era. Bound in a nice hardcover, it makes for a Bat-tastic coffee table book.