Good Reading Day

By | Monday, January 29, 2007 Leave a Comment
I had a doctor's appointment in the middle of the day today, and needed to take the day off from work. The appointment itself didn't take long, but it was awkardly scheduled so that I wouldn't have been able to accomplish much if I had gone in. So, having most of the day free, I picked up the copy of Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams volume 2 that I got for Christmas and read through it.

The book reprints a number of Batman stories, obviously, illustrated by Neal Adams. Several of them were issues that I actually had as a kid, and helped to solidify my love of comic books. In fact, there were very few comics I had as a kid that featured a Batman drawn by someone other than Neal Adams. Adams and Batman were as synonymous to me as Curt Swan and Superman.

What's interesting to me, though, is that I never made a conscious distinction at the time of how good Adams' work was in comparison to others'. A couple issues I had reprinted Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson stories, and Batman certainly cropped up in other issues drawn by other artists from time to time. But it was the Adams stories that stuck in my mind. Nothing I could lay my finger on back then, but those issues were just better somehow.

Looking back with almost three decades of hindsight, it's fairly clear why I loved those stories more than others. Neal Adams' work was summarily elegant and his frequent partnering with Denny O'Neil produced always solid, if not excellent, stories. Batman had yet to become the dark, brooding, morose character that Frank Miller helped make him, but the O'Neil/Adams Batman stood out as the ultimate policeman. He was Sherlock Holmes and Bruce Lee rolled into one. He solved crimes using his uncanny ability to notice details, and sort out all the connections in his head (no silly "Bat-Computer" for this guy!). And then he was able to beat the snot out of the hoods who were foolish enough to pull a gun on him... without using a weapon himself!

It really was incredible stuff back in the day, and it's no wonder I grew to love comics. Even if you didn't grow up on those same books I did, I highly recommend getting at least one of the Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams books. DC really producing some strong material at the time, and these stories showcase some of the best of them.
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