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Truly the ultimate history of America's ultimate superhero. Publisher's Weekly
Batman came out of the darkness, out of the collective unconscious where visions of avenging angels dwell, but he also came out of the shadows cast by imaginary heroes who had gone before. A compelling synthesis of several figures lurking in the dark corners of popular culture, Batman would eventually outrun all of his inspirations to become an instantly recognizable icon, one of the most widely known fictional characters ever created. Alternately presented as redeemer, clown, and demon, Batman has transcended any simplistic explanation of his appeal, but the key to his success may lie in the very variety of roles he has played. "Maybe every ten years Batman has to go through an evolution to keep up with the times," suggested Bob Kane, the artist who originated the hero. "I am Batman," Kane once proclaimed, yet many other artists, writers, editors, and actors have found something in the Caped Crusader that they could call their own, and so has an audience of untold millions that has developed over the past sixty years.
Born Robert Kahn in 1916, Bob Kane was the son of an engraver for the New York Daily News. His father regularly brought home the color comics sections and encouraged his son's ambition to be a cartoonist. A self-proclaimed copycat, Kane taught himself to draw by imitating newspaper strips, and was creating ads for neighborhood merchants while still in high school. He worked briefly on Betty Boop cartoons for the Max Fleischer studios but devoted most of his efforts to the fledgling comic book industry. The first of these new ten-cent magazines reprinted old newspaper material, but experimentation and economics eventually brought new talent into the field. Kane tried his hand at everything from "Peter Pupp" to "Ginger Snap" (his first love was humor), then began to drift toward more serious stories. He sold "Rusty and His Pals" to Adventure Comics in 1938 and "Clip Carson" to Action Comics in 1939. Both strips were written by Bill Finger, two years Kane's senior, and also a graduate of DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. After an initial encounter at a party, the pair met at Edgar Allen Poe Park and decided to collaborate on comics.
Born in Denver, Bill Finger had hoped to be an artist, but his parents expected him to become a doctor. The financial crunch of the Depression had put an end to their ambitions, however, and Finger was working as a shoe salesman. A long childhood illness had encouraged him to become a voracious reader, and it was as a writer that he would finally make his mark. However, his work always retained a strong visual element, and artists who worked on his scripts considered him the best comic book writer of his generation. Finger was certainly the dreamer of the team, while Kane was the go-getter who had a head for business.
Vin Sullivan was an editor at DC Comics, publisher of both Adventure Comics and Action Comics. The company's most successful character was Superman, who became the lead feature in Action after his debut in 1938. Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, Superman was an alien with amazing powers who battled oppression on his adopted planet, Earth. Dressed in Technicolor tights and a flowing cape, Superman had captured the imagination of American kids, and Sullivan was looking for something similar for DC's Detective Comics. He said as much to Bob Kane, who credits Sullivan's suggestion with being "instrumental" in the creation of Batman. Kane returned to DC's Manhattan offices in a few days with some sketches, and shortly after getting Sullivan's okay he showed up with a complete story. "It started with an idea that he suggested," Sullivan recalled. "Then he came back with pages of this new character. And it looked pretty good to me, too. It seemed like an interesting character. I don't think anybody realized that it would develop into what it has become today. In fact, I'm sure they didn't."
Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books. Copyright © 2000 by Les Daniels.
Posted March 25, 2001
It is great with the first Batman comic. It is also Great the book telling his past with great photos and the toy is marvelous with a baterang,utility belt, and poseable cape. It is fully articulated.The Superman one was bad but the comic and the book was good.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.