We’ve seen the Batman take many shapes and forms throughout his 76 years as a literature icon. However, this may be one of his most unique. Pantheon Publishing prides itself on being one of the major companies that translate foreign books and graphic novels into English. At one glance we knew that “Bat-Manga” was a must have. So is it good?
Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan
True to the manga original, this work reads from right to left and for someone who is new to this form of novel (this guy) it’s definitely going to be odd at first, but the reading style parallels the given perspective of the dark knight. The stories center on both Batman and Robin, illustrated in that classic ’60s comic motif. Obviously the writing can be a bit cheesy at times, but to contemporize the language would defeat the whole point of this collection. Therefore, you’re going to see soliloquys from every character as they continuously think out loud as well as Clayface’s affinity for shape-shifting into a pterodactyl.
The work features better known villains such as Clayface as well as those that never made it into the 21st century such as Go Go the Magician and Lord Death Man. However, as obscure as some of the characters are, Lord Death Man was actually featured in Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc run. Now does it surprise you that Grant Morrison would include a random fifty year old character that was prominently featured in the Japanese adaptation of Batman? No, but now you have an upper hand at Batman trivia with your friends.
Is It Good?
This is a book that transcends fandom as it would please both fans of Batman and fans of classic Manga independently. Chip Kidd does an excellent job at encapsulating an authentic look at a Batman within 1960’s Japan. It’s a must have for any reader that calls themselves a Batman fan and provides a unique twist on this iconic figure.