From School Library Journal
Adult/High School—The appeal of Batman waxes and wanes, but he has doubtless been one of the most popular superheroes in recent years, with the upcoming movie generating even more buzz. This entry looks at Batman as a literary figure worthy of several critical essays. Eighteen authors, including those with backgrounds in journalism, editing, and academia, contribute short critical essays focused on the many aspects of the superhero through the years. Though each writer has a particular point of view, there are several points on which they do agree: Batman Begins
was the best of the movies, the campy TV series nearly ruined the character, Batman is even darker than many casual observers realize, and Frank Miller made him darker still. These recurring themes give the book cohesion, even though it is doubtful that any but the most ardent fan will read it from cover to cover. A particularly clever essay looks at the cost of being Batman, estimating the value of the costume, the Batcave, the Batmobile, and more as just under $300 million. This book would be a good addition where superheroes are popular, as well as a clever alternative to more dry, dusty literary criticism for those doing assignments.—Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
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Over the course of nearly seven decades, there have been dozens of different versions of Batman, from playboy detective in his early comic-book days to camp TV clown in the 1960s to grim masked avenger of the most recent movie—not to mention Pez dispenser. The 18 contributors veteran Batman scripter O’Neil presents in this collection tackle those Batmans and Caped Crusader sidekicks and foils, including the different youngsters who have filled the role of Robin and such notable adversaries as the Joker and Ra’s Al Ghul. Frank Miller’s radical interpretation of the character and all the movie Batmans, which vary as much as the many comic-books permutations, are necessarily covered. Many contributions address the problems endemic to a corporate-owned pop-culture icon whose adventures have been told by hundreds of authors in various media for more than half a century. Although the all-too-serious approach of most of the articles demonstrates the pitfalls of taking commercially generated pop culture too seriously, readers more than passingly interested in the venerable character will be genuinely, one hopes enjoyably, diverted. --Gordon Flagg