See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Days of our knight 

Batman: The Complete History
By Les Daniels
$29.95, 210 pp. Chronicle Books

I’m not sure if this is the best litmus test for whether or not you’ll dig this book, but it seems appropriate to the discussion: There are only seven pages dedicated to Batman as envisioned by director Joel Schumacher in the recent Hollywood flicks (with two photos of Keaton, one of Kilmer, one of Clooney).

The other 203 pages of this nearly coffee-table-sized tome are filled with Daniels’ thorough investigation of the Dark Knight as artful changeling, figure of popular imagination, metaphorical social commentator and, of course, consumable superhero extraordinaire.

There’s plenty contained within in which to sink your pop culture choppers, but Daniels’ opening chapter on the origins of the Batman character is the fascinating Rosetta stone to understanding Bruce Wayne’s alter ego. Batman’s acknowledged creator, Bob Kane, and co-creator / collaborator Bill Finger (who’s the lesser-acknowledged of the pair) coaxed Batman from the shadows of now long-forgotten pulp novels, radio programs and early horror-suspense flicks, and added bits and pieces of iconography, musculature, backstory and motivation like a pair of by-the-hour, workmanlike Frankensteins till Gotham City had its ultimate defender – and pop culture had its most enduring anti-hero. Daniels, with the essential aid of thousands of photos (of Batman outfits, toys, TV Batman Adam West, etc.), comic book frames and drawings, lays out the ensuing history with a style thoughtful, thorough and engaging. With an origin built so self-consciously upon the shoulders of both other icons and the spirit of the consumer moment, it’s no wonder the Caped Crusader has continued to morph his way into our hearts of darkness.

E-mail comments to letters@metrotimes.com

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Latest in Comics

More by Chris Handyside

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit