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Old August 12 2012, 02:43 AM   #1
Warped9
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Batman: Unauthorized...

Within the last couple of weeks I came across the mention of a book while following a discussion of the recent The Dark Knight Rises. The book is called Batman: Unauthorized and the reference to it piqued my interest. So I looked it up and took a chance ordering it from Amazon.

I'm really glad I did as I've just finished reading it. It's edited by Dennis O'Neil and is a collection of eighteen separate essays by various writers and their distinct views on various aspects of Batman and his world.

It was fascinating even when I didn't agree with what I read. Because above all it was thought provoking and all with a touch of humour. The articles touch on why Batman is such a great literary character and why he still fascinates us after more than eighty years existence. It's also apparent that all these writers like and even love Batman even when they're offering critical observations. In that it's similar to David Gerrold's book The World Of Star Trek.

There are articles on what it might really cost to be Batman, evaluating Bruce Wayne's psychology, a look at Batman's little remembered sci-fi era of the late 1940s to early '60s, what the campy '60s series really meant, the work of Frank Miller, the evolution of Batman and a helluva lot more.

And you have to read "To The Batpole!" by Alex Bledsoe. I guarantee you will laugh your ass off even as you see the characters stay perfectly true to form.

If you love Batman then I highly recommend this book.
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Old August 12 2012, 06:23 AM   #2
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Re: Batman: Unauthorized...

Note this book was published awhile after Batman Begins and shortly before The Dark Knight.

Included:

Introduction by Dennis O'Neil

Keeping It Real In Gotham by Robert Brian Taylor - reinventing and adapting classic heroes and Batman may be part of a small sub genre called "pulp noir."

Two Of A Kind by Lou Anders - an interesting look at the Joker and his relationship to Batman.

Frank Miller's New Batman And The Grotesque by Geoff Klock - a look at Frank Miller's takes on Batman from The Dark Knight Returns onward.

Holy Signifier, Batman! by Nicak Mamatas - a new look at the Adam West television series and what it really means.

The Cost Of Being Batman by Darren Hudson Hick - in the real world what would it cost you to be like Batman?

Ra's al Ghul: Father Figure As Terrorist by Michael Marano - looking at the relationship between Ra's al Ghul and Batman.

The Dubious Origins Of The Batman by Alan J. Porter - who really created The Dark Knight?

Why Doesn't Bruce Wayne Retire Already? by Chris Roberson - why doesn't Bruce Wayne ever pass the torch and how is he kept going decade after decade?

The Madness Of Arkham Asylum by Paul Lytle - what is Arkham really good for and what it represents.

Robin: Innocent Bystander by Jake Black - why does Batman allow a youth to accompany him on his crusade?

Batman In Outer Space by Mike W. Barr - a look at the often dismissed sci-fi era of Batman's history and what worth there might be there.

Gotham's First Family by Mary Borsellino - the why and how of Bruce Wayne's parents and their role in creating Batman.

What's Wrong With Bruce Wayne? by Robin S. Rosenberg - questioning wheather Bruce Wayne is psychologically flawed.

The Batman We Deserve by Daniel M. Kimmel - looking at Batman's evolution through the years.

To The Batpole! by Alex Bledsoe - an amusing look at a significant moment in young Bruce's life.

Heroes Of Darkness And Light by John C. Wright - the differences between Superman and Batman and why the Dark Knight is sexier.

Batman In The Real World by Kristine Kathryn Rusch - why Batman is a truly iconic American hero.

Batman, The Failure by David Seidman - why Batman's crusade, his methods and his very existence is ultimately pointless.
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Old August 12 2012, 06:44 PM   #3
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Re: Batman: Unauthorized...

The TDKR haters should love that last one...
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Old August 12 2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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Re: Batman: Unauthorized...

Its not a new idea or even unique to Batman. What does an old soldier do with his life once he has succeeded in his mission? He has made himself obsolete.
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Old August 12 2012, 06:54 PM   #5
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Re: Batman: Unauthorized...

Set Harth wrote: View Post
The TDKR haters should love that last one...
Some of these articles might not be what some assume. The last one isn't an indictment of Batman, but rather comparing him to others who have also been visited by tragedy and what they have done.
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Old August 12 2012, 11:47 PM   #6
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Re: Batman: Unauthorized...

It's interesting that when Batman was introduced it was at a time when comics were just starting to get off the ground and seen as entertainment mostly for kids. And yet the Batman of 1939 carried a gun and actually killed people during his exploits. He really was grim and dark and yet intended for children's entertainment.

Comics were an offshoot of the pulp magazines and the stories tended to deal with content painted in broad strokes without much subtlety and nuance. It was easy to grasp and the (relative) simplicity could even appeal to adults well familiar with the varying shades of grey of the real world. In some ways that remains part of why superheroes still appeal to us---they are the good guys getting the job done while everyone else seems to be just talking things over and arguing without result.

After reading this book I rewatched Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. While Nolan certainly makes an admirably effort to put Batman in a more realistic setting the pulp/comic book original source material is still very evident. As realistic as Nolan tries to be he never fully gets away from exaggerated and over-the-top elements. That's not a bad thing, but you can't help but see it. It's an acknowledgement that this is indeed fiction and still uses occasional broad strokes to heighten the drama.

Ironic, though, that Nolan's Batman of 2012 can't bring himself to directly kill Ras al Ghul or the Joker or Bane or anyone else, but the Batman of 1939 likely wouldn't have had that inhibition.
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Old August 13 2012, 06:52 PM   #7
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Re: Batman: Unauthorized...

It's a fun book - not as heady as a couple of others I've read (like Batman Unmaked: Analyzing a Cultural Icon by Will Brooker and The Many Lives of Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero and his Media by Roberta Pearson (ed) - both of which are hardcore media studies), the mix of authors and subjects is often interesting and occassionally hilarious. Though the article defending Miller's later Batman works was as ridiculous and nonsensical as the works themselves.

It's certainly true that the early years Batman would have killed without blinking. Not only was he free with killing off villains, so was the early Superman - who dropped folks off buildings to their deaths with some regularity during his first few years. This argument was used to defend Burton's murderous Batman - just being true to the roots, people said, and it has some truth to it.

If anyone's interested, there's been a minor explosion of other books analyzing Batman: Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul, Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight, or Will Brooker's latest Hunting the Dark Knight: Twenty-First Century Batman; there's even God on the Streets of Gotham - a book on how Batman reveals Christian truths. These sorts of books have become common around major franchises, you can find similar sets around Star Trek, Harry Potter, etc.
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Old August 13 2012, 07:07 PM   #8
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Re: Batman: Unauthorized...

Lapis Exilis wrote: View Post
Though the article defending Miller's later Batman works was as ridiculous and nonsensical as the works themselves.
Agreed. While I gave it a fair reading anything of Miller's after The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One is just crap.
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Old February 8 2013, 04:05 PM   #9
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Re: Batman: Unauthorized...

Lapis Exilis wrote: View Post
It's a fun book - not as heady as a couple of others I've read (like Batman Unmaked: Analyzing a Cultural Icon by Will Brooker and The Many Lives of Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero and his Media by Roberta Pearson (ed) - both of which are hardcore media studies), the mix of authors and subjects is often interesting and occassionally hilarious. Though the article defending Miller's later Batman works was as ridiculous and nonsensical as the works themselves.
I might look some of these up.
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Old February 13 2013, 06:32 PM   #10
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Re: Batman: Unauthorized...

Warped9 wrote: View Post
Lapis Exilis wrote: View Post
Though the article defending Miller's later Batman works was as ridiculous and nonsensical as the works themselves.
Agreed. While I gave it a fair reading anything of Miller's after The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One is just crap.
I'd go as far as to say the TDKR was itself crap by the last issue.
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