Readers demand a lot from superhero comics: consistency, continuity, adherence to the rules of the universe, compelling heroes, magnetic villains, satisfying endings, and the list goes on.
But those of us who have been reading for years (if not decades) are chiefly looking for one big thing above all else: novelty. We want to see something we’ve never seen before; characters we recognize as the heroes and villains we love being put into scenarios and settings wholly unlike what’s come in nearly 80 years of superhero comics.
That’s notoriously hard to do. Many times, stories end up being very similar to what’s come before, and when creators do try something new, they elicit complaints from readers who don’t like particular changes or decisions. But what if you could strip away those pressures and build a superhero comic that’s so strange and unique that it’s a must-read?
That’s what Jiro Kuwata’s 1960s Batman comics, currently being republished as the DC Digital Series Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, are. A strange combination of classic Batman comics, the 1960s Batman TV-show, Marvel-Age science-based storytelling, mysticism, cartoon physics, Tokusatsu, and of all things, Scooby-Doo, it isn’t like any comic I’ve ever read. It’s endlessly surprising, and I love it.
As much as I love the stories of Lord Death Man and Professor Gorilla, the one thing I was really excited about when DC announced that they'd be bringing Jiro Kuwata's Batmanga back into print after over 40 years was that they'd be getting to stories that I hadn't read. The collection that Chip Kidd put together a few years ago was, after all, just the tip of the iceberg, and it was the stuff that hadn't been reprinted that was going to get really weird -- and if you've been keeping up, you've seen just how strange things can be.
In next week's episode, the current story comes to its climax with "The Man Who Quit Being Human," which, given that the previous story has featured the aforementioned Professor Gorilla, has been pretty surprisingly dark. Batman and Robin are facing down against a terrifying foe who wants to eliminate his mutated genes from his daughter, and it's pretty incredible. Check out a preview below!
Between three monthly titles, a spot in the Justice League, an ongoing weekly series in print and an ongoing weekly digital-first series, you might be under the woefully mistaken impression that there were enough comics about Batman going around to satisfy everyone's needs. If you are, then you, my friend, are wrong. We always need more Batman. And apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Today, DC Comics announced not one, but three new Batman comics, set to be released soon: Arkham Manor by Gerry Duggan and Shawn Crystal, Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher and Karl Kerschl, and a digital-first collection of Jiro Kuwata's Bat-Manga, translated and reprinted in its entirety for the first time since it was originally published in Japan in 1966.
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