Sunday, September 30, 2007

Showcase Presents Batman vol. 2 and One Pound Gospel: Hungry for Victory

Here's how this works: I finish reading a comic collection, and I tell you about it, and I try not to go on too long.

The second big Batman Showcase book (~500 pages of black & white reprints) covers all of his appearances in Detective Comics and Batman from September 1965 to December 1966, so it's material very much inspired by, and in turn inspiring, the Adam West Batman show. One of these strips, "Batman's Inescapable Doom Trap," showed up three months later as a TV episode, with the criminal character of Carnado revamped into Zelda the Great, played by Anne Baxter. Since there was a need for more female foes on the TV show, the comics writers created Poison Ivy, who, interestingly, has nothing to do with the "mad botanist obsessed with plants" iteration of the character, and is instead a typical va-va-voom '60s femme fatale. As they got word that Frank Gorshin was not going to return as the Riddler in the second season, they created the Cluemaster, who's exactly like the Riddler, only he wears orange.

Oddly, despite tailoring new, easily-adaptable scripts, the comic writers found their work quickly ignored by the TV people, who never used these or several other new TV-friendly characters. They even pilfered an old Superman foe called the Puzzler to sub for Gorshin instead of using Cluemaster in the second season. Anyway, this is highly recommended if you enjoy the Adam West show, but if you don't, you can safely give this a pass.

This volume compiles a pair of five-part stories from the early 90s; Rumiko Takahashi typically writes and draws a single multi-part One-Pound Gospel story every other year or so. Kosaku's boneheaded inability to pick up on anybody's feelings is a little ponderous, and it reaches a new low in the second story when it's revealed that he had no idea that Sister Angela's vows preclude her ever dating anybody. But the first story, in which an early KO of Kosaku's has been working to keep up with Kosaku's weight to get a rematch, is very good, and there's a two-thirds-splash page of Kosaku drowning his sorrows in a bowl of noodles which is just about the funniest thing I've seen in months. Recommended for Takahashi fans.

(Originally posted September 30, 2007 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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