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Batman: A Visual History

Batman: A Visual History
Studio: DK Publishing
Publishing Date: September 29th, 2014

Synopsis: Batman: A Visual History follows the DC Comics Super Hero from his 1939 beginnings as a crime-fighting vigilante to his present status as a worldwide cultural icon approaching his 75th anniversary. The book celebrates Batman's greatest stories and the writers and artists that created them. It also charts the careers of the Super Heroes and super-villains — Robin, the Justice League, the Joker, Catwoman — associated with Gotham City's Dark Knight. The debuts of every key Batman character are featured, as well as some details of Batman movie and TV series, both live-action and animated. Perfect for any comic book fan, this visually stunning, definitive guide is written by Matthew Manning and arrives in a slipcase featuring specially commissioned artwork by a top DC Comics artist plus two original prints.

Batman: A Visual History Review
By James Harvey

To jump right to it, this is a book that delivers on its promise ... and even exceeds it. Batman: A Visual History is an excellent addition to anyone collection and, no matter how huge of a fan you may be, there are definitely some new nuggets of information contained within to uncover. So, let's get the book's description out of the way and get to the good stuff!

Batman: A Visual History follows the DC Comics Super Hero from his 1939 beginnings as a crime-fighting vigilante to his present status as a worldwide cultural icon celebrating his 75th anniversary. This massive tome celebrates Batman's greatest stories and the writers and artists that created them. It also charts the careers of the Super Heroes and super-villains — Robin, the Justice League, the Joker, Catwoman — associated with Gotham City's Dark Knight. The debuts of every key Batman character are featured, as well as some details of Batman movie and TV series, both live-action and animated. Batman: A Visual History, written by Michael K. Manning, is housed in a slipcase featuring specially commissioned artwork by DC Comics artist Jason Fabok plus two original prints.

Breaking down the entire history of Batman, from his first appearance up to the start of the Batman Eternal, Batman: A Visual History is an impressive compendium of the character's amazing comic book history. And don't be fooled by the "visual" moniker, this book emphasizes substance over flash here, the visual merely goes hand-in-hand with the fact. While the enormity of images is fantastic, including some nice, over-sized splashes to really show off some of those iconic Batman moments, it's the heavily-researched information that steals the spotlight. Just about every little detail of Batman's storied history is covered here, and just how far this book goes is impressive.

Batman's major innovations, story-lines, milestones are all covered here. Even the smaller accomplishments are given some notice, but the book manages to actually cover instances of varying importance with the right amount of attention. And while Batman is given the spotlight here, as his major comics are covered, the book doesn't forget about his supporting cast, thankfully. We get the must-cover moments, like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Killing Joke, and so forth, but I also like that the book makes sure to note some of the smaller-but-still relevant events, like the launch of The Batman Adventures, the introduction of some cult-favorite bad guys, and so forth. While the book can't touch upon the television of movie history of the character, it makes sure to include them in a sideways manner by making sure to look at the comics based on them or inspired by them. It's a nice nod to Batman's massive entertainment history.

The talent is took to collect and arrange all of this information is unquestioned here. Manning deserves some major acknowledgement for his work here. When even looking at some of his other previous similar releases, this one really takes the cake in terms or organization, relevance, and presentation. The work on display here is simply jaw-dropping and it would be disappointed to see such a magnificent tome as this overlooked.

In fact, I would call this book not only required reading, but a necessary resource tool going forward. Everything you could consider wanting to know about Batman and his comic history is all here. The depths this book digs to is incredibly impressive. Now, it doesn't go as in-depth as some of the encyclopedia-type books in the past, but provides a detailed overview of the character's 75-year history in comics. There are different books if you're looking for details on the character by the way of locations, tech, specs, you won't find much of that here unless it's part of the overall exploration of the character's history. This is about his comic history, emphasis on the comic part. That being said, the level of detail concerning the comics and events this book covers is, again, incredibly impressive.

This book certainly was a joy to go through, as I found myself revisiting many of the comic storylines I read growing up with Batman, but now in context of the character's overall history. In part, it gave me a bit of newfound respect for how much this character and his world evolved over the years. It also made me realize just how big some of these events were at the time, in retrospect, and how some of these events would inspire bigger events from both DC Comics and rival publishers years down the line. The Batman comics actually laid the framework for a lot of how modern comic book events work nowadays. It's a fascinating read, especially as a Batman fan myself, growing up with the character for nearly thirty years, to see parts of my own life placed in context of what the character was going through in his comic book exploits at the same time.

I have to admit I smiled to myself when I noticed the first issue of Batman I ever read - Batman #348 - was highlighted and given a small write-up. I know the book is just "doing it's job" by listing a notable event in the Batman comics, but it still stirs something up for me. If anything, it's a testament to the incredibly thorough nature of this book and just how far it goes in Batman's comic lore. And, really, it's just a nice happy coincidence that one of my all-time favorite Batman comics is given a little blurb. Like I said, it makes me smile.

And really, I'm not even scratching the surface when it comes to what this book provides. It's very much a worthwhile purchase even for the most die-hard of Batman fans. You think you know everything? Well, there's a great chance that you'll still learn something new here. Plus, this book is easy to pick up, be it for a focused power-read session, or for a casual flip-through. The balance between written content and accompany visuals makes it an easy book to pick up, but one hard to put down. If you leave it out on your table, I guarantee you you'll find yourself flipping through it on a near daily basis, be it to just skim through a favorite era, or to read up on some of the more obscure aspects of Batman's comic background.

And fear not, the quality of the book itself will allow it to hold up to many, many, many readings. The cardboard slipcase is incredibly tough and sturdy, with solid binding and a durable package. No expense was sparred when putting this book together.

Batman: A Visual History is a Must-Own for Batman fans, and should be part of any fan's shelf. It presents Batman's 75 years in comics in hefty detail. The book balances every section perfectly, never overbearing the reader with information, but also making sure that barely a stone is left unturned. It's a fine rope to walk but the Manning walks it so well. And yes, if you're looking to see some gorgeous artwork, you'll find plenty of that here. Again, it's fantastic to see Batman's entire history presented in such an attractive, nicely packaged form - a package that does not skimp in any regard. If you want a fantastic look at Batman's entire history in comics, then look no further. This book right here is exactly what you want.

Batman: A Visual History is a Must Own!


Check out an interview with the author Matthew Manning right here at The World's Finest!

Batman: A Visual History hardcover book is now available at retail and digital outlets everywhere.