Batman Book Three by Neal Adams (graphic novel review).

Part of my job as a reviewer is to ignore what others have written on something I’m likely to review so it’s only my opinion and honesty. I went into these Neal Adams ‘Batman’ books, liking the art but wondering where was the spark when it actually took off?

Wait no longer. ‘Batman Book Three’ really hits the spot in so many ways. The second introduction by writer Dennis ‘Denny’ O’Neil that he thought he had a kindred spirit in his artist raised his game, even though he never talked to Neal Adams about what he was about to do. Namely having Robin shot and kidnapped and The Batman (the first use of the capped ‘The’) following the clues and needing his equipment and finally returning to the Batcave. There he finds Rȃ’s Al Ghŭl and his giant henchman, Ubu, waiting for him, having figured out he’s Bruce Wayne.

He also has a similar problem as his daughter, Talia, has been kidnapped by the same people as Robin. She had earlier told him that The Batman was the best detective. What follows is a trip across the world and a reinterpretation of the clues to mean something else and a surprise you need to read for yourself. Oh, this is also Rȃ’s Al Ghŭl’s first appearance and the establishment in Batman # 232 in 1971 of a new villain to his gallery. The game has risen.

Oddly, the continuation of what happens next isn’t shown, so we don’t know what happens after the plot revelation and how the Batman is allowed to return to Gotham City at such a crucial point. Nevertheless he’s back and shortly, thereafter, fights with Two-Face, a trip to the Rutland Halloween Party, the resurrection of Rȃ’s Al Ghŭl in his Lazarus Pit and the Joker returns. The Clown Prince has an opportunity to kill The Batman but declines preferring to keep him as his mortal enemy.

There’s also a little matter of the Batman making it look like Bruce Wayne died in a plane crash in South America a few issues back but omitted from these stories to this point, to sort out a forgery and political problem in Gotham City. Finally, there is a story where The Batman faces off a werewolf.

That was pretty much Neal Adams’ tenure on the ‘Batman’ title until 1975-76, where he did two Batman stories for Power Comics. I’ve got a couple of the Marvel ones, so this is my first time seeing these. Essentially, the story was to match a vinyl record of the dialogue to help kids to read. As such, the dialogue if you wanted to just listen to it had to give enough detail so you knew what was going on. Something that happens with radio dramas. The first story borrows the red phone from the TV series and a little more reader friendly than dark. As this company also paid big bucks, you obliged them with what they wanted.

This third book has not only more of Adams’ covers but an art gallery of his work from that time period. It does mask on the content page how many comics are in here. From the top, Batman # 232, 234, 236, 237, 241, 243, 244, 245, 251 & 255.It would have been interesting seeing or knowing who was doing the alternative issues to put the stories in context, although I suspect one of the other Batman omnibuses out there covers this. Adams was also being kept very busy doing covers for DC Comics and couldn’t do everything. Someone really ought to think about doing a complete book of all the covers he did for them.

A fitting end to the three books. In whatever form you buy these tales, you need to see all three volumes to put things in context. The Batman was back and sales went up and have stayed that way since.

GF Willmetts

December 2019

(pub: DC Comics 2018. 236 page graphic novel softcover. Price: well, I paid $30.00 (US) for a signed edition . ISBN: 978-1-4012-4075-2)

check out websites: www.dccomics.com and http://www.nealadamsstore.com/Batman-Illustrated-Vol-3-Soft-Cover–Signed_p_1744.html


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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