4/3/13

Bat-Manga, Examined (part one)

Today, we begin a four-part, in-depth look at a very strange book indeed, BAT-MANGA! - THE SECRET HISTORY OF BATMAN IN JAPAN, by Chip Kidd, and translating the manga of Jiro Kuwata.  It seems that Japan had their own Batmania in the mid-60's, and the result was lots of tin toys, and this bizarre series of fever-dream comics.
Now, don't get me wrong; we are going to have our fun with this, but it was a fun, fast-paced, and entertaining read....also as nuts as a box of frogs.  Personally, I would rather read this stuff than anything that's not Godzilla (or Popeye reprints) on the comic stands now. Your mileage may vary, of course.
The real problem is, there is a fever-dream approach to the layout of the book, as well...most of the stories are woefully incomplete, and it adds to the non-sequitur feel (read: mindscrew) of the entire thing...I have no idea, but maybe it wasn't possible to track down more examples of these stories than what is here, but they could have at least pointed that out a bit better...one second stuff is happening, and there's a cliffhanger, and the next, there are some pleasant pictures of Japanese toys, and then before you know it, a new story is starting (or picking up in medias res....my, I'm really dropping the Latin today.)
Anyhow, the point is, it's great fun, and comics should be fun, right? So buy it, or something.

Now, in Part One, we are going to examine how Japanese Batman is a complete jerk:
Exhibit A: Considers himself superior to any criminals.

Exhibit B: Can hardly contain his loathing for Robin (also inferior). Through gritted teeth: Yes, Robin, it's a High-Pressure Rock Thingy....sheesh! Clownbag.


Exhibit C: Rambling incessantly about his own intelligence, even though nobody is listening. I think Japanese Batman ended up in our American Super Friends...."Photo-Physics"? Is that even a thing?


Exhibit D: Did you know that Japanese Batman has "powers"? That's because he doesn't.
You have to read right-to-left (because it's manga), but basically, Robin is wounded and gives Batman one of those "Go on without me, the mission is too important..." speeches.  So Batman just takes it, and drives off, leaving a maimed Robin in the street, and advising him to seek medical care....thanks, Batman!

Here's a great one--I don't know much about the Japanese legal system, but I doubt that a guy in tights can declare a murderous super-villain "not guilty by reason of insanity"...who made you Bat-Judge and Bat-Jury?
Oh, wow.  Just, WOW...an ego the size of Gotham City here.  Poor Robin....and why is the child driving the Batmobile here? And why, if you squint at this panel, does it look like the Lone Ranger is chauffeur to a small house cat?
And speaking of Robin, he has his moments of rebellion too:
Somebody needs a spanking...
In Part Two, we will look at the kind of Super-Villains that Japanese Gotham City actually has, and what their odd plans are for our heroes, and the keeping of bees.

2 comments:

Christopher Sobieniak said...

This is the Batman I love!

Sampoerna Quatrain said...

Me too! It's just, well, enjoyable! More to come...I wish there was going to be a follow-up book, or maybe finding source material was difficult. I would rather see a complete set of translated volumes, presented in order!