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The Essential Batman Encyclopedia [Paperback]

Robert Greenberger

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Book Description

June 10 2008
The ultimate guide to the man behind the mask . . . and the mythology behind the man.

“Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible. . . . I shall become a bat!” So declared millionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne, orphaned as a boy by a murderous thug and driven as a man to battle the scourge of crime by becoming Batman. Batman swooped into popular culture in 1939–and for nearly seventy years has thrilled audiences in countless comics, live-action and animated television programs, and seven feature films. Prowling the darkened rooftops of Gotham City, roaring through the teeming streets in the sleek, high-powered Batmobile, and leaping into action when the iconic Bat-Signal pierces the night sky, the Caped Crusader is a larger-than-life legend. And now, for the first time in more than thirty years, everything there is to know about Batman–from the beginning to the present, and from A to Z–is collected in one comprehensive new sourcebook. More than 500 pages of entries and illustrations include:

• fascinating details and the complete background on Batman’s origins
• biographies of every major character in the Batman universe–including his closest allies, from Robin the Boy Wonder and faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth to Commissioner Gordon; and his countless enemies, from the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and the Riddler to Scarecrow, Two-Face, Ra’s al Ghul and Poison Ivy
• classic black-and-white comic book artwork throughout
• two sixteen-page full-color artwork inserts

Even an all-access pass to the Batcave couldn’t rival former DC Comics editor and Batman scholar extraordinaire Robert Greenberger’s exhaustive ultimate archive. The Essential Batman Encyclopedia is a must for every Batman fan’s bookshelf.

BATMAN, the DC Logo, and all related names, characters and elements are trademarks of DC Comics © 2008. All rights reserved.

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Product Description

About the Author

Robert "Bob" Greenberger is a former Editor at DC Comics who worked on many Bat-related titles, and an acknowledged expert on the Dark Knight. In addition to his editorial career, he has written several Star Trek novels, short stories, and comics. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Serial killer Arnold Etchison grew up convinced that his family members were evil. He eventually murdered them in the belief that their deaths would protect the world from further perils. Etchison also believed that he absorbed the life force from each victim after his or her death. Taking the name Abattoir, he continued his murderous spree until Batman apprehended him. Etchison was declared criminally insane and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum. When the international criminal Bane freed the Arkham inmates while carrying out his plan to weaken the Dark Knight, Abattoir immediately returned to tracking down and killing members of his extended family. Etchison was eventually found by Jean--Paul Valley, who at the time was substituting for Batman after the latter was crippled in a fight with Bane. Their confrontation took place at a Gotham refinery where Valley, who lacked Bruce Wayne’s unwavering moral scruples, allowed Abattoir to fall to his death. However, Valley later learned that Etchison had left an innocent victim, his cousin Graham Etchison, hidden away in an undisclosed torture chamber. With Etchison dead, the victim remained undiscovered and eventually died.

Some time later Etchison’s spirit returned to plague Bruce Wayne, who had healed and wore Batman’s cape and cowl once again. Abattoir’s spirit attempted to cause his last surviving relative, an unnamed cousin, to miscarry, thereby providing him with a mortal vessel to possess in his plan to return to human form. Instead, Abattoir animated Valley’s armored Batsuit and fought Batman until the Dark Knight convinced Etchison’s spirit to abandon his vengeful mission and return to his proper place in the spirit realm. (Detective Comics #625, January 1991)
Little is known about Kyle Abbott, whose first recorded appearance saw him in the employ of ecoterrorist Raø’s al Ghuøl. He later swore his allegiance to al Ghuøl’s former employee, Whisper a’Daire, who injected him with a serum made by Raø’s that gave Abbott the ability to shape--shift into a werewolf and eternal life. The serum needed to be taken on a regular basis, thereby granting a’Daire control over Abbott, who became her much--feared second in command. (Detective Comics #743, April 2000)

Abbott was also a’Daire’s whipping boy, and was punished every time one of her power--grabbing schemes failed. As a result of the many beatings he received, he was left partially blinded and disfigured until a’Daire used the serum to restore Abbott’s health, although he remained blind in one eye. Despite his suffering, Abbott remained unswervingly loyal to his vicious master. When a’Daire took over HSC International Banking, a legitimate company fronting for the criminal group Intergang, Abbott remained by her side.

Eventually regaining total sight, Abbott–now able to change form from human to semi--lycan to full werewolf–led a team of shape--changers against the Question and former Gotham City Police Department detective Renee Montoya, who were tracing illegal alien weaponry to Intergang. Abbott and his men engaged Intergang in a vicious fight that left all of Intergang’s agents dead. Abbott later managed to track Montoya and the Question to Khandaq, framing them for the slaughter that had occurred at the Intergang HSC warehouse. (52 #1, 2006)

When he returned to Gotham, Abbott was alarmed at the fervor Bruno Mannheim, Intergang’s leader, displayed for the task of destroying the city to fulfill a prophecy from the Crime Bible. As a result, he turned his back on a’Daire and proved crucial in leading Montoya to the kidnapped Batwoman, about to be sacrificed by Mannheim. He was last seen accompanying Nightwing in disabling devices designed to turn the city into a charred lump of rock. (52 #48, 2007)
On Earth--2, Batman and Robin, sometimes accompanied by Superman, would be hypnotized by Professor Carter Nichols and manage to pierce the time barrier. One such adventure landed the World’s Finest team in tenth--century Baghdad. The swarthy giant Abdullah led the notorious Forty Thieves and traded a youth named Aladdin a useless oil lamp in exchange for a fortune, and then tried to frame Aladdin as a member of the thieves. The time--traveling trio not only helped the lad regain his fortune, which had been swindled from him by Abdullah, but also stopped Abdullah’s planned crime wave through a Baghdad bazaar. (World’s Finest Comics #79, November/December 1955)

Organized crime in Gotham City has taken many shapes over the years, but none so blatantly mirrored the efforts of law enforcement as the Academy. A secret training facility for criminals, it also doubled as the headquarters for the underworld group that most benefited from the training. Standards for admission were high, the Academy accepting only those men with an IQ higher than 135 who were physically at their peak. Upon learning of the Academy’s existence, Batman was determined to shut down the facility for good. The Caped Crusader disguised himself as a recruit and went through all the training courses upon acceptance. His well--developed mind and body ensured that he advanced rapidly, and eventually he became a nominee for the next leader of the organization. Batman took the leadership role and subsequently brought about the Academy’s downfall, with the help of the Gotham City Police Department. The Academy’s hoard of stolen property and its current membership roster were taken into custody, and the facility was shut down for good. (Batman #70, April/May 1952)

The small town of Accord was said to be located Òtwo hundred or so miles north of Gotham City.Ó Accord was founded by the great--grandfather of its local physician, Lynn Eagles, who aided the Batman during a case involving the Joker. (Legends of the Dark Knight #67, January 1995)

When would--be counterfeiters kidnapped en-graver John Wilker, Batman and Robin launched an investigation. They saved Wilker’s abandoned German shepherd, Ace, from drowning in a river, and used the dog’s innate tracking abilities to help locate his master. During the search, Bruce Wayne also placed an ad for Ace’s master. Given the distinctive diamond--shaped mark on Ace’s forehead, Wayne hoped someone would recognize the dog and provide some useful information. Sure enough, one of Wilker’s neighbors gave Bruce a vital clue.

Wayne was also concerned that people might associate Ace and his distinctive diamond mark with Batman and his true identity; as a result, he quickly fashioned a black hood and bat--symbol collar, and Ace joined the Dynamic Duo. A criminal tracked by the cowled canine soon dubbed him Ace the Bat--Hound.
Wilker’s kidnappers were attempting to steal ink from the Eastern Printing--Ink Company when the crime fighters caught up to them, only to be subdued during the fight. Fashioning a crude Bat--Signal from cloth and a flashlight, Batman managed to summon Ace, who gnawed through Robin’s bonds, freeing the heroes and allowing them to defeat the counterfeiters. (Batman #92, June 1955)

Wilker loaned Ace to Batman for numerous cases over the next few months. When Wilker took a new job that required him to travel frequently, Wayne finally adopted the dog. By then Batman had added a receiver to Ace’s collar that used an ultra--high--frequency sound to summon the canine. (Batman #125, August 1959) Ace went on frequent adventures with the Dynamic Duo, and worked alongside Batwoman as well. Bat--Mite, the magical imp from another dimension, once bequeathed Ace temporary superpowers, with disastrous results.

In the reality created by the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batman encountered the German shepherd when the dog was pet to a 130--year--old Native American shaman named Black Wolf. Batman was drawn to a bat--shaped patch on the dog’s shoulder, and followed the dog. Batman was led to and rescued Black Wolf from members of his own tribe, who wanted to silence his protests at their evil plans. Batman and Black Wolf worked together to stop the tribe from committing atrocities that they felt would balance the heinous crimes committed by European settlers in 1863. After their mission, Black Wolf died and Batman brought Ace back to Gotham City. Ace aided Batman on several occasions, including tracking the monstrous and elusive Killer Croc. (Batman #462, May 1991) Once ensconced in the Batcave, Ace was drawn to the mute hunchback Harold, who had also come to live in the cave and build tools for the Dark Knight. Harold, in return, built Ace a mechanical mouse to play with. Ace was last seen prior to events known as No Man’s Land.

Ace has not appeared in the reality created after the events of Infinite Crisis.

As a way to commit crimes without interference from Batman, the Penguin once recruited an unnamed actuary. This actuary observed that the best way to commit a crime without being foiled by Batman was to do so in broad daylight. As the Penguin made his plans, he was unaware that Batman had already targeted one of his current gang members, Nico Vanetta. Batman learned from Vanetta that the Penguin intended to rob the annual Gotham Flower Show. The Dark Knight then engineered events so that the show was plunged into darkness, and the Penguin’s latest scheme was foiled. Evidence gathered at the crime scene prevented Batman from linking the near robbery to the Penguin. In his role as a casino owner, the Penguin not only had an alibi, but could explain away circumstantial evidence as well. Still, to settle the possible criminal charges, Penguin maneuvered the actuary into pleading guilty to the flower show robbery. The actuary was subsequently sentenced to Blackgate Penitentiary. (Detective Comics

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  39 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph... June 17 2008
By Colin Smith - Published on Amazon.com
I've been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it (October 2007??) and have had it on pre-order since.

It didn't disappoint. Not one bit.

The book is much in the same style as the Michael Fleisher Encyclopedia of the 1970s (recently reissued).

It has hundreds of entries on a myriad of Batman characters, places and gadgets, ranging from the the very famous to the extremely obscure.

And when I say obscure, I mean it. I also mean that in a positive way.
As a Batman fan of 30 years, I'm extremely interested in him and his supporting characters.
I'm therefore thrilled that this book isn't purely dedicated to well-known characters like Alfred, The Joker and Gordon. It also has entries on such oddball characters as The Eraser, Hydro and The Bouncer.
Some of the characters listed in the book only appeared once or twice, and often not as the main villain of the story (there are entries for various henchmen and gangsters).

In comparison to the Fleisher book, there is less detail, sometimes quite considerably.
However, I think this is a good thing. Mr Greenburger has covered a lot more comics, over a greater number of years than Mr Fleisher. To be able to go into minute detail (as Fleisher did) for the number of comics that represented here would mean several volumes would need to be released (and probably several more years).
In addition to this, sometimes I felt the original encyclopedia to be overly descriptive in parts, sometimes quoting lengthy text portions from the comics. This doesn't happen in this new book. Don't get me wrong, I love the Fleisher book for this, and treasure it as the devoted work that it is. I just feel that this wasn't needed in this case and I'm glad Mr Greenberger decided to go with listing more entries rather than adding more text per entry.

If I had to list areas where improvements could be made, I would have loved to see some maps, diagrams and tables showing things such as a detailed Batcave plan, major Batmobiles, family tree of the Waynes, listings of such things as Gotham City mayors, bat-equipment etc.

Also, full colour illustrations would have been nice, but I understand that would have bumped the price up considerably.
The black & white illustrations are nice though - lots of variety of artists (although quite Jim Lee heavy (not a bad thing, but I'm more of a Neal Adams fan)) and a good selection too.
There are two colour sections and these are lovely. Really eye-popping and a great choice (gotta love that Brian Bolland Poison Ivy pic - stunning!!).

Overall though, I can't fault this book. It has surpassed my expectations and is exactly what I want in a resource for the Dark Knight.

Truly outstanding and a fine tribute to one of our most enduring icons.
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who's Who of Batman June 11 2008
By Jon Repesh - Published on Amazon.com
This encyclopedic style tome is effective as a who's who of Batman related characters and devices, but unfortunately only scratches the surface. The information provided for most is far from complete, so depth is wanting. This is understandable when discussing certain characters with prodigious appearances like the Joker, who would be extremely difficult to produce a complete bibliography for, but the few obscure characters I researched had minimal data on them as well. Very little if any mention is made about the creators or the animated universe, and considering some of these characters came into prominence from the DCAU, this is a glaring weakness. The writing is average at best and has a poor narrative flow. It jumps from present to past and back again. The book's appeal and its main target audience will be the beginning or casual reader. Many long term Batfans may not find this relatively expensive book worth the cost for the uncertain amount of info they may find. Don't get me wrong, there is knowledge to be gleaned here, but it's a shame that the finished product isn't worthy of the aggregate effort, which ideally would have been an exceptional book that would be considered a must have by all fans of this great iconic legend. More than most, it will probably come down to the price as the determining factor on whether or not to purchase it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too much Batman knowledge? No such thing. Dec 14 2012
By Davo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a seriously intensive encyclopedia of Batman knowledge. As we speak, I have disillusioned all of my geek friends by knowing more about Batman than they ever will.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect!!!!! Dec 3 2012
By Kandallyn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I Bought this for my uncle,he is a huge batman fan. It's amazing! it's in perfect condition and its just a great buy. I'm actually thinking about buying another one for myself!!
Bottom Line:Yes I would definitely recommend this!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars husband loves it June 29 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My husband is a huge fan of Batman, and I got several books about Batman and the Batmobile for him for Father's Day. He absolutely loved it!

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