Tales of the Batman: Don Newton Hardcover – Dec 20 2011
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About the Author
Don Newton was born in 1934 and began his career as a professional comic book artist in 1974. After becoming an art teacher in his home state of Arizona, Newton became an active participant in the culture of comics both as a fan and a creator. He produced distinctive work on iconic characters for companies such as Charlton, Marvel and DC. His work on Batman and several other DC characters is still widely respected for its deft storytelling and characterization. Don Newton passed away in 1984 at the age of 49.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It is really great to see Don Newton's work honored with the high quality printing of this book. Along with Jim Aparo, Newton was my favorite Batman artist growing up... it is nice to revisit these tales from 1978-1980. A lot of great writers pull duty on these stories (Denny O'Neil, Bob Rozakis, Cary Burkett, Marty Pasko, Michael Fleisher, Marv Wolfman, & Gerry Conway), and Newton's inking partners include Dan Adkins, Dave Hunt, Robert R. Smith, Kim DeMulder, and Frank Chiaramonte.
The comics represented in this volume are:
BATMAN #305-306, 328
DETECTIVE COMICS #480, 483-497
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #153, 156 & 165
Content-wise, readers get to see Newton's version of Leslie Thompson, the woman who helped Bruce Wayne as a child. Batman also fights Maxie Zeus, the League of Assassins, the Riddler, and a host of dangerous criminals. He investigates the death of Kathy Kane, once known as the Batwoman, and aids the Batgirl when she goes through an existential crisis. Written and drawn in the late seventies and early eighties, these stories are action-packed; they are populated by villains closer to real life; and their atmosphere resembles the urban decay (just look at "Curse of Crime Alley") of American cities during that same period. Newton brings Batman back to Gotham's dark skies, stresses his shadow, and in several occasions shows his audience how pictures can tell a story. My favorite scene in the whole book is when Commissioner Gordon describes the Batman's mysterious personality to his daughter Barbara Gordon while he shows us the Batman in action.
The amount of violence, graphic images of killing and dead bodies, suggest that younger audiences then were apt to see these images. This is not to mention that comic books were also competing with a growing movie industry, violent and action-packed TV programs, and the advent of the first video games. Nonetheless, these issues of the Batman, as well as many others not in this tome were great entertainment for the young readers of my generation. Some issues that I considered outstanding were Murder by Thunderbolt (Denny O'Neil), The Spook's Death Sentence and Vengeance Trail - a Batgirl story (Cary Burkett), The Crime Doctor Calls at Midnight, Murder in Quicksilver, and Murder on the Mystery Ship - the return of legendary Clayface (all written by Michael Fleisher).
A small slight in this volume is the lack of introduction by someone who worked with Newton, or by some artist that may have admired Newton. The editors limit themselves to adding a brief biography of the artist on the book's jacket. But this may be harmless to the overall purpose of this work, which is to honor Newton, and satisfy old Batman fans, and perhaps new ones.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this hardcover volume of reprints, I think I will hang on to my Bronze Age originals for a while.
I had two complaints and they may be of small consequence to most potential buyers:
1. While the color scheme of the originals is essentially kept the same; there are times when the underside of Batman's cloak appears purple instead of blue.
2. My biggest disappointment was that (unlike the Gene Colon Tales Of The Batman Hardcover Volume from DC) there are no original covers reprinted here. One expects this when paying less than $25 for a paperback reprint volume, but for a $50 hardcover I at least would have expected that the covers would be represented. I realize that Newton didn't draw the covers for these issues (Jim Aparo did), but I would have still liked to have had them included in this volume.
Still I very much look forward to the next volume of Don Newton's Batman.
Instead of more opinions and theories, I will just end with a listing of the stories included herein.
* BATMAN # 305 - November 1978 - With this Ring Find Me Dead
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 480 - November/December 1978 - The Perfect Fighting Machine
* BATMAN # 306 - December 1978 - The Mystery Murder Of `Mrs. Batman'
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 483 - April/May 1979 - The Curse Of Crime Alley
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 484 - June/July 1979 - Assault On Olympus
* DECECTIVE COMICS # 485 - August/September 1979 - The Vengeance Vow
* BRAVE & THE BOLD # 153 - August 1979 - Menace Of The Murder Machines
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 486 - October/November 1979 - Murder By Thunderbolt
* BRAVE & THE BOLD # 156 - November 1979 - Corruption
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 487 - December 1979/January 1980 - The Perils Of Sergius
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 488 - February/March 1980 - The Spook's Death Sentence For Batman
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 489 - April 1980 - Where Strike The Assassins
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 490 - May 1980 - Requiem For A Martyr
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 491 - June 1980 - The Riddle Of The Golden Fleece
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 492 - July 1980 - Vengeance Trail
* BRAVE & THE BOLD # 165 - August 1980 - Prescription For Tragedy
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 493 - August 1980 - Riddles In The Dark
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 494 - September 1980 - The Crime Doctor Calls At Midnight
* BATMAN # 328 - October 1980 - A Tale Of Time Past
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 495 - October 1980 - Murder In Quicksilver
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 496 - November 1980 - Murder On The Mystery Ship
* DETECTIVE COMICS # 497 - December 1980 - Bad Night In Baja
This book is a bit "lumpy" however. Too many writers (talented as they are!) create and uneven read. And while Newtons art is outstanding, it too suffers a bit from too many inkers. (...talented as THEY are.)
I rate this book 5 stars because it does bring Newtons work to a new generation and because I'm REALLY hoping for more volumes where writer Doug Moench takes over the scripting chores and an unlikely inker for Don's work (Alfredo Alcala)mesh to perfection to present the coolest, best looking, and most atmospheric Batman there's ever been.
So here's a salute to DC for this volume, and a hope for more.
The actual designers of the book... not so much.
First off, they didn't include the covers of the issues, which I always find to be good chapter-dividers. And granted, Newton did none of the covers, but geez, include them anyway!
This volume, at 357 pages, collects chronologically the Newton-illustrated stories from BATMAN, DETECTIVE and BRAVE & THE BOLD. And that's a lot of material for one volume. I'm glad it was arranged in chronological order, so you can see Newton's visual development on the character.
Newton's art is clean and beautiful, but initially he seems to draw Batman in a more Adam West sort of way than an Adams/Novick/Aparo/Rogers sort of way, and it's only in the last few issues you see Newton develop a more atmospheric avenger-of-the-night Adams/Aparo styled Batman.
The book is printed on glossy stock and arguably looks better than the original. But as is often my complaint with these reprint hardcovers, they have changed the colors, and therefore the reading experience, and I have a slight preference for the colors in the original comics, despite the superior printing in this hardcover version.
There are 22 stories in this collection, but Newton did a total of 73 Batman stories across BATMAN(33 stories), DETECTIVE(37 stories) and B & B(3 stories). So there is plently more Newton material to fill 2 or (probably) 3 more volumes, if this sells well.
But while I like Newton's work, these stories by Rozakis, O'Neil, Wolfman and Conway, are not the best work by any of these storytellers. Despite that some of these writers have done some of the absolute best Batman stories elsewhere, these stories do not represent their best work on the series.
If you want to see the very best and most influential Batman work, seek out BATMAN ILLUSTRATED BY NEAL ADAMS vols 2 and 3, or BATMAN: STRANGE APPARITIONS , or the more recent Marshall Rogers Batman hardcover, or Miller's BATMAN YEAR ONE and DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.
But if you already have these, Newton's stories here are some nice artwork, and (like Aparo's B & B run) are another nicely illustrated BATMAN run of the period to explore.