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It was a pleasure to have read this volume along with Newton's realistic artwork. Undoubtedly he deserved to draw the Batman and is a reminder of how important the penciller is in a comic book narrative. Although this tome honors the late Don Newton, it only collects half of Newton's work on Batman for DC. It includes three issues from Batman (305-306 and 328), his only three contributions on the Brave and the Bold - where Batman teams up with the Red Tornado, Dr. Fate, and Man-Bat (153, 156, and 165 respectively) -, and probably half of his work on Detective comics (issues 480 to 497). The majority of the stories here were written by Denny O'Neil. There are other collaborations from Bob Rozakis, Cary Burkett, and Michael L. Fleisher, with Martin Pasko, Marv Wolfman, and Gerry Conway, each one writing a story.
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.