Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #310: Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Matmanga, Vol. 3

Since I'm making myself write a substantial post about a book every day, I can't just get away with saying "this completes the trilogy of books collecting Jiro Kuwata's TV-inspired Batman comics, originally published in Japan in the mid-60s. See my posts on books one and two for more details."

That would be cheating.

But, frankly, there isn't a whole lot more to be said for these comics. They're quirky, in that they're exercises in one genre transposed into another genre, but they're not otherwise all that distinguished. Kuwata, or his studio, drew a fairly sedate Dick Sprang Batman in a somewhat bland Osamu Tezuka world. His Batman is boring in the way a lot of Batmen tend to be boring, particularly in that era: stolid and self-satisfied and about as interesting as a lamp-post. His villains are quirkier, but they're all on-offs, a parade of misfits, habitual criminals, and mad scientists who get to show up, emote wildly for a short time, and then have their nefarious schemes foiled forever.

So Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, Vol. 3 collects what I'm told is the rest of those stories -- seven two- or three-part serials that originally appeared in Shonen King and Shonen Gaho during 1966 and '67. (There's a table in the back of this book, particularly aimed at Bat-fanatics, listing all of the Kuwata stories, where they appeared in Japan, and the original American source of the plots and ideas.)

These stories are all modeled on US Batman stories, from Batman and Detective, of the same era, which Kuwata changed to fit a Japanese sensibility. Those US stories aren't reprinted here -- maybe the next time this idea comes around and is reprinted in ten or twenty years, we can see the US and Japanese versions of the same ideas right next to each other, for parallax.

Right now, though, what the Kuwara books do is illustrate the odd question "what if the early '60s Batman was a Japanese science hero instead?" Well, it would be like this.

No comments:

Post a Comment