BATMAN ALWAYS WINS: My Batman Christmas List
But that doesn't mean we can't celebrate the season Batman-style! It's not too late for your loved ones to make 2009 a very Bat-holiday. What should the enterprising Bat-fan hope to see under her tree, menorah, or non-denominational symbol of seasonally appropriate joy? Here's a few ideas...
The Batcave Companion
If there is one essential reference-type book on the Caped Crusader's history, this is the one. A terrific TwoMorrows publication in the tradition of their many other comics history and culture volumes, The Batcave Companion dives deep into two of Batman's most popular and acclaimed eras: The "BAM! POW!" sixties and the "Dark Knight" seventies. Co-writers Michael Eury and Michael Kronenberg clearly know their stuff and provide tons of fun and juicy background details, along with an issue-by-issue overview of every Batman comic published during the timespan covered. My favorite parts were the in-depth Q&As with key figures such as Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, and Dennis O'Neill. I've been meaning to write a true full-length review of this great book for a while but in all honesty, I'm still reading it, and I've had it a month. That should give you an idea of the depth and breadth of the information covered. (FYI, it's also a terrific companion read to the Showcase Presents: Batman series, which starts off right where Batcave Companion's coverage starts and tracks pretty much right alongside the book.)
Batman: The Brave and the Bold Action League Toys
I'm pretty much out of the whole toy collecting scene; too expensive and requires way too much space. But every once in a while, something in a Target toy aisle will grab my eye and tempt me to uncork my wallet. I haven't broken down over these AWESOME minifigs from the new Brave and the Bold cartoon series, but it's just a matter of time. They're small and slightly poseable in the style of the Marvel Superhero Squad figures and feature characters who've been depicted on the show. Since the series is plenty quirky, this means you can actually own a GENTLEMAN GHOST ACTION FIGURE. This is an astonishing fact.
An "Official" Burt Ward-Authorized Batman Googaw
The sixties Batman TV series is a controversial era for some, but as I've probably mentioned, I grew up on it and totally bought it as "serious" drama until I got older and started to recognize the camp. I sorta love it for both reasons. Anyway, Burt "Robin" Ward has his own extensive website and collection of Batman-related merchandise. You gotta love some of the splashy bright pop-art images selected for these items, most of them taken from the show's opening and closing credits. Honestly, the items are a bit pricey, but there's no denying their coolness. Well, their relative coolness, as compared to other ceramic coffee mugs depicting comic book characters and sold by aging teen idols from sixties-era television shows.
The Batman Annuals, Vol. 1 (DC Comics Classics Library)
There's gotta be at least one actual honest-to-goodness Batman comic book on this list, right? I've been slowly working my way through this volume of classic Batman reprints, and it's a technicolor high-contrast jolt of pure pop effluvia, bringing together the first three Batman annuals which themselves reprinted a bunch of classic stories from the forties and fifties. This is full-on Batuniverse expansion time, with all the crazy alternate costumes, the full Bat-family in effect, and the occasional bodily transformation, I expect. The reproduction is magnificent and it really has the feel of a nice archival volume. Plus Amazon will knock a few bucks off the cover price and throw in free shipping.
The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told
If you or your loved ones are invenerate cheapskates, what better way to shop than through Amazon's authorized used booksellers? This is an even BETTER sampler of Batman comics than the Annuals volume above, and if you're okay with a used copy, it's available for 79 CENTS plus shipping. That's under five bucks, folks. I read the covers off this thing when I was thirteen. Its initial release was right around the first Batman film, and it's packed with good stuff--not just stories from every era of the Batman's career, including the critical members of his supporting cast and rogues gallery, but informative essays detailing the key points in Batman's history and discussing some of the stories that didn't quite make the cut.
The Hero Initiative
Batman would no doubt highly approve of a donation to The Hero Initiative, the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Even better, buy a T-shirt and get sweet threads AND help others. I myself am hoping Santa brings me this Tom Scioli winner.
Giving is truly what the holidays are all about, and not just for Batman, but for everyone who wears T-shirts. Merry Crimble and have a gear new year!