If you’re a longtime follower of BOF and listen to my podcast, THE BOF SOCIAL HOUR, you know that I am a lifelong Batman fan of well over 50 years and I also fancy myself an “Amateur Batman Historian.” Thus, I absolutely love books about Batman and the character’s history.
Thanks to Insight Editions, I got an early look at their new Bat-Book, BATMAN: THE MULTIVERSE OF THE DARK KNIGHT AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE written by Matthew K. Manning and illustrated by Flaviu Pop. As the title indicates, it details the different versions of Batman that exist on the various Earths of the DC Multiverse. Some I was very familiar with, and some I had no clue even existed.
Back in the day when I was a kid, I didn’t have to walk 20 miles each way in the snow, rain, or heat to go to school, but I did ride my bike to the local convenience store to buy my comics right off the ‘ol spinner rack. And unlike you young whippersnappers, we only had two DC worlds with two different versions of DC characters — Earth-1 and Earth-2. Earth-1 was the world/universe where the “in-continuity”/current incarnations of DC characters lived, while the Golden Age versions lived on Earth-2. Since then, DC Comics created MANY different versions of their characters via ELSEWORLDS stories, as well as via alternate realities and the many different crises, zero hours, new 52’s, flashpoints, rebirths, and all that sort of bullshit.
In the book, the author of these “encrypted” entries into the Batcomputer about the Batmen (Batmans?) of all the different DC worlds is Barbara Gordon — Oracle/Batgirl — of Earth-0, the primary DC comic book universe. Thus, it’s not written by Manning as a straight-up history book about Batman…though we do get just as much information about the “Multiverse of The Dark Knight” in this form…and maybe it’s a little more entertaining done this way.
I’m not going to list all the different versions of Batman in the book other than to say that all of my favorites are featured — DARK KNIGHT, WHITE KNIGHT, GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT, EARTH ONE, (which is now the new Earth-1, apparently, and the Golden Age Batman stuff and Earth-2, no longer exists…until it does again), KINGDOME COME, RED RAIN, and YEAR 100 amongst a few others. And even the ones I didn’t know and/or don’t like and think are ridiculous, the “Amateur Batman Historian” in me did enjoy reading/learning about each as well as which DC Earth on which they exist.
Review-wise, I really liked BATMAN: THE MULTIVERSE OF THE DARK KNIGHT (AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE). I found the writing and art very entertaining and I even learned a few things.