While I am quite aware that “mangalicious” is not a word, I’m willing to extend the reaches of my use of the English language for its allowance when describing Chip Kidd’s Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan.

We’ve seen how well the splicing of anime and Batman turned out with summer’s amazing Gotham Knight movie; now Chip Kidd takes a turn by giving us a Batman and manga duo. So why “mangalicious”? Because this book was highly addicting, and extremely interesting—I couldn’t get enough of it! My only real gripe is the same issue I had with the Harry Potter book I recently reviewed—it’s too short. But this thing isn’t thin: The problem is … it’s so juicy, you’ll flip through it so fast it’ll feel too short.

The book reads like a traditional manga: from back to front, right to left. I’ve read more than a few mangas, so it wasn’t any trouble getting used to the format again; for those who lack practice, the panels of the actual comics inside are numbered for your convenience—so it’s even easier to follow and also quickly learn how to read a manga properly. Great idea, Kidd.

Throughout the book are Batman manga sketches and covers, both in color and black and white format. There are also pictures of various—and often very amusing—Japanese Batman paraphernalia.  The book begins with an introduction by the author, followed by an interview with Jiro Kuwata, who drew Batman, Robin, et. al (including a new array of villains as well as fresh takes on cemented ones) manga-style for Shonen King.

But the best part is, of course, the mangas. The book features “The Terrible Clayface Encounter,”  “The Revenge of Clayface Part 2 &3,” “Lord Death Man Part 1, 2, & 4,” “Go-Go the Magician Part 1 & 2,”  “Dr. Faceless Part 2,” “Professor Gorilla’s Revenge Part 2 & 3,” and “The Man Who Quit Being Human! Part 1, 2, 3, and 4.” Unfortunately, the last story is the only serial that is complete in this collection, but the others are certainly enjoyable and understandable as they are presented.  It is a bit frustrating, however, that the remaining stories leave the reader hanging and begging for more, but I understand Kidd’s desire to offer you as much of a range as he could in his 352-page book. And I’m glad he did, because all the stories are fun and intriguing.

The mangas were inspired by ’60s Batman tv show, but fortunately these are much better in quality. 😛 (The art is great, too.) Styled like old Batman comics—as simple, mystery storylines—with just a tinge of the ’60s campy flavor, while most of these comics are cheesy, they’re not overly so—especially when they’re compared with old American Batman comics.

Bat-Manga! is a real treat for any Batman fan, and it’s something most of us won’t see much of. So not only do I recommend it for the experience alone, but Kidd’s collection is fantastic. I only wish he’d put together a second installment!

Available in both softcover ($20, right)  and hardcover ($38, left) versions.

UPDATED: Here are a few pages from Kidd’s book. These are from the “Lord Death Man” and the “The Man Who Quit Being Human!” story.

3 Responses to “Mangalicious”

  1. hmm, This is different. I would like to see what the artwork looks like.

  2. Your wish is my command! Check the end of the post.

  3. “Ghoul! Take that!” ha ha. It’s like classic Bats.
    Thanks for the sneak peek. I might have to pick this up.

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