Monday, October 3, 2016

Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert

In reviewing the history of this blog, I am nonplussed to find that there are zero result for the term "brennert." How, I ask myself, is this possible? Is the search just missing something? Or did I really go 7 years without mentioning some of my favorite comic book stories of all time?

I won't go into a lot of detail on Alan Brennert's background here. If you are so inclined, you can find out more about him and his impressive career here and here. What's important for our purposes is that I realized as soon as I read his Batman stories in the 1980s that they were among my favorites. I am not alone in this thinking. Alan Brennert's comic book work is justly revered, which is even more astonishing when you consider how few comics he actually wrote.

Though Brennert's work has often been reprinted, it had long been a dream of mine to have ALL of it collected between two covers. I even expressed this wish to Mr. Brennert himself, and while obviously enthusiastic about the prospect, he was skeptical at the chances of it happening. He wasn't a big enough "name" to carry such a book, he reasoned, and besides, he wasn't even sure if he was remembered by DC Comics at all.

But in a surprise move for those of us on the outside, TALES OF THE BATMAN: ALAN BRENNERT was solicited earlier this year. And despite its title, it *does* reprint ALL of Alan Brennert's stories for DC Comics. True, a Wonder Woman two-parter he plotted for Marty Pasko is omitted, but that one doesn't even feel like it's part of the same body of work. Brennert's Deadman tale from CHRISTMAS WITH THE SUPER-HEROES is included though, as is a truly fantastic Black Canary story from SECRET ORIGINS. So this collection is essentially "complete."

Ahhhh, but if Batman is in the title, he must be the main draw. Brennert made quite the splash when his first story as a scripter was chosen for the lead slot in DETECTIVE COMICS #500. This was followed by a series of team-ups in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, including a Batman/Catwoman pairing I have often cited as my favorite Batman story and one of my favorite stories ever. Finally, several years later, there was BATMAN: HOLY TERROR - a Prestige Format one-shot and an early "Elseworlds" project. Oh, and a short meeting of Batman and the original Green Lantern entirely in black and white rounds out the chronicles of the Caped Crusader contained within.

And to be clear, everything in TALES OF THE BATMAN: ALAN BRENNERT is outstanding. I am less of a fan of HOLY TERROR than I am of the rest, but that has more to do with my personal taste than quality. It also helps that these stories are blessed with outstanding art from such luminaries as Dick Giordano, Jim Aparo, Joe Staton, George Freeman, Norm Breyfogle, and Jose Luis Gracia-Lopez. It's an outstanding package and one I highly recommend to anyone interested in comics.

I had been pretty much out of comics for the last couple of years, but this book sort of lured me back (tentatively) into the fold. To make it even better, it came out around the time of my birthday, and was one of the nicest presents ever. You can find the book on Amazon here.