The Batcave Companion

By Michael Eury and Michael Kronenberg

The All-Star Companion Volume 4

Edited by Roy Thomas

Published by TwoMorrows Publishing

Available now; $26.95 (Batcave) and $27.95

Review by Troy Brownfield

As I’ve remarked at various times in the past, the TwoMorrows “companion” series remain invaluable tomes in terms of comic history. Every installment comes fairly packed with obscure art, informative interviews, and numerous other bits that make them outstanding contributions to the field. Over time, TwoMorrows has trafficked in approaches both general and specific, depending on the volume. For these two recent additions, you get a little bit of both.

The Batcave Companion takes an admittedly huge subject, Batman, and narrows the focus to two particular eras: the “new look” Batman, and the later return to the “creature of the night” take on the character. What results is an extremely fun and informative exploration of the era surrounding the TV series, the introduction of Batgirl, “the oval” and more, progressing naturally into the time of O’Neil, Adams, and the advent of Ra’s Ah Ghul. Much of what makes this great are the first-hand accounts by the likes of O’Neil and Carmine Infantino; their insights are, of course, priceless.

Actually, the whole premise here, of tightening the look at Batman’s history, practically begs for future installments. After 239 pages, complete with Rogues Gallery highlights and individual issue-by-issue examinations of important stories, I barely felt like they’d even gotten started. And that’s actually a great thing. I’d like to see them go back and hit the weird ‘50s, the “movie” ‘80s, and more.

It’s kind of appropriate that the BC is begging for a sequel, since I read it in tandem with the fourth in a great series. Led by editor Roy Thomas, various contributors continue to hold forth on all things JSA, and all things related to the JSA. This installment features more on Infinity Inc., JSA solo titles, and the Seven Soldiers of Victory as well as tiny nuggets of gold like some tremendous photos of fans in JSA costumes from 1962 convention.

Perhaps my favorite feature here was a complete index of the entire run of Infinity Inc.. While the separate essays and interviews are great, nobody knows this material like Thomas. As writer of All-Star Squadron, Infinity Inc., and Young All Stars, he kept the Golden Age alive through the ‘80s, laying the groundwork for the successful JSA titles of today. I also commend everyone involved for putting together an index of the Golden Age-related stories from Secret Origins, a title edited by Thomas contemporaneously with his writing on those other series.

If you’ve never checked on the Companion books, you should definitely give them a try. Batcave would actually make a great starter. Certainly, if you have an interest in comics history and care about hearing it straight from the creators that experienced it, I don’t know that there’s a more comprehensive, ongoing effort anywhere in the market than in the various books and magazines of TwoMorrows.

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