Hearing Neal Adams talk about his career on a couple of “Fat Man on Batman” podcasts really piqued my interest in seeing some of more of his art. Luckily we live in the age of Google. But while a Google search can bring up some samples of his art, it’s really not the same as reading and viewing the original source material.
Enter two collections of Adams’ tenure as the Dark Knight artist from DC.
Of the two, I found the third collection the more interesting one, if only because it includes segments of the early introduction of Ra’s Al Ghul and the illustrations for two Power Records stories featuring Batman that were written and drawn by Adams.
The third collection also includes an issue that “Fat Man on Batman” host Kevin Smith cites as one of his first entry points into the printed world of Batman.
Coming away from the collection, I’m struck by how solid the artwork by Adams is. And how dated these stories seem. Many times it feels like the stories have to work too hard to contain themselves to a single issue (and it feels odd to say that since one of my bigger criticisms of modern comics is the way stories are stretched out past to fill a six-part arc). I get that comics were intended to be more self-contained and welcoming to new readers back in this era, but it still feels like some stories end abruptly. It could be that the threads are picked up in other Batman titles not drawn by Adams, I suppose. I couldn’t help but feel that some type of supplemental material addressing this might have been nice. Or maybe I’m just not versed enough in my Bat-lore.
That said, Adams has some great pieces in this collection. Two of my favorites come from the “Stacked Cards” story on the Power Records