Saturday, March 15, 2014

It's Been A Pleasure: The "Batman Odyssey" Casebook

A LOT has been written and said about Batman: Odyssey, Neal Adams' 13-issue magnum opus he wrote and illustrated in 2010.  I recently found a hardcover edition of the book at a good price and decided to give it a try, in light of Adams' recent efforts to turn the tide of negative opinions on it...Well, I read it...and I have something new to say about this guilty pleasure read - something that nobody has noticed:

If you own the hardcover edition of this story, then you can remove the dust jacket...and then the book looks like "Volume 2" of Batman: The Black Casebook!

The Black Casebook is a paperback reprint of Batman comics from the 1950's that inspired Grant Morrison's nine year tenure writing for the caped crusader. Morrison wanted to reintegrate material from that decade back into current Bat-continuity, so he came up with a "Bat-X Files": accounts of the Batman's strangest cases kept locked away, much like the safety deposit box in which Doctor Watson kept notes on Sherlock Holmes' cases that were to be kept confidential.  In Batman's case, these would include encounters with space aliens, Bat-Mite, time travel, alternate identities, various identity crises,  documentations on the aftereffects of repeated exposure to laughing gas, fear toxins or Bat-smoke pellets of his own design - all the offbeat stuff.

With this in mind, Batman Odyssey  fits the criteria for labeling it as "A Batman Adventure for The Black Casebook"  or a new edition entitled: "Batman: Odyssey - An Adventure From The Black Casebook". Of course,  DC Comics still uses the Legends of The Dark Knight title/brand on Batman comics, but Odyssey is really a Casebook book. If you own both of these tomes, I suggest you put them side by side and enjoy searching for thematic links between them. The quality of the scripting on both is the same, plus every page is packed with stuff to absorb - for all that's been said about Odyssey, Adams doesn't shortchange you.

So, I hope anyone giving Neal's book a try and feeling a bit dumbfounded about what to make of it after hearing or reading recent interviews in which he suggested you see it as "a book " can rest easy if you see it the way I see a Casebook!

You can rest assured...the same way Batman inexplicably decides to plop down on the floor of the Batcave and take a nap at an early point leading to the book's climax. Goodnight. :)

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