Batmanga: Japan's 1960s parallel universe "New Look" Batman

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In the 1960s, DC comics rebooted its moribund Batman franchise with the “New Look” comics, where Batman returned to his scientific detective roots. Across the ocean, manga master Jiro Kuwata was tapped to interpret the superhero for a Japanese audience, in stark black-and-white, and made Batman into something remarkable, prescient and unmatched. Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, DC is collecting, for the first time ever, the English translation of the Kuwata’s full run.


There was an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!”, that had a segment featuring Kuwata’s Batman, pitting him against Lord Death Man. Campy in the best sense.

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Huh - I had no idea they had Batman comics made in Japan in the 60s. Learn something new everyday.

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I have Chip Kidd’s original Bat-Manga! book and received vol. 1 of the translated comics this Christmas.

The Kuwata comics are fascinating. They are based on comics from the late 50’s and early 60’s but the stories veer off into more interesting places since the manga format supported longer stories and because of this Batman and Robin come off as smarter and more bad-ass then their early 60’s counterparts.

My only regret is that Kuwata gravitated towards the more sci-fi stories and never tackled the classic Bat-villains (most likely because of the aversion to “crime stories” in manga at the time.) I would have loved to have seen his take on Joker, Penguin and Riddler.

Definitely worth picking up, especially if you have read the original comics they are based on. (which are: Batman 165, 180, Detective Comics 304, 319, 347, 353, 355)

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Took me a few before I realized that you have to read the panels from right-to-left for them to make sense.

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I wonder why they didn’t flip them before they lettered in the translation.

Long story short no artist wants to see their drawings flipped and it became a sales gimmick too. It’s not at all hard to get used to reading it ‘backwards’ really so I personally think it’s the best way, tho flipping things makes sense for children’s comics or things presented to a mainstream audience outside of the manga/comics fan ghetto

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Not to mention not everything gets translated. All those katakana sount effects turn into meaningless scribbles. Also shop signs in the background, etc.

They’re actually numbered in reading order - there are tiny little circles with numbers in the bottom left of each frame.

Now I want ‘Here Lies Lord Death Man’ on my tombstone.

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