Who made the Batmobile? Why did Robin have chain mail over-underpants? Where is the secret entrance to the Batcave? These are just a tiny few of the myriad questions answered in Joseph McCabe’s 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, out October 15 from Triumph Books.
A thorough study
On the surface, “one-hundred things” seems like a narrow lens for looking at a character with so extensive a history as Batman. And there will certainly be Batfans who read McCabe’s book and wish it hadn’t omitted that one thing that matters to them the most. But 100 Things nonetheless manages to pack far more than its name implies into over four-hundred pages of history, interviews, character studies (including plenty of villains), and more. All but the most cynical of fans should find something to like here.
While consuming all of this information can turn you into a pretty impressive Bat-scholar overnight, I had the most fun picking through topics at random, treating the book as more of an encyclopedia than a textbook to be consumed in sequence. McCabe doesn’t have any particular order that I can discern, except that the origin of Batman comes first, and Batman v Superman comes last. Between those points, however, there is no strict chronology or grouping. From a practical standpoint, this makes it much harder to quickly find a topic—but it does make a clearer statement about what the book is: a compendium of the many timeless facets of the Bat, his world, and the world that birthed him.
Something for everyone
The subject matter in 100 Things covers various media, so whether you live and breathe comics, or have never picked one up, you can flip to the topics that matter to you and skip the rest. There are features and interviews along the whole spectrum, and chances are, you’ll have your horizons broadened, even if your focus is narrowed by prior interest.
Amidst all of the great information, however, McCabe often slips into editorializing about what he’s covering (especially films—watch out, BvS fans). His passion is evident, even beneficial at times; but I feel as though there is a line he could have walked that he doesn’t—one on which he could have been both honest and considerate instead of implicitly belittling certain groups of fans. I agree with pretty much everything he says, but in a book that covers such an extensive and varied character as Batman, McCabe should take greater pains to ensure that the tent is big enough for as many fans as possible.
Thankfully, the information presented is still exhaustive and interesting, and there’s plenty of quotes inside and outside of the interviews that let the actual players in Batman’s history speak for themselves. Comics fans will love the interview with Jerry Robinson, for its insights not only into the origins of Joker and Robin, but also into Batman co-creator Bill Finger and what it was like working with him. McCabe also includes interviews with other creators, as well as key figures from Batman: the Animated Series and the various films.
Certain sections of 100 Things may alienate some fans, but overall, this is an impressive and diverse assortment of Bat-facts that could find a home on any fan’s shelf. McCabe’s passion is evident, and is his greatest strength: more than mere trivia, this book captures the excitement, entertainment, and gravitas that have given the Dark Knight an enduring legacy and a promising future. Find it on Amazon today, or in book stores October 15.