I’m going to work on a Batman collection list. Those new collections I mentioned are really making me want to map out what exists and what could be published to fill in the blanks… It might take quite a damn while, but it’ll be worth it.
Alright, so I noticed a few things while trying to put this thing together. Firstly, there aren’t TOO MANY collections for Batman material before Year One (#403-407). The “New Adventures” volume that just got solicited is one of the only few volumes that are coming out with material pre-Year One. Aside from that we have some Archive Editions and those Batman Chronicles TPB’s which collect earlier issues of the title. And I’m just talking about Batman. Not Detective Comics or Brave and the Bold. Just Batman for right now.
There are also a few “Tales of the Batman” books which mostly collect material based on which ARTIST is involved. Those are nice, but I prefer volumes organized by writer because you then get a book that has more narrative coherence, so the only Tales book that I’m looking at buying is the Len Wein one that’s coming out in the near future, and that’s one of the very few books that collects material between the Archives/Chronicles, and Year One.
So I have a few proposals about how DC could collect this material in good ways if they are indeed looking to collect the entirety of Bruce’s adventures. Here we go…
For the first 200 issues, the Golden and Silver Age material, I propose eight OHC’s (or standard HC’s, I’m not being picky) that each collect 25 issues of the series. These first 200 issues are a bit more difficult to break up by writer because a huge portion of them were actually written by Bill Finger himself, and the rest are by a random lot of writers who either don’t have sequential runs through multiple issues, or they only do one or two issues here or there (and often each issue has two or three different stories by different writers). The only writers who I can say did a lot before 200 are Gardner Fox and David Vern Reed. The latter did a lot after 200 though, as well, but I wouldn’t say to put either writer into their own Tales of The Batman collections because it’d be easier to do something like this…
So yeah, it’d be a nice and easy, and frankly attractive way to collect the material. It looks like DC has quit with the Archives and Chronicles volumes, so a newer line of collections like this wouldn’t be a bad idea, and they could even be labeled as “Golden Age” and “Silver Age” if they wanted to.
Now, after issue #200 there’s a clear stylistic difference as we go forth into the Bronze Age stories. From 200-300 there are really three major writers on the title. The aforementioned David Vern Reed, Frank Robbins, and Dennis O’Neil. There are lots of writers who did single issues here and there, but it was mostly those three guys. Easiest thing to do? Give each of them their own creator specific volumes, like they have been doing with the Tales of the Batman volumes. Neither of the three really has too huge of a run that they’d have to be separated into multiple volumes, except maybe for Reed because of the fact that he’d been working on the title since before #100. But again, I’m not counting other titles like Detective Comics, and I know that if the writers received collections based on their work then they’d include work from EVERY series they worked on. That said, I’ll figure out later these guys ENTIRE Batman bibliographies and then comment on that.
So then we get to issues 300-400. There are four main writers for this chunk, one of which already has a volume for his material (Wein). The others are Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, and Doug Moench. I think each of them deserves their own volume, but Moench deserves the most focus. Up to this point he has one of the most solid runs on the series without any breaks, from issue #360-400, and he returned to the title later on, for which most of his run is already collected. That fourty issue chunk, though, would make for a really nice OHC set, or even better, an Omnibus. Considering his important as a Bat-Writer I wouldn’t hesitate to say Moench deserves to see his work all collected.
So then we get to post-400, and that’s where a lot of the material has already been collected. I’ll have to come back to this again with what needs to happen for the uncollected stuff from #400-500 because after 500 is where we start seeing constant Bat-crossovers like Knightfall, and that’s where we can easily assume what books will be published, like the new editions for Contagion and Legacy and others.