Batman Black and White
Cover of Batman Black and White #1 (June 1996) by Jim Lee and Scott Williams.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
ScheduleMonthly
Title(s)Batman Black and White
FormatsLimited series
Genre
Number of issues
List
  • (vol. 1): 4
    (vol. 4): 6
    (vol. 5): 6
Main character(s)Batman
Creative team
Writer(s)
Artist(s)
Editor(s)
List
Reprints
Collected editions
Volume 1ISBN 1-4012-1589-0

Batman Black and White refers to the comic book limited series published by DC Comics featuring 8-page black and white Batman stories. Volumes 1, 4 and 5 of the series feature all-new stories (published in 1996, 2013–14, and 2020–21, respectively), while Vol. 2 and 3 contain stories from the back-up feature of the Batman: Gotham Knights comic book.

The series represents the first DC Comics work for future Co-Publisher Jim Lee, who drew the debut issue's cover, and the final DC work for Alex Toth, who drew the fourth issue's cover.[1]

Publication history

The origin of the series is told by editor Mark Chiarello in his introduction to the first collection, in which he writes about a dinner table-discussion with "a few famous comic-book artists", at which they pondered the "desert island" question in terms of a single complete run of comics one would be happy to be stranded with. Ultimately, with "half a minute"'s thought, they "amazingly... all agreed, pound for pound, page for page" that the unequivocal choice was Warren Publishing's Creepy, a high point unmatched since "there has never been such a collection of stellar artists assembled under one banner publication" as in Creepy, whose pages were host to (among others) "Toth, Frazetta, Williamson, Torres, Colan, Ditko, Wrightson, Corben etc." Chiarello notes that "most of those stories" were written by one man: Archie Goodwin, described as "probably the very best editor ever to work in comics, probably the very best writer ever to work in comics" (and early mentor to Chiarello when the two worked at Marvel), whose Warren work was itself an "homage to the favorite comics of his youth, the E.C. line".[2]

When Chiarello became a Batman editor "a whole bunch of years" later, he naturally "pitch[ed] the idea of a black and white anthology". Told by many colleagues that it would not sell - both because it was an anthology and because it was a black-and-white title, neither of which were purportedly widely liked by comics readers - the idea was green-lit, and Mike Carlin and Scott Peterson joined Chiarello to "make sure [he] didn't destroy the integrity of [Batman]".[2]

Chiarello's initial thought, which was "to hire the very best artists in the business" led him and Peterson to assemble a wish list of creators to contact. The series ultimately became "a creative and financial success" when the first four-issue volume was published between June and September 1996.[2] There was also a free preview issued in 1996.[3] Each of the four issues featured several self-contained short-stories, all written and drawn by a diverse group of comic artists and writers, most of whom had previously worked on Batman comics. Each story varied in theme, setting, and tone (depending on the creative team involved), offering multiple interpretations of Batman - and, in some cases, his supporting characters - usually by exploring their inner pathos and relationships.[citation needed] The series was the first DC Comics work for future Co-Publisher Jim Lee, who drew the debut issue's cover, and the final DC work for Alex Toth, who drew the fourth issue's cover.[4]

Contents and synopses

Volume 1

This contains all-new material.

Issue #1 - June 1996

Issue #2 - July 1996

Issue #3 - August 1996

Issue #4 - September 1996

Pin-ups

The first volume also included single-page pin-up renditions of the Caped Crusader by:

Volume 2

Collects back-up stories from Batman: Gotham Knights #1-16[6] with five new stories.

Contents

Volume 3

Collects back-up stories from Batman: Gotham Knights #17-49 (mostly edited by Mark Chiarello, Bob Schreck and Michael Wright).

Contents

Note: "The Gasworks" is the only Black and White story to include color - red permeates the story, the color of both the hallucinogen and the blood. This is likely the reason this story was moved to the end of the volume.

Volume 4

This contains all-new material.

Issue #1 - November 2013

Issue #2 - December 2013

Issue #3 - January 2014

Issue #4 - February 2014

Issue #5 - March 2014

Issue #6 - April 2014

Volume 5

This contains all-new material.

Issue #1 - December 2020

Issue #2 - January 2021

Issue #3 - February 2021

Issue #4 - March 2021

Issue #5 - April 2021

Issue #6 - May 2021

Pin-ups

The fifth volume also includes single-page pin-up renditions of Batman by:

Collected editions

Volume 1 was subsequently collected as an oversized hardcover and then reprinted as a trade paperback in 1998. In September 2007, it was reissued in a "new edition" in normal comic-sized trade paperback format (ISBN 1-4012-1589-0).[8]

Volume 2 was initially published in September 2002 as a hardcover book (ISBN 978-1-56389-828-0). It collected the black-and-white Batman back-up stories from Batman: Gotham Knights #1-16, as well as five never-before-published tales. The five new stories were subsequently included in later issues of Batman: Gotham Knights. Volume 2 was released as an oversized softcover in October 2003 (ISBN 1-56389-917-5).

Volume 3 was published as a comics-sized hardcover in May 2007 (ISBN 1-4012-1531-9). It collected the black-and-white Batman back-up stories from Batman: Gotham Knights #17-49. A softcover edition was released in 2008 (ISBN 978-1-4012-1354-1).[9]

Volume 4 was published as a comics-sized hardcover in July 2014 (ISBN 1-4012-4643-5). A softcover edition was released in January 2015 (ISBN 978-1-4012-5062-1).

Omnibus was published as a hardcover in December 2019 (ISBN 978-1-40129-573-8). It collected the first four volumes.

Motion comics

Warner Premiere, Warner Bros Digital Distribution, and DC Comics produced semi-animated adaptations of several of the Black and White short stories and released them as motion comics. The motion comics were produced and directed by Ian Kirby and feature an original musical score by composer Adam Fulton and voice-actors, such as Michael Dobson as the voice(s) of Batman, the Joker, Thomas Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth, John Fitzgerald as Commissioner Gordon and Two-Face, Janyse Jaud as Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Martha Wayne and Joseph May as Superman. Currently 10 episodes divided into two seasons are available via online streaming off of TheWB's website. The episodes are also available for purchase online via Apple's iTunes Store and other distribution channels, such as Amazon's Video On Demand for $0.99/two-episodes.

Season 1 Episode List (debuted on 12/8/2008):

Season 2 Episode List (debuted on 7/23/2009):

Critical reaction

IGN Comics ranked Volume 1 of Batman: Black and White #13 on a list of the 25 greatest Batman graphic novels, saying: "Though having just eight pages to tell a story can certainly be confining, it also proves to be liberating. Forced to scrap complex plots but create something indelible, these tales are often parables, send-ups or unforgettable vignettes surrounding the Batman".[10]

Merchandise

Statues

Artist David Mazzucchelli with the statue based on his artwork in the series at a June 28, 2012 book signing at Midtown Comics in Manhattan
Artist David Mazzucchelli with the statue based on his artwork in the series at a June 28, 2012 book signing at Midtown Comics in Manhattan

Several Batman: Black and White statues have been released by DC Collectibles. Some of these are based on designs used by various artists for their contributions to the three volumes of Black and White stories, but the line has expanded to include artwork from other titles as well as other characters.

Action figures

Starting in June 2018, some Batman action figures were re-released as black-and-white variants. They come with base stands that are similar to the ones used for the statues.[11]

Mini PVC sets

Starting in May 2019, DC released mini PVC versions of some of the statues. These PVC versions were released in grouped box sets of seven at comics shops and in blind bags/boxes elsewhere.[12]

Awards

Notes

  1. ^ Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Dark Age 1984–1998". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. p. 574. ISBN 9783836519816. Only fate understood the juxtaposition of having the first cover [to the series] be Jim Lee's debut as a DC contributor and the last be Alex Toth's final contribution, placing the star artist of DC's next decades against the artist's artist of its Golden and Silver ages.
  2. ^ a b c Chiarello, Mark "Introduction" in Chiarello, Mark and Peterson, Scott (ed.s) Batman Black and White (DC Comics, 1998) ISBN 1-56389-439-4
  3. ^ Batman Black and White Preview (1996) at the ComicBookDB. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
  4. ^ Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Dark Age 1984–1998". 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. p. 574. ISBN 9783836519816. Only fate understood the juxtaposition of having the first cover [to the series] be Jim Lee's debut as a DC contributor and the last be Alex Toth's final contribution, placing the star artist of DC's next decades against the artist's artist of its Golden and Silver ages.
  5. ^ a b c 1997 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners, Comic Book Award Almanac
  6. ^ DCU Guide: Gotham Knights Archived 2009-02-09 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
  7. ^ DCU Guide: Gotham Knights #9 Archived 2009-02-09 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
  8. ^ Batman: Black & White Volume 1 - New Edition, DC Comics.com. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
  9. ^ Batman: Black and White Volume 3 Archived June 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, DC Comics.com
  10. ^ The 25 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels, Hilary Goldstein, IGN, June 13, 2005
  11. ^ "DC Collectibles - Batman Black and White Figures, New Statues and More - The Toyark - News". toyark.com. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Batman with Baby Darkseid Statue (Yes, Really) and Other New DC Collectibles Coming in 2019 - IGN".
  13. ^ 2003 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners, Comic Book Award Almanac

References