As you can probably tell from going through our Holiday Gift Guide, we’re readers here at BBP! Today we’re highlighting some recent titles that trace the history of comic book artists, characters and universes. They’re all well worth tracking down for anyone in your life who loves comic history.
Batman: The Definitive History of the Dark Knight in Comics, Film, and Beyond
This book from Insight Editions absolutely blew me away when I cracked it open. First of all, at 400 pages, it is absolutely massive. And then when you start combing your way through, you just become more and more impressed. The book contains the entire history of Batman, as described, and it doesn’t skimp on any of the details. While definitive has to be taken with a grain of salt, since Batman’s world is always growing, this is as good as it gets for Batman fans.
You can purchase Batman: The Definitive History of The Dark Knight in Comics, Films, and Beyond here.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: From Amazing to Spectacular: The Definitive Comic Art Collection
This is another title from Insight Editions and one that I’d consider a must for Spidey fans (of which I count myself). The book is an over-sized hardcover that highlights the work of the many legendary artists who have left their distinct marks of our favourite wall-crawler. Ditko, the Romita’s, McFarlane, Pichelli and so many others have their artistry highlighted within these pages, most of which would look good hanging on your wall (but don’t, because you’d ruin the book). The book also contains interviews with many of the definitive writers from across the many eras of Spider-Man. While not as expansive as the Batman title above, keeping its focus on comics allows all the creators to shine and have their stories told. I found myself gazing on pages for minutes at a time, taking in all the artistry involved in creating Spider-Man’s legendary adventures
You can purchase Marvel’s Spider-Man: From Amazing to Spectacular: The Definitive Comic Art Collection here.
Ditko is…Amazing! King-Size
This title is an anomaly on our list because its an actual comic collection versus historical titles. However, Ditko is…Amazing is as historical a collection as one could ask for. This giant, oversized Marvel hardcover compiles some of the most definitive Amazing Spider-Man tales from legendary artist Steve Ditko. Among the stories is Amazing Fantasy #15 featuring the origin story of Peter Parker; along with the Master Planner story, which is considered by many to be the quintessential Ditko Spider-Man tale. While I’ve only read this book in digital format, I do own a few physical King-Sized Marvel books, and I promise you that this is the ultimate way to look at the work of Steve Ditko.
You can purchase Ditko is…Amazing! King-Size here.
The Marvel Book: Expand Your Knowledge Of A Vast Comics Universe
Keeping our focus on the Marvel Universe, our friends at DK always manage to find great new titles designed to up our insight about the comic world created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko so many years ago. Smaller than the various Marvel Encyclopedias that DK has published over the years, The Marvel Book splits its entries into themes (War and Peace, Alternate Worlds and Divergent Timelines) and then drills down into events and characters. It’s a thorough and insightful look back at 80 years of Marvel history in a small package. As a dedicated Marvel Zombie, I know I’ll be turning to this book again and again.
You can purchase The Marvel Book: Expand Your Knowledge Of A Vast Comics Universe here.
Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Expanded Second Edition)
Back in February 2019, I had the chance to talk to writer and publisher John Morrow about his excellent book detailing the creative lives of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. You can read that right here. Like all great true live tales, there was even more to the Kirby and Lee saga, which meant that Morrow wound up releasing an expanded second edition of his already extremely thorough initial volume. This version contains minor corrections and 16 brand new pages. When it comes to the complicated and complex relationship between two comic book icons, there’s no greater book to read. Historians and fans of Marvel comics and movies will love this one.
You can purchase Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Expanded Second Edition) here.
Mac Raboy: Master of the Comics
I had no idea who Mac Raboy was until a copy of TwoMorrows publications arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago. Turns out, Raboy was one of the most influential artists from the Golden Age of comics, creating Captain Marvel Jr and illustrating the Flash Gordon cartoon strip. Historian Roger Hill tells Raboy’s story in graphic art with a lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched book that shines a light on a name worth remembering.
You can purchase Mac Raboy: Master of the Comics here.