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Book Review: The Essential Batman Encyclopedia by Robert Greenberger

# Genre: Nonfiction, Graphic Novels
# ISBN: 0345501063
# ISBN-13: 9780345501066
# Format: Paperback, 496pp
# Publisher: Del Rey
# Pub. Date: June 2008
# Author Blog

When I was a young preteen, one of my favorite things to do was to go to the library and check out a copy of the Star Trek and Star Wars encyclopedias. My library record must have shown these books being checked out at least twenty times each. Reading them was like re-watching the shows and movies, and each blurb that followed a particular characters name or a place, or starship name added just that much depth and enjoyment to the tale. It is this same impulse that will lead inveterate Batman fans to devour The Essential Batman Encyclopedia by Robert Greenberger from cover to cover.

The massive tome is a compendium of all things from comic book Batman. It does lack any information on the movies and TV shows, seeming to ignore that they (which until Batman Begins, were very unpopular among true Batman fans) ever existed. But Batman is ample source material. First appearing in 1938, Batman has had along career fighting criminals in Gotham City. Greenberger has delved deep to find every last tidbit of information he can.

Readers may also be disappointed that this large book is in a paperback form. Like most encyclopedias, this book will be used as a reference, and therefore will often be thumbed through and being shelved and re-shelved. The paperback cover is unlikely to stand the test of time that collectors and fans would prefer.

Although pictures are prolific, most of them are of the black and white variety. For a comic that has almost always been published in color, the lack of it in this encyclopedia is saddening. Even though early Batman could look rather campy compared to today’s standards, it was still fun to view in its simple colors.

The articles are well written, however. Greenberger writes concisely and to the point, ensuring readers get the story behind the characters, the places, and the history. Some of the articles take up so much room they are almost short stories in and of themselves, and Greenberger is careful to make sure your interest is maintained and that the articles do not fall into a bare recitation of the facts. When writing an encyclopedia about a fictional world, such maintenance of story is essential, and Greenberger should be applauded for doing so.

Ultimately, The Essential Batman Encyclopedia is a worthwhile addition to their shelves for fans of comic book Batman. Moviegoers and Adam West fans will find the book less than useful. While this book may be essential it is definitely not comprehensive. Be aware of this fact, and you will be able to enjoy it on its face. I found this book to be good, but not great, due to its self-limitation to only the comic book world of Batman.

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