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Batman: Strange Apparitions (Batman Beyond (DC Comics)) [Paperback]

Steve Englehart , Marshall Rogers
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1999 Batman Beyond (DC Comics)
Journey inside the mind of the Dark Knight Detective in this collection featuring the best of 1970s Batman stories.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics; Gph edition (Dec 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563895005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563895005
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 16.9 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 974,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Indianapolis, he went to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He studied Psychology because people fascinated him, but in getting his B.A. he learned that psychology didn't describe real people, so he became a writer.

Living the Young Creator's life in New York, he got to be drinking buddies with an editorial assistant at Marvel Comics. One night the e.a. called to say he was going on vacation for six weeks; would Steve like to fill in for him on staff? Steve would, and once in the door at what was then a very small operation, he got a shot at writing a comic. It was a failing series called Captain America -- but six months later it had become Marvel's leading seller, and Steve had all the work he could handle. He became Marvel's lead writer, adding The Hulk, The Avengers, Thor, Dr. Strange, and half a dozen other series. Then he was hired away by DC Comics to be their lead writer and revamp their core characters (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern). He did, but also wrote a solo Batman series that readers dubbed the "definitive" version and broke the long-standing barrier between comics readers and the mass market. All comics films since Batman in 1989 stem from that.

After Batman he traveled around Europe for a year and wrote his first novel, The Point Man. Since then he's designed video games for Atari, Activision, Electronic Arts, and others. He's written animation for Street Fighter and G.I. Joe. He's written mid-grade books for Avon, including the DNAgers series, and Countdown to Flight, a biography of the Wright brothers selected by NASA as the basis for their school programs on the invention of the aeroplane. And he's written more comics, like Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer, which led to the San Diego Comic-Con calling him "comics' most successful writer, having had more hits with more characters at more companies than anyone else in comics history." He created The Night Man, which became a live-action television series.

Most recently, The Point Man has engendered a series of novels from Tor, beginning with The Long Man.

Product Description

Amazon Review

From the depths of DC Comics' illustrious archives comes this little gem from 1977 when The Dark Knight was returning to his dark roots but, amazingly, was regularly getting a sales pummelling from Marvel's arch-rival Spider Man. These classic tales represent the beginnings of Batman's return to critical and commercial success, remaining a stand-out segment in Detective Comics' decades-long run.

This Batman is the classic grim avenger: a battle-hardened professional who nightly faces a ghastly menagerie of assorted villainy; from twisted madmen(The Joker) and hideous monsters (Clayface, Dr Phosphorous) to corrupt bureaucrats (Boss Rupert Thorne) and vengeful criminals (The Penguin, Deadshot). And if that wasn't enough, Batman faces the dual headache of a fiendish plot by mad scientist Hugo Strange to steal Bruce Wayne's identity and juggling a beautiful girlfriend with his hectic life.

Complementing the beautiful and impressive artwork by Marshall Rogers--all moody and foreboding--writer Englehart creates short, sharp adventurous tales while skilfully managing an ongoing story line, and imbuing hitherto unexplored depth into the Bat-mythos. Bruce Wayne's inner conflict between his dark alter-ego and his love for Silver St. Cloud is superbly handled (and since much repeated) and Englehart provides a marvellous twisted logic as to why The Joker will never kill his nemesis a she deserves: "The Batman! What would be the fun in humbling mere policemen?" This is a definitive template for the modern Batman, showcasing taut drama, action and mystery. An essential history lesson for Bat-fans. Danny Graydon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillant 31 Dec 2008
Really great 70s Batman book. Merges old school characteristics with the true dark essence of Batman,a great story that combines lots of notable villains such as Penguin,Joker,Clayface & Hugo Strange.

The panels and art look awesome; one bit where Batman swings down upon a prone Deadshot and takes him out hard through the glass window of a building is really cool. Batman ready to strike on a broody silent night,the art really reminds you how good Batman is to read in a comic. I'm sure this run influenced a lot of Batman stories written after it and was a kind of creative catalyst to say Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb when they were devising stories and ways to challenge what was/still is such a complex amazing character. The book makes Batman take on everything imaginable in this; gangsters,assasins,psychos,supervillains.

It's a truly good old Batman book and it really taps into many of the issues that will be brought to Batman for the 35 years or so after it was released. It's such a good example of Batman becoming cutting edge for comic writers in terms of what he can go through,decisions he needs to make and consequences of his choices.

Definitely recommended, it's a pity this "collection" (although it is a coherent story in many ways) isn't more well known. It would also be a good way to begin reading Batman,along with obvious books like Year One.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Before the brooding "Dark Knight" 23 Mar 2013
`Year One', `The Dark Knight Returns', 'The Killing Joke', 'Arkham Asylum', `The Long Halloween', `Hush'... These are probably the main titles that any casual reader of Batman graphic will be familiar with. But there's another title which deserves to be on that list, perhaps more prominently so than most of the others there, and yet even many of the more seasoned Batman readers won't be familiar with it. This is `Strange Apparitions' or, more specifically, the issues from the creative team of Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers (collected more recently in Legends Of The Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, which doesn't include the opening issue of `Strange Apparitions' which Rogers didn't draw). This is a story from the late 1970s which captures the essence of Batman perfectly and, along with Frank Miller and Alan Moore's work on the character, would radically influence the 1989 Tim Burton `Batman' movie. Written before he became the brooding "Dark Knight" we're now so accustomed to, Englehart and Roger's Batman was gritty while fun, and harkened back to Batman's pulp 1930s origins, and the carefree "detective" era of the 1960s. The whole thing reads like a labour of love to a character that the creators clearly cherish and get. If ever there was a quintessential Batman story, this is it, perfectly capturing an aspect of the character which most creators since Frank Miller have failed to grasp.

This book is actually a collection of interconnected stories by different creators (two writers and two artists, but mostly Englehart and Rogers), which are tied together through the continuing narratives involving Bruce Wayne's latest love interest, Silver St. Cloud, and the Robert Thorne criminal empire.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pages Alive With Atmosphere! 27 Mar 2002
By Psychedelic Cowboy - Published on
It was a dark and stormy night. (or should that be Knight?) "It's Joker weather," says Commissioner Gordon. "True Commissioner," says Chief O'Hara, "But it's also tailor made for him!" The Batman is a character who needs lots of atmosphere. Darkness, rain, lightning, tall dark buildings, smoking gangsters, skinny trees bereft of leaves, all this and more fill the very affordable paperback collection of some of the best Batman stories ever produced. BATMAN: STRANGE APPARITIONS collects the beautifully drawn and superbly written DETECTIVE COMICS 469-476 and 478, 479 from 1977-1978. Some have called these issues "the definitive Batman." It was these stories that got the ball rolling on making a big budget and serious Batman movie and you can definitely see that many of the ideas from that movie came from these stories.
These pages are alive with atmosphere! Artist Marshall Rogers' panels literally drip down the page and capes slither behind the storyboards. Rogers sometimes lets the design of his panels tell the story as much as the art within them. When characters talk on the phone the panel's edges are drawn like phone cords. Sometimes panels rest on top of full-page illustrations that most artists would weep before covering up. Rogers is teamed for the most part with the incredibly talented inker Terry Austin. Together they provide pictures that are at once moody and sharp and exquisitely defined. When Batman menaces a thug you believe it. When Bruce Wayne has a nightmare you feel it. This artwork is a joy to look at and if the story were rotten it would still be worth buying this collection just to see the Batman look like the Batman should!
As the tale begins, Bruce Wayne has given up living at Wayne manor and he and his loyal butler, Alfred, have moved to a luxurious penthouse in the heart of Gotham. This makes it easier for the Batman to prowl the night. The first two issues, drawn by Walt Simonson (later of THOR fame) before Rogers came on board, sets the stage for what is to come. Bruce Wayne meets the beautiful and intriguing Silver St. Cloud and falls head over heels for her. But their romance is interrupted when a scheming white collar criminal, who has been turned to phosphorus (which burns on contact with air he loves to scream), decides to take revenge on the city that he believes is responsible for his fate. Dr Phosphorus contacts the corrupt city official "Boss" Rupert Thorne and agrees to spare his life if he will get the Batman off his back. Though Batman defeats Phos (of course) Boss Thorne continues to use his political power to undermine the Batman through the rest of the novel.
Hugo Strange, a great character who appeared long ago in BATMAN #1, is brought back from the 1940's. Strange has a hospital for the rich needing privacy that is actually a place where he drugs and mutates and blackmails them into doing his bidding. It isn't long before he captures millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and (gasp!) learns that he is really Batman. Hugo Strange is an interesting character who seems to admire the Batman as his only equal. "Truly a life of genius is a lonely one," he says. Strange is killed by Boss Thorne, but don't count him out! He is the "strange apparition" the book is named after. He haunts Boss Thorne all through the book and even helps the Batman out a time or two.
Next, the Batman faces off against the Penguin and another character from the golden age of comics, albeit retooled for the 70's Deadshot. All the while he dodges the machinations of Boss Thorne and as Bruce Wayne falls deeper and deeper in love with Silver St. Cloud, who by this time has discovered that he is Batman. After all, she "has spent many nights studying his chin." The bittersweet romance between St. Cloud and Wayne is so thick you can taste it, and for the reader extremely satisfying. It is rare to see the Batman obsessing over a woman as he flits through the darkened Gotham streets, but that is what he does. But he has little time for mooning because his next opponent is the maniacal Joker.
"My world goes CRAZY sometimes," thinks Batman as he considers all the things that are piling up on top of him at the beginning of "The Laughing Fish." The Joker has another insane plan and is on a killing spree. There are some beautiful scenes between the two archenemies and the Joker is portrayed as delightfully chilling and insane. His laugh is described as "raining down like ice cubes." The two Joker issues are my personal favorite Joker stories. He is deadly, evil, menacing and doggonnit FUNNY! The Joker never takes himself too seriously - except when he does. And if you don't know which way he is taking himself at the moment - he'll kill you. You gotta love a guy like that (from a DISTANCE!)
The plot lines of Silver St Cloud, Boss Thorne, Hugo Strange and The Joker all come to conclusions, but I won't spoil them for you.
The paperback ends with a pair of stories featuring a new Clayface, written by Len Wein and continuing with the beautiful art of Marshall Rogers. Clayface is a somewhat tragic figure who is in love with a wax dummy. Wein does a good job conveying this and keeping it sad rather than comic.
STRANGE APPARITIONS features an all-new cover illustration by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin and a foreword by Steve Englehart? It is attractive and easy to read without cracking the spine. It gives you 10 classic comics for thirteen bucks - such a deal! And Like any good compilation, this one ends too soon and leaves you begging for more. Unfortunately that more will have to come from back issue bins - at least until someone decides to collect Englehart's Justice League America!
Highest Possible Recommendation!
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good sampling 27 Jun 2005
By Corum Seth Smith - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book "Strange Apparitions" is an anthology of a section of Detective Comics in the 1970's. There are stories featuring the Joker, Clayface, Dr. Phosphorus, Hugo Strange, and the Penguin. Reading the book shows that this was one of the high points of the Batman series.

Also this book contains the classic Joker story, "The Laughing Fish." This is one of the best Batman plots of all time. The Joker commits one of the most unusual and inventive crimes of all.

This also explains how Hugo Strange came to know the identity of Batman. Some of the episodes of "Batman: the Animated Series" are inspired from these comics. If you are a fan of the animated show from the '90s, you'll also appreciate these comics, the inspiration for some of those cartoons. On a side note, the animated series is one of the greatest works of television, fictional or non-fictional, I have ever experienced. The comics from the "Strange Apparitions" era provided much of its inspiration.

So this is a good sampling of the Batman and his exploits.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Batman? 29 Sep 2000
By Brian G. Philbin - Published on
Certainly one of the best runs ever on the Batman - portrayed appropriately by writer Steve Englehart not as a psychotic, vengeful terrorist of some sort but as an adventurer/detective born of a lifelong desire to see that no child would come to the end of their childhood as violently as he had. Justice being the goal, but not at the expense of life (any life), he adopted this identity to work with law enforcement, in a manner which they could not. Artist Marshall Rogers appropriately renders the Batman with the build of a gymnast/martial artist - fitting for one skilled in all manner of each and inker/embellisher Terry Austin brings further character and mood to these renderings. There might well be a better depiction of the Batman, but one would be hard pressed to find it. Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" from the mid-1980's (which is said to have inspired the Batman films in the late 80's) is often cited as the height of the Batman's lore, but was intended as a tale outside the current Batman stories - a story of a possible future, 10 years after his retirement and a tale of hope and redemption mired in a dark, grim and gritty world. Unfortunately, those who followed Miller focused solely on the "dark, grim and gritty" and superimposed that mood upon the character of the Batman. "Strange Apparitions" by Engelhart and Rogers is, in my own opinion, a much better rendition of the Batman. Beautiful art and engaging story for juvenile fiction fans old and young alike.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Batman in his finest hour 30 Nov 2005
By Brian C. Grindrod - Published on
During the late 1970s, DC managed to entice writer Steve Englehart aboard on Detective Comics. At Marvel, Englehart had repeatedly proven his skills and imagination on titles such as Avengers, Captain America and Incredible Hulk. Teamed up with Marshall Rogers on pencil and coloring, they created classic stories where today, their version of Batman is regarded as one of the authoritative alongside that of Frank Miller, Dennis O'Neil & Neil Adams, Dick Sprang and of course, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and Bill Finger's.

The first instalment starts off with the introduction of Dr. Phosphorous and the corrupt Gotham City Councillor, Rupert Thorne. Englehart also presents us a new love interest for Bruce Wayne, Silver St. Cloud. The good doctor has made very few appearances since then (notably in Starman) but Thorne has become a feature villain in the animated television series while St. Cloud served as the template for Vicki Vale's persona in Tim Burton's blockbuster film. Both characters also serve as important elements throughout Englehart's epic run on Detective Comics.

Unfortunately, the first two instalments in Strange Apparitions is not representative of excellent pencil work on behalf of Walt Simonson. Perhaps the fault can also be attributed to inker Al Milgrom but the result is art that is flustered, flat and lifeless. Do not expect the type of visual which made Simonson's Thor, Fantastic Four and Orion memorable masterpieces. However, the events and characters' presentation solidly sets up the stage for the next seven chapters in Englehart's story arc.

Marshall Rogers pencilled back up features in Detective Comics #466, #467 as well as a full length story in issue 468 prior to being assigned as regular artist on the duration of Englehart's tenure in '77 & '78. The decision to pair him up with Englehart as well as adding inker Terry Austin to the creative team was another genial one by editor Julius Schwartz. With Rogers' stylised pencil work, angular structure and keen sense of cinematic poses, his Batman appeared more sleek & athletic instead of bulky and muscular. It is quite reminiscent of Jim Starlin's unique style on Captain Marvel except that Rogers' anatomy and facial structures are more realistic.

Rogers also strongly emphasizes background scenery and the architecture of Gotham City. It brings a vivid grandeur to the stories' setting. Combined with Englehart's prominent scribing, their depiction of Bruce Wayne is simply not a facade for the Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same. Englehart strongly emphasizes the man behind the mask without resorting to poorly personifying psycho babble melodrama that has been so prominent since Jim Starlin's departure from the Batman title in 1989.

The team's first effort offers a story which represents a villain which had long been forgotten but yet appeared in the historic first issue of Batman. Thirty-five years after his last appearance, Hugo Strange was reintroduced to a new generation of readers. In a classic plot twist, Strange discovers Wayne's alter-ego. A pivotal point that paved the road to his obsession with Batman in many subsequent story lines in which this villain appeared in.

While Englehart revitalized Hugo Strange and built upon the character's Golden Age foundation, the next four chapters features two of Batman's greatest arch foes. "The Malay Penguin" also marks the guest appearance of Robin who in the last two instalments plays a minor but important role. The complicity and friendship between the two is well depicted as they thwart another outlandish caper by Oswald Cobblepot. As the romance between Silver and Bruce evolves and takes center stage, a subplot is inserted as the 'ghost' of Hugo Strange haunts his murderer, Rupert Thorne. This tale also demonstrates Batman's detective prowess and skills as well as Robin's admiration for his mentor.

In the next chapter, Englehart totally revamps a throw away villain from yesteryear. A character which became instrumental in John Ostrander's Suicide Squad series and fortified him as one of the deadliest maniacs in Batman's Rogue Gallery. In a story which seems to pay homage to Dick Sprang's outlandish "props" from the Golden Age, Deadshot is now a menace in very sense of the word. The Thorne-Strange subplot ensues but another becomes full blown as Batman's mask cannot fool Silver's keen sense of observation about her lover's physique and facial features. A woman's passion for her man will indeed make it very hard for him to conceal his physical features, body movements as well as his voice. Even if that man is shrouded in a cap and cowl. I guess Batman should have tried a pair of glasses instead!

"The Laughing Fish" and "Sign Of The Joker" stories are considered as the paramount confrontation between Batman and Joker since their first clash in 1940. Englehart severs all ties from Joker's dreaded Clown Prince Of Crime persona and brings him back to his Pre- Comic Code Authority roots. His camp Silver Age characterization now makes place for his true homicidal disposition. Joker's psychotic nature is even more prominent as he holds Gotham City hostage to pay monetary fees for fish which bears his grinnish resemblance. Which of course, is of his own doing. Only Frank Miller and Alan Moore have been able to exquisitely portray Joker's genial and demented psyche as well as Englehart. Subsequent writers and story lines have all been a mockery and pale echo of the standards which Englehart set with the character in this epic two parter. Its impact is still felt in the Batman mythology because 22 years after it was published, Englehart extended upon it in a two part story featured in the Legends of the DC Universe series (issues 26 & 27).

The last two instalments marks a shuffle in the creative team. Dick Giordano replaces Austin as inker while Englehart's position is succeeded by Len Wein. Giordano's influence is quite evident as his heavier inking style slightly alters the look of Rogers' dynamic pencil work and layout. Wein's writing on the two part story introducing an utterly deranged villain establishes why he has his place amongst comic book greats. Wein is CO-creator of Swamp Thing and one of the masterminds behind the relaunch of Marvel Comics' X-Men franchise.

Perhaps Clayface III is another lunatic amongst many in Batman's extensive and rich Rogues Gallery but Wein manages to separate him from the other two villains bearing the same name by making the reader sympathetic to his plight. His physical deformity and Clayface's failed attempt at a cure only spiralled his high intellectual capacity into the mouth of madness. But a killer is a killer... If your sole introduction to the character was in the creative abortion which appeared in the Detective Comics story arc entitled "The Mud Pack" (issues 604 to 608) during 1989 then I urge you to seek out the 1987 Batman Annual. Only the imaginative and depraved mind of Alan Moore has been able to recapture and evolve upon the terror of Clayface's powers and mindset.

Batman is not about No Man's Land. He is not about Knighfall and certainly not about Bruce Wayne: Murderer wankfest. I fail to understand why DC insists on making a creative artistic mockery with the character by holding the fans hostage with another useless crossover within the major Batman titles and its spin-offs.

Strange Apparitions is a worthy edition for all Batman fans, astute comic book readers and those who wish to enjoy a viable representation of the essence of Bob Kane & Bill Finger's character. Does it hold up to today's comic book production of coloring and separation? No, of course not. Don't be silly. This would be comparing the music produced today with that of 60 years ago based on the sole merits of technology and equipment.

Englehart, Wein and Rogers' offering to the character's mythos and storytelling standards which left its mark on the Batman legacy may be occasionally equalled but rarely surpassed. This is Batman in his finest hour.

Review by Brian Grindrod
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning... 3 Jun 2003
By tha boxx - Published on
This collection of Batman tales remains one of the most engaging, fun, and brilliantly wrought sagas of the Detective's long and storied history. Steve Engleheart pens a classic with the Joker fish, and Silver St.Clair stands as one of the more memorable and alluring love interests that the Batman has had over the years. However, as has been said before (yet cannot be emphasized enough) the real attraction here is the artwork, which (sadly enough) marked the pinnacle of Marshall Rogers' career, and remains one of "the" definitive renditions of the character (alongside such luminaries as Neal Adams, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Alan Davis, and Dave Mazzuchelli- look for their work). Ably abetted by Terry Austin in the height of his prowess (see Essential X-Men vol.2 for more of his very best work with joltin' Johnny Byrne), the Batman as presented in this collection is truly awe-inspiring and larger than life. Or, in other words- THIS BOOK IS BEAUTIFUL! An "art-fan's" delight. Not only that, if you are looking for "classic" Batman- the gentleman detective-cum-player, the swingin' bachelor with a keen intellect and a penchant for fisticuffs, well, you can't go wrong with this one. Top drawer, people, top drawer.
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