This is an academic textbook, a revised version of the author's doctoral thesis. Most comics' fans, I guess, have a rough idea of the history of Batman: wartime crimefighter, 50s SF, 60s camp, 70s social relevance, 80s revisionism, 90s films and animated series. Brooker's survey is chronological, but comes to some interesting new insights - Batman's forays into wartime propaganda were surprisingly rare, the growth of comics fandom was engineered by the publishers themselves. Pride of place, though, is a radical reinterpretation of Seduction of the Innocent, the fifties book that first raised the question of a gay subtext in Batman and Robin's relationship, which comic fans have long equated with the McCarthyite witch-hunts.
There's an interesting analysis of fans and fandom, and how fans who take Batman seriously equate this with a serious Batman, seeing any hint of humour or camp as aberrant. While Brooker demonstrates there are common elements to all Batman tales, there is plenty of room for all manner of interpretations and versions of Batman - Adam West is just as valid as Frank Miller, Brooker's Batman contains multitudes.
Anyone after pictures (not an unreasonable request, given the medium under discussion), go for Les Daniels' 'Complete History' series instead. But this is almost certainly the most intelligent and informative analysis not just of Batman but of the production and reception of comics. There are insights into fan psychology here which ought to make this book a key text in the study of 'fandoms', and the analysis applies as much to other series with a cult following (Doctor Who and Star Wars, for example) as it does to Batman or other superheroes.
The acid test, though, is that it made me want to seek out some of the stories being discussed. It's a labour of love, as well as a rational, balanced analysis. It's an expensive book, it won't be to everyone's taste, but it's an important, informative and entertaining study.