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The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture Hardcover – 24 Mar 2016
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"A roaring getaway car of guilty pleasures—film gossip, comic-book esoterica, hilarious tales of nerd rage. . . . Weldon writes with humor and Day-Glo élan." —Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
"Smart, witty and engrossing." —The Wall Street Journal
"The Caped Crusade is a great read for those who are proud Gothamites, those less initiated, and those who flip the switch on the Bat-Signal in order to find themselves. . . .A sharp, deeply knowledgeable and often funny look at the cultural history of Batman and his fandom...both a page-turner and a Riddler Trophy." —Chicago Tribune
“Engaging. . . . What Weldon ultimately achieves here is a character and comic-franchise history that is itself flexible enough to become what the reader needs it to be. If you’re a Bat-neophyte, this is an accessible introduction; if you’re a dyed-in-the-Latex Bat-nerd, this is a colorfully rendered magical history tour redolent with nostalgia.” —The Washington Post
"For fans of Gotham’s Batman, this is the perfect book to pick up before you head to the movie. . . . Even casual fans will find themselves quickly turning pages to learn more about how our comic heroes affect and even shape our everyday lives." —Bookish
"[The Caped Crusade] accomplishes what so many supervillains, from The Joker to Bane, have long desired to do: pin down Batman and systematically dissect him. Weldon navigates Batman's history with an expert step...a winning mix of humor, and incisive social analysis. Even his footnotes are funny. Under that famous cowl, he sees ugliness, wonder, and the undercurrents of pop culture in all their conflicting glory." —NPR
"Writing a book about Batman is tricky. He is a cultural icon deeply meaningful to many because his story touches on themes of loss, adversity and perseverance. Also, he is an implausible character who defies laws of physics and common sense every time he swoops on gun-blazing lunatics. Weldon successfully walks the tightrope, showing reverence for the character but keeping it fun." —Associated Press
"Excellent, insightful. . . .Weldon has crafted that rare jewel: a book of comics analysis that nerds and “normals” alike can enjoy." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Sprawling in scope, yet written with breezy flair. . .An enthusiastic, immersive, entertaining guide for both die-hard Batfans and curious onlookers." —Kirkus Reviews
“The Caped Crusade is breezy, insightful, and surprisingly moving. Glen Weldon is the illuminating, hilarious writer Batman deserves—and the one we need right now.” —DC Pierson, author of The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To and Crap Kingdom
"Simply put, The Caped Crusade is the best book I’ve read this year....Highly addictive reading, with just the right blend of comic book history and nerd culture analysis." —Comic Book Herald
"The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture doesn’t read like a history book, and it’s not just due to the author’s fantastic storytelling. Weldon informs the reader of the history of Batman with a passion that can be found in any tried and true Batman fan and with a level of knowledge I’ve never encountered before. It is the book that Gotham City deserves, and I can’t recommend it enough." —ComicsVerse
“Weldon, a critic for NPR, offers possibly the most erudite and well-researched fanboy manifesto ever.” —Booklist
“There's no better time to stop, relax, take a breath and read NPR critic Glen Weldon's history of Batman…Because here, in these entertaining pages, you will discover that nerd rage over the Dark Knight is nothing new.” —Mashable (Geek Book of the Week)
“[A] smart, engaging dissection of Batman’s pulpy comic-book roots, his rise to campy ’60s TV stardom, his takeover of toy shelves and his resurrection as the dark knight of the silver screen.” —Parade
“Sinkinginto the pages of ‘The Caped Crusade’ is the next-best thing to debating who’sthe better Batman.” —Detroit Free Press
"Anyone familiar with Weldon’s frequent NPR appearances will delight in this book’s near-perfect translation of his verbal and comedic sensibilities. Its tone is reverent and analytical, acknowledging the absurdities of Batman and celebrating its wondrous appeal in equal measure." —DCist
"Strikes a seemingly impossible balance in its own right, serving as both a reasonably concise crash course in the character’s history and an astute pop-sociological analysis of what this all means. . . . It’s at once brisk and breezy and exceedingly well researched and lovingly constructed, offering something for both nerds and 'normals' alike in a time when the nerds have won." —Playboy
“If you looked at Glen Weldon’s utility belt, you’d find wit, humor & endless knowledge about Batman. Thankfully he's condensed that utility belt into a book where you will learn the origin, the ups, the downs and the sideways of one of the most iconic bat-based superheroes of all time.” —Kumail Nanjiani, comedian and star of HBO’s Silicon Valley
“This is the hero’s journey of Batman from a raw idea of a character to a cornerstone of pop culture. Weldon pulls the back the cowl and reveals us—creators, performers and fans—all collaborating to shape a modern myth that bends with the times to endure. Once I started, I kept reading every chance I got.” —Jeff Parker, writer of BATMAN ’66
"The Caped Crusade is seriously informed, daringly opinionated and endlessly charming...It’s not just a book about Batman, its Nerd Culture’s origin story." —Guy Branum, host of Pop Rocket
About the Author
Glen Weldon has been a theater critic, a science writer, an oral historian, a writing teacher, a bookstore clerk, a movie usher, a PR flack, an inept marine biologist, and a slightly-better-than-ept competitive swimmer. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Slate, The Atlantic, The Village Voice, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and many other places. He is a panelist on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and reviews books and comic books for NPR.org. The author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography and The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, he lives in Washington, DC.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
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Like Weldon, I became a fan of Batman in syndicated reruns. I've read the comics sporadically but was always more of an X-Men girl. That said, Batman has always been a favorite precisely because of the lack of superpowers (except, yanno, money) and the intensity (insanity) that seemed inherent in his role. Weldon brings all of the appreciation of a fan but with an unsparing (and fun to read) critical view.
This is one of the few books I've read this year that I'm recommending to everyone I know.
Overall, you really could not ask for a better tone for the subject (I teach a college class on comic books and American Culture, and I can say that most books on the subject take themselves entirely too seriously). And I very much appreciate how careful Weldon is to blend his very well researched history of Batman with his analysis. Brilliant book. Even better audiobook.
Weldon’s device of nerds versus normals works well in treating this pop cultural phenomenon. He focuses on how these cultures defined the Batman idea over time. What might have been interesting would have been to have asked how Batman’s changing image reflected who we were as a people over time. What did the original Batman fighting those who bilked the rich say about an America coming out of the Depression, and what does the ultra-violent Batman of today say about our uneasy society?
This book is a romp through the decades of Batman from his first appearance in 1939 as a rich guy defending the rich right into this decade, in which Batman is, in print and on screen, more often than not the Dark Knight who fights shocking crimes against the city of Gotham, a superhero who revels in his “badassery.” After the camp Batman of the 1960s TV show, the nerds, who hated that unserious (or, rather, unseriously serious) depiction of the Caped Crusader, have gradually won the day as Batman embraces the nerds’ idea of him.
Weldon, an articulate and amusing podcast panelist, writes the way he talks, which means he uses sometimes precious and quirky expressions like “a bolus of gothy showbiz.” To read Weldon’s prose is to encounter this persona that Weldon projects on “Pop Culture.” You either like it or you don’t. It certainly seems appropriate in the context of superhero pop culture.
I found Weldon’s book a pleasure to read. The nerds versus normals thesis aside, Weldon provides a terrific summary of the Batman phenomenon. Those curious to learn more about the various aspects of Batman will certainly be grateful for and delight in Weldon’s annotated bibliography, which follows the book proper.
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