Rare Batmanga available in English after 48 years (Wired UK)


Batmanga
Batmanga

Jiro
Kuwata’s rare Batman masterpiece finally comes westward in unedited
form

© 2014 DC Comics


Print isn’t the only area of comics publishing that Batman is taking over, as
DC prepares to launch classic Japanese manga starring the Caped
Crusader in a digital first format.

From 5 July, DC Comics will release Batman: The Jiro Kuwata
Batmanga
as a weekly digital comic. Issues will be remastered,
accurately translated, and read in the authentic right-to-left page
order, with chapters ranging from 15-32 pages in length. Each
chapter will cost 99c (69p) and be sold through DC Comics’ own app,
comiXology, and other
platforms such as Kindle and Google Play. The entire collection of
Kuwata’s work is collected in three trade paperback collections
later in 2014. Clocking in at over 1,000 pages of content, expect
these to be hefty tomes.

For fans of manga and Batman alike, this is a huge deal,
representing the first-ever accurate presentation of this
near-mythical work in the west. Parts of the series were previously
published in Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan, though
it was unremastered and Kuwata was controversially left uncredited
on the cover.

The manga’s origins date back to 1966, when the Adam West Batman
show became a global phenomenon. In Japan, excitement for the campy
series was so great that Shonen King magazine, a monthly
manga anthology, produced original comics for the local market
under license from DC. Often, American heroes are re-imagined for
Japan but here, Kuwata instead crafted stories starring the
familiar Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson versions of Batman and
Robin.

While the heroes were the same, the villains they faced were
often unique to their Japanese adventures. One of the most
prominent was Lord
Death Man
, a cloaked, skeletal figure who could fake his own
death. After a single American appearance, Kuwata made him a more
important figure in Japan. Another, Professor Gorilla, was a
gorilla with the intelligence of a professor, and clearly Batman’s
greatest enemy. Suck it, Joker. Kuwata’s art and stories were
simplistic, very much aimed at children, but captured a wild energy
and explored rapid-fire ideas each issue, while channelling the
excesses of the TV show.

Kuwata’s work has even impacted the American comics. Decades
after Kuwata’s Batmanga was first published, writer Grant
Morrison would reverse-import elements of the Japanese comics into
his run on Batman
Incorporated
, which saw Bruce Wayne fund international
franchisee Batmen. As well as re-establishing Lord Death Man as a
contemporary villain, Morrison introduced Jiro Osamu as the Batman
of Japan, naming him after Kuwata (and likely Osamu Tezuka,
the “God of Manga”, for the surname)

Via press release, Jiro Kuwata said: “Batman is one series that
holds a lot of memories for me. My hope is that with this, even
more people will read the Batman of my memories.” When the digital
issues launch on Saturday, readers will get their chance to do just
that

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Source: wired.co.uk
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