So well all know that I like manga and we also know that I love comics, right? Do you know what makes me go weak at the knees? Western properties done in a manga style. Cue a brief history of Bat-Manga!
The Japanese adventures of Batman and Robin. We all know about the 60’s right? Batman had his own TV show and everybody was enjoying his success in the West. In Japan, someone decided they’d also like to enjoy the reign of the camp crusader so along with a bizarre toy line featuring the dynamic duo in various weird colour palettes the show was brought to Japan.
To help it sell, manga magazine Shonen King commissioned Jiro Kuwata to create a manga following Batman and Robin. Fun fact for all you manga experts, Kuwata was a co-creator on the manga 8-man.
Kuwata was given some material from Batman creator Bob Kane to get him started. The output from the manga, of course, highly differed from what we were used to in the West. None of Batman’s rogue gallery appeared, instead Kuwata created characters like Lord Death Man, a character which Grant Morrison introduced to mainstream continuity in his Batman incorporated series. A book which followed Bruce Wayne setting up a Batman in every nation.
The same Death Man story appeared in the cartoon Batman Brave and the Bold episode Bat-mite presents: Batman strangest cases!
Kuwata admitted that the stories he wrote were more mature and realistic to the ones he’d read as he tried to appeal to a Japanese audience. The origin of this project began with a DC artist Dave Mazzucchelli touring Japan and stumbling on the Japan’s brief Batman obsession.
Later on Batman 60’s Japan fanatic Chip Kidd made friends with a fellow fanatic and revealed he had found examples of the manga. Eventually the material was translated and published when DC realised they’d discovered a gold mine of forgotten material.
A follow up to the collection was promised but has yet to materialise.