Back when I was a young kid and just starting to realize the artistic worth of comic books (gasp!), there were a few names that stood out more than the others.
I absolutely loved the Len Wein/Berni Wrightson Swamp Thing issues. I loved Joe Kubert’s war covers and the rare (at the time!) full stories I could find. I absolutely loved the Archie Goodwin/Walt Simonson Manhunter stories.
And I loved, loved, loved the work of Neal Adams.
Mr. Adams’ artwork during those years was nothing less than absolutely stunning. He essentially brought Batman into the “modern” age and out of the campy realms he inhabited in the fifties and most of the sixties. One could make a reasonable argument that Mr. Adams, along with primary (though not only) writer Denny O’Neil, resurrected and refined Batman into what he is now, one of the most popular and recognizable comic book characters of all time.
Which makes me sad to read this interview Neal Adams made with The Beat, found at the link below:
Where to begin?
Yes, the opinions expressed in the interview may be exaggeration or done in jest…and it may be difficult while reading the actual words to get his “tone”. However, even while allowing for that, the picture of the man presented in this interview, sadly, is not a terribly pleasant one. I can certainly understand defending your work, in this case the Batman: Odyssey mini-series he delivered a year or two ago.
Well, what can I say? He’s proud of having Bruce Wayne/Batman almost tell Alfred “fuck you”? Here is the full explanation by Neal Adams in the interview:
“I have a little thing in there that I just planted for people who really pay attention where Bruce Wayne is pissed off at Alfred, right, and Alfred just isn’t taking any shit from him. And he’s pissed off, and Alfred turns his back on Bruce and you can see Bruce is about to say something and then Alfred says, ‘Before you say that,’ but Bruce has got his mouth in a position where the only position, the only or one of the few words that you say from that position is “Fuck you” He’s got that F-sound, right? So you can look at it if you look at his face you know he’s gonna say ‘Fuck you Alfred!’ And Alfred says, ‘Before you say the thing you’re gonna say…’ [laughs]
While many were turned off by the plot of Batman: Odyssey (it was, I admit, more than a little confusing), to me the worst sin Mr. Adams committed in the series was in his characterization of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Yes, the character is fictional and authors can choose (provided the powers that be let them) to portray them anyway they want. However, to me the Bruce Wayne/Batman character came off as, and I’ll be very blunt here, a complete asshole. In that context, I suppose him nearly telling Alfred “fuck you” makes sense, but…is that really the way one should present the hero of a piece? Is this the way our hero should act (and not just to Alfred!)?
Perhaps I’m just getting too old fashioned, but the Batman Neal Adams showed us in the late 1960’s and early to mid 1970’s was a far more noble character than the one Mr. Adams presented in this series.