Daniels (Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, LJ 10/1/91) has produced an institutional history, and as such it is fatally flawed. Far too much space is spent on the recent Batman and Superman films, television series, and marketing schemes, while the revolutionary Neil Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow series merits a mere two pages. The Teen Titans, DC's answer to the popular Marvel X-Men, gets short shrift as well. Despite the terrific reproductions of art and novelty items (including a 1954 book entitled The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis), this will prove nostalgic for those who have thrown out their comics, but of little use to collectors or students. In contrast, Harvey's (The Art of the Funnies, LJ 8/94) scholarly study ignores corporate boundaries and attempts to situate the comic book in terms of its evolution from the comic strip to the world of publishing as a whole. Comic books became an entrenched medium during World War II, when they were popular with soldiers who enjoyed the often lurid, sexy detective stories as well as the comparatively cleaner Westerns and superheroes. Harvey details the sea change brought upon comics by the institution of the Comics Code in 1954, which put horror and detective stories out of business and ushered in the primacy of superheroes. He also engages in close, critical readings of the art itself, focusing on the development of the vocabulary of panel, layout, story, and style, and the relationship between writer and artist during various stages of comic book history. In addition, he pays close attention to the masters, including Will Eisner (who merits only two mentions in Daniels's book), Gil Kane, Frank Miller, and Robert Crumb. The reproductions are ample and illustrate the points made in the text, not the other way around. Highly recommended for collections in popular culture and the history of publishing.?Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.