For Your Consideration: Legends Of The Dark Knight: Jim Aparo

Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo HC

Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo HC


by Robert Greenberger

In 1968, Dick Giordano left Charlton Comics to join DC Comics as an editor, encouraged to bring along a handful of talent. While Steve Ditko was the most recognizable artist to come over, with his work on The Creeper and Hawk & Dove hogging the spotlight, perhaps the most creative work was being done on a more familiar character. Aquaman, a relatively staid feature, received a shot in the arm as Giordano assigned the series to writer Steve Skeates and artist Jim Aparo. With their Search for Mera story, they helped propel sales and got people talking about the feature for the first time in years.

As a result, Aparo’s artwork became desired and he was suddenly scooped up in the wake of Aquaman’s cancellation to work on features such as The Spectre and Phantom Stranger, but it was editor Murray Boltinoff who recognized the man’s versatility and used him as Nick Cardy’s replacement on The Brave and the Bold.

Aparo’s work, while reminiscent of Neal Adams, had an energy and a grit to it that made it stand out in the crowd. His work was clean and dynamic plus his versatility proved invaluable as the Caped Crusader met up with all manner of hero and villain. In time he was promoted to Batman proper and became closely identified with the character for the 1970s-1990s. Much of his work has gone unreprinted except for selected Showcase Presents volumes including The Spectre, The Phantom Stranger, and The Brave and the Bold. Finally, DC is collecting those B&B tales in full color beginning with Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Volume One. This book will collect B&B #98, 100-102 and 104-122 letting you see him handle Batman along with Robin, Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Teen Titans, Deadman, Wonder Woman, The Demon, The Joker, Aquaman, and The Atom. If you haven’t seen these before, you are in for a treat.

If nothing else, Bob Haney’s scripts are packed with intrigue and adventure, atmospheric and explosive, spotlighting Aparo’s storytelling strengths.

Keeper of the Aquaman Shrine, Rob Kelly, told me, “Jim Aparo’s work brought a sense of urgency and almost an film noir-ish feeling of danger to Aquaman, which was a perfect complement to the more high-stakes, character-driven scripts of Steve Skeates.

“Aparo had important, memorable runs on Aquaman in both the ‘60s and the ‘70s (in Aquaman and Adventure Comics, respectively), cementing his reputation to many Aqua-Fans as THE Aquaman artist, a tremendous accomplishment considering the Sea King has had many so fine artists illustrating his adventures.

“He was one of Charlton’s top talents, and when he moved on to DC he became of their top talents. Whether it be the jungle adventures of The Phantom, the groovy comedy of Tiffany Sinn, C.I.A. Agent, the fantasy world of Aquaman, or the gritty urban world of Batman, Aparo could handle any feature and make it distinctive.”

Batman & the Joker by Aparo.

Batman & the Joker by Aparo.


Meantime, Jim Beard, an expert on the artist’s legacy, noted, “Back when I was cutting my comic book teeth, there were two artists who defined ‘my’ Batman: Irv Novick and Jim Aparo. What an amazing thing, to make your indelible mark on a character who’s been handled by a multitude of creators over several decades. Aparo’s Caped Crusader stands out in stark contrast to other such interpretations in my mind, the kind of visual style you hunt for after the original is gone and to which no one else quite measures up.

“The key Aparo book for me will always be, of course, The Brave and the Bold. That was the title where you looked forward to every single issue to see what Jim’s grace and style would do for each of Batman’s co-stars; his was a clean line and clarity of vision that simply could not do any character any harm whatsoever. For such a quiet guy, his dynamism and detail leapt off the page. Boy, do I miss him in this modern industry.

“Any book, any project at all, that seeks to encapsulate Jim Aparo’s work in a single spot for all to see and wonder at how he did it is a good thing indeed.”

Trust us three; this is one book you don’t want to miss, back when the DC Universe was colorful with solid writing and terrific artwork.

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Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo HC

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