Batman Unmasked - Will Brooker

Although books focused on superhero comics are not unheard of, such an in depth study of a single character like Will Brooker's investigation of Batman is still a very welcome entry.
In his own words, "This book is an investigation, a detection, a 'forensic examination' of the disparate texts which have borne the signifier 'Batman' over 60 years, in an attempt to reconstruct their context and hence recover the meanings carried by this cultural icon at key moments in his history".

Covering the entire history of Batman can be a daunting task where a detailed study can easily lose focus, but Brooker manages to sustain his perspective by being consistent in his questions that he directs to all periods of history, which he lists as;
-What does Batman signify in this cultural moment?
-What wider context surrounds this particular inflexion?
-What different interpretations govern this meaning, and within which matrix of imposed, 'dominant', delimiting and counter-definitions is it situated?

By carefully defining his objectives, Brooker then moves on to provide a very useful and detailed overview of the history of Batman. Starting with his origins, he discusses how the essentials of the character are established, then moves on to how the Batman franchise opened up to different interpretations, especially with the controversial 60's TV series. While discussing the issue, Brooker demonstrates excellent non-partiality and successfully places his objects within their carefully defined cultural contexts.
His attitude is similarly objective and perpective when analyzing the later incarnations of the Batman, like the 80's Miller graphic novels and movie adaptations by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher.
Although he admits being a fan of Batman and warns the reader that he can not be fully value-free in analyzing his beloved chilhood hero, Brooker's work is the most objective study of a comic book character I have came across until now. He successfully identifies the cultural components of each of the eras that he analyzes and places the relevant Batman titles within them with insight.
For the fans of the Dark Knight, Batman Unmasked will make a revealing read, an excellent demonstration on how personal tastes and preferences can disturb perception.
For all those who are interested in the academic study of comics, Brooker's excellent study is a brilliant example of how a character as complex and layered as Batman can, and should, be treated.
Overall, an excellent read, highly recommended.