The Boy Who Loved Batman

 

by Michael Uslan

 

Chronicle Books

 

Reader Appeal: Teens and adults

 

Genre: Memoir

 

PopFam Rating: B+

 

When Mikey Uslan was in third grade, his buddy Barry Milberg gave him some startling news: There was a new superhero comic book that starred four exciting characters (Barry couldn't remember exactly who they were)--BUT they were only available at Old Man Tepid's store.

 

According to Mikey, "Going into Tepid's meant taking your life into your hands. You went in only when there was no hope of finding a particular comic at the other stores within a bike-riding radius of Asbury Park."

 

Undaunted, Mikey screwed up his courage and braved his way through Tepid's front doors. The old man was there, wearing a Hitler mustache and frowning (as usual). As Mike looked through the racks of new comics, Tepid pounced, "Quit reading them comic books, kid! This ain't a library," he said. "You bend it, you buy it! And if you ain't got the ten cents, I'll lock you up in the bathroom in the back of the store!"

 

Mikey shook like a leaf as he scanned the comics, but he discovered his buddy Barry was right. There was a new superhero team--a group that Marvel comics was calling the Fantastic Four. After a moment, the third-grader dropped a dime in front of Tepid to purchase a copy. I'll let Mikey tell you what happened next:

 

"He stared at me with his Hitler eyes and Them-antennae-like eyebrows streaked with white, and he stormed over to his comic book rack. He picked up the other three copies of Fantastic Four #1 I had been sifting through and raged at me. 'You looked at ALL of these! And now they're ruined, boy!' I didn't know I could spoil a comic book simply by looking at it. He demanded that I now buy all four copies and wanted three more dimes or I'd never leave his store...Thank God I had 30 extra cents in my pocket. It was the emergency change my mom had figured I might need some day for an extra milk or chocolate/vanilla Dixie cup. In abject fear, I handed over the rest of my money to this comic book terrorist."

 

Well, little Michael Uslan, survived his close encounter of the comic-book-bully kind, and grew to be an insatiable fan of all kinds of superheroes--so much so that he taught the first college-accredited class on comics when he was a teen. Then worked for DC Comics as a young adult. Then managed to buy the film rights to DC heroes like Swamp Thing and Batman...and even became the multi-million dollar producer of all the blockbuster Batman movies of recent history (including Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises).

 

Uslan tells his whole story (Tepid and all) in the rousing and entertaining book, The Boy Who Loved Batman. His fanboy-fueled quest to reinvent Batman for the big screen takes a few side streets on the way to its destination, but the scenery along the way is still a fun ride.

 

Lushly produced with four-color interior artwork and oversized hardcover binding, Michael's journey is a trip that Dark Knight fans in your home will want to take. Reading The Boy Who Loved Batman is like sitting around the dinner table listening to a beloved uncle tell a few yarns from his childhood. Maybe some of the facts have been embellished, but so what? Just hearing stories about creeps like Old Man Tepid, or the time Michael and his friends crashed a press briefing of then-presidential candidate George McGovern is still worth it all.

 

Oh, and by the way, it turns out that Old Man Tepid actually did little Mikey a favor. Today an original, 10-cent copy of Fantastic Four #1 is worth over $50,000...and Michael Uslan owns FOUR of them!

 

Teen and adult comics' fans will enjoy The Boy Who Loved Batman, but one warning for parents:

 

Be aware that because of some adult subject matter and the author's frequent (though usually funny) use of profanity, some may find the content of this book to be unsuitable for their children or for immature teens. Parents are encouraged to read The Boy Who Loved Batman first to determine if it's appropriate for their kids

 

--MN

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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