Sometimes you grab a book and it's so fun, so entertaining and so awesome that you just can't put the damn thing down. So here are my top ten reasons why I couldn't resist Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent?
1. The list of topics on these lists is wonderfully diverse and impossible to resist. Cronin gives us "15 Alliterative Names Created by Stan Lee," and "6 Tragic Super-Hero Romances" and "3 Unusual Ways that Creators Have Broken into Comics." If you can resist ideas like that, then I'm sorry, sir or madam, you don't love comics enough.
2. The book has guest writers galore writing fun and insightful pieces. Skottie Young takes on "4 Artists with Bizarrely Unique Styles', Eric Trautmann on "3 Underappreciated Science Fiction Comics," Jeff Lemire on "3 Amazing Postapocalyptic Comics," Scott Allie on "6 Bob Dylan References in Comics."
3. No matter how much you think you know about comics, every page has a lesson for you. I never knew that John Byrne would draw Barney Rubble into rubble every time he drew a building falling down. That's awesome.
4. No surprise for a Cronin book, the research is impeccable and cool stories are everywhere. Who knew that Aunt May was near death at least six times in Spider-Man comics, including the time that vicious NYPD beat May at an Elders Rights rally. Yeah, the cops hated the Seniors in the '70s.
5. Zeb Wells's list of "5 Best Stories Starring Peter David's Very Badass Hulk" has totally sold me on that run of comics and now I have to start reading that outrageous shit!
6. And to read Jay Faeber's spirited defense of — well it needs to remain a secret for a moment — in his list of "3 Underrated Comic Book Runs" goes more against the grain than anything I've read for a long time.
7. This book has a ton of ideas that I can unabashedly steal for Comics Bulletin's Top 10 lists. Umm… with credit and attribution. Of course.
8. This is the perfect bathroom reading book. No offense to anyone who worked on this book, but I've seldom read a book that's better tailored for that short attention span. The problem is, you can get sucked into the book and worry all your friends who are waiting on you to start a new round of Halo.
9. Besides the folks I mentioned, there are lists by J.M. DeMatteis (very insightful), Peter David (funny), Greg Pak, Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, John Rozum, Marc Sumerak, Gabriel Hardman, Frazier Irving, Mike Deodato, Mark Millar, Geoff Johns, Fred Van Lente, Dave Gibbons, Paige Braddock and Mark Waid. Talk about an all-star cast!
10. Dammit, now my list of back issue comics to find has now gotten insanely long again!
If you're the kind of person who finds reading list after list about comics to be the equivalent of smoking crack cocaine — one puff is enough to get you hooked and you can't help yourself from wanting to come back for one small but amazing high after another — then Brian Cronin's new book is totally the high you're looking for.
Oh, and why does Batman carry shark repellent? Because he needed it. Twice.