Review: Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? by Brian Cronin

Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent and Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia!
Brian Cronin

Plume (2012)
288 pages
Comics / Trivia

Buy it here from Amazon

Outrageous, fascinating and bizarre facts from every corner of the comic book universe. What comic book artist was the recipient of an on-stage thank you from Paul McCartney and an on-air apology from Johnny Carson? What superhero got his powers by being bitten by a mongoose? What popular NPR host was forever immortalized as a "bad boyfriend" in a notable comic book? In Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent?, author Brian Cronin will answer those questions and more by revealing the most obscure, wacky and surprising facts about comics—from the characters and creators, to the TV shows, movies and merch. Cronin has teamed up with some of the top comic book writers and artists of today to present 100 trivia lists, including:

·        Nine Celebrities That Guest-Starred in Comic Books…without Their Permission
·        Seven Bands That Got Their Names from Comics
·        Ten Crazy Items Found on Batman’s Utility Belt
·        Five Comic Book Inventions That Eventually Became Real
·        Five Stupidest Superhero Origins
·        And much, much more!

From Batman to Spiderman, Aquaman to the X-Men, each list in Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? will entertain and inform whether you’re a hardcore geek or a casual fan.

Despite my seeming obsession with comics, I don’t have a lot of background with the various standard DC and Marvel superhero series. Their individual universes are so intricate and interwoven that it was always such a daunting task to try to break into those worlds and not feel lost. Therefore the majority of my historical knowledge of the various mainstream comic lines comes from cultural osmosis, movies, animated cartoons, and the occasional graphic novel (generally in the Batman family) that I’ve picked up in recent years.

Therefore I found Brian Cronin’s Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? incredibly interesting and often time hysterical. Cronin runs the Comics Should Be Good blog on ComicResource.com, which is filled with random comic facts and analysis of the regularly ridiculous story lines of comic books both past and present. Having run this blog for seven years, it’s no surprise that he’s collected so much random knowledge about anything dealing with comics.

And this book covers a lot of comic-related things. There are the expected lists about top comic book moments, top covers, most shocking events and things like that, but there are also decade-based lists on weirdest comic book advertisements, bands that got their names from comics, and quite possibly my favorite, the strangest superhero products for kids. Some of the things created in collaboration with comic publishers are really, really strange.

This entire book is just list after list with short introductions for each category. There are also a number of guest contributions from current comic artist and writers, including Geoff Johns, Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Having professionals contribute raises the level of the trivia from that of a hardcore fan to seeming more like an industry insider. Even at moments when the book reads like random bar conversation, it’s obvious that Cronin not only loves his subject, but also did a lot of research and knows what he’s talking about.

Conveniently the book is split into six sections: Comic Book Characters, Comic Book Writers and Artists, Comic Book Storylines, Comic Book Ephemera, Comics & Culture, and Comic Book Movies & TV Shows. I found the sections involving actual story plots and character histories the most interesting, but that’s because many of the lists included names and references to things I didn’t fully grasp. Despite this, the book is full of funny moments and enough random trivia that I felt like I came away with tons of random things that seem useless until faced in a game of Trivial Pursuit.

This book, of course, it not for everyone, but if you have any interest in comic books, especially the history of the mainstream characters, this book is a fun way to suck in a lot of historical information very quickly. It’s a lot of comic knowledge wrapped in humor and the occasional wink to inside references, but it’s definitely a fun book to flip through as a comic fan.