Look! Up on 77st Street! It’s Superheroes in Gotham!
I must admit I was always a Marvel kid, never DC, so although reading and collecting comics took up a huge part of my energy, time, money, and imagination during peak grade school years, I'm not sure I've ever sat through an entire Batman or Superman book. Thor, Hulk, the Defenders, Spiderman, Ghost Rider, Black Panther, Power Man, Daredevil, Captain America, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Conan… these were my, not heroes exactly, but certainly constant companions, and just looking at those covers from the early 1970s is like hopping into a time machine back to my fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. So even though the New York Historical Society's new exhibition, Superheroes in Gotham, gives over most of its too-limited space to those two DC bigwigs, Superman and Batman, I still felt some of the magic.
Superheroes in Gotham At The New York Historical Society
Superheroes in Gotham is a simple, self-explanatory concept–comic book icons who did most of their crime-fighting in New York City, however thinly veiled or renamed–that mostly delivers on its promise. Given space constraints (the whole show only takes up two small rooms, though there's a nice surprise in the lobby, too) the curators have focused on the old-school, primarily NYC-born and -raised creators of the most famous characters. So there's Batman and Superman, Spiderman and Wonder Woman (who really has not much to do with NYC at all, but thumbs up for including a woman), Iron Man and Captain America, with pithy takes on their origins and connections to our home, and actual copies of the first issues in which they appear. These are pretty cool to see in person, these first issues.
The Sights And Sounds Of Superheroes in Gotham
Superheroes in Gotham also features some fun and interesting ancillary materials, such as Superman's original costume from the 1950s TV show (it looks surprisingly knitted!); Daniel McDaniel's limited-edition Run DMC comic (doesn't get more NYC than that!); photos from the first-ever Comic Art Convention held in 1976, which spawned the insanely popular Comic Con of today; props from the 1960s Batman TV series; international versions of our favorite caped (and un-caped) crusaders; sketches and the earliest drawings of the heroes. There's also a pretty nifty digital photo booth thing, in which you can choose your green screened rescue-scenario background. I wish the exhibition had been larger (especially considering the New York Historical Society now charges a whopping $20 for adult admission), and included the likes of Daredevil (who lived in Hell's Kitchen), and Luke Cage/Power Man (a rare black superhero who battled his way through the gritty NYC of the 1970s), but anyone with any sort of emotional connection to comic books will likely enjoy this show.
For More Info On Superheroes in Gotham
Superheroes in Gotham will be at the New York Historical Society through February 21. The NYHS is located at 170 Central Park West, on the corner of 77th Street, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., expect for Friday when it's open until 8:00. On Sunday the hours are 11:00 to 5:00.