D.D. Guttenplan plays Proust to his childhood memories of comic books in The Nation.
For a long time I used to go to bed early. Unbidden by my parents I'd hurry up the stairs to my room, turn out the light, burrow beneath the covers, reach under the bed for the flashlight and then, safe where I'd left it the night before, the latest issue of Superman or Batman. Proust can keep his madeleines. For me, nothing brings back that childhood sensation of safety, or the inky smell of clandestine pleasure, quite like Batman No. 166, "Two-Way Deathtrap!" in which the caped crime fighter, confiding the details of a nightmare to Robin, is overheard by a villain who proceeds to turn Batman's fevered dream into deadly reality. Or the next issue, No. 167, with "Zero Hour for Earth"--a "book-length spy-thriller" in which Batman jets off to fight the criminal organization Hydra.