The 1950s Batman stories are perhaps the least collected stories in the Dark Knight's history. Only recently have the early 1950s Detective Comics stories come into print. So, I was hoping to see something knew and I did.
This ear of Bat history is pretty well maligned. It's less serious, more sci-fi and gets away from the hero's dark crimefighting roots. The 1960s TV show has more boosters than this era among serious bat aficionados.
There were a lot of stories I loved in the book. A couple took intimate looks at the operations of Batman. In Detective Comics #156, the 1940s Batmobile is demolished and Batman's leg broken. So he builds the 1950s model which screams, "Awesome!" and would be the basis for the 1960s Batmobile on the TV show. We learn about Batman's batarangs in, "The 100 Batarangs of Batman," including their secret weapon, "Batarang X." A great Batman-Superman crossover is included with, "The True History of Superman and Batman."
We meet the "Bat-hound," "The Batwoman," and "Bat-Mite." The Bat-woman was sexist but not nearly as sexist as the introduction indicated. This early version of Kathy Kane could definitely handle herself. It felt more like the writers were leaving it open to be moved by reader response and clearly readers wanted more of her.
The villains section of the book was a bit more mixed. "The Man Behind the Red Hood" was classic and the story featuring the first appearance of the character who would become Mr. Freeze was decent. The 1950s stories that saw Catwoman abandon crime and Two-Face take it up again were weak.
The Sci Fi stories were actually a treat. My favorite was "Batman: The Superman of Planet X" which had Batman transported to a world where due to gravity and atmosphere, he had the same powers on Planet X that Superman has on our world. He was brought by the Batman of Planet X who admired our Batman and modeled himself after him.
Bottom line: the 1950s were a time when Batman was fun and light. Maybe he shouldn't be as rule, but if you find it enjoyable, this was a great read, and hopefully the whole 1950s will become available to us soon.