Batman #194 (August, 1967)

Recalling my early comics-reading years, I can’t think of another comic book that I looked forward to with as much breathless anticipation, simply based on the house ads, as I did Batman #194.  And I can’t think of another comic book that I considered as huge of a letdown once I finally got hold of it and read it, as I did Batman #194.

It was the cover that grabbed me in those ads, of course.  That amazing Carmine Infantino-Murphy Anderson cover, with its impeccably rendered figures of Batman and Blockbuster, its dynamic action, and, most of all, its imaginative (and, for the time, daring) incorporation of the book’s title within the illustration.  My nine-year-old self had never seen anything like it.  Read More

Detective Comics #361 (March, 1967)

Somehow, someway, in the 18 months that I’ve been doing this blog — during which time I’ve written 26 posts tagged “Batman”, 8 tagged “Detective Comics”, and 14 tagged “Carmine Infantino” — I’ve neglected to write about a single one of the Batman stories Infantino drew for Detective during the corresponding span of time in the 1960s.  And since I believe that Infantino’s artwork for the Caped Crusader holds up better after half a century than virtually any other aspect of the “New Look”/”Batmania” era of the character, that’s an oversight that needs to be rectified — which I am happy to do, at last, with this post.  Read More

World’s Finest Comics #161 (October, 1966)

Fifty years ago, in August of 1966, I picked up my first “80 Page Giant” issue of World’s Finest — a collection of reprinted stories featuring “Your Two Favorite Heroes — Superman and Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder (wait, isn’t that three heroes? oh, never mind) — in One Adventure Together!”  It wasn’t my very first issue of the World’s Finest comic itself, however, and if you’d asked me what the main difference was between the then-new stories regularly appearing in that book and these vintage tales, I would have said that the new stories looked like the ones in the other new comics featuring the “Superman family” (Action, Adventure, and Superboy, as well as the Man of Steel’s eponymous book), while these reprinted stories looked much more like the old Batman stories I’d been reading in paperback as well as comic book reprints.     Read More

Batman #185 (October, 1966)

When I first began reading Batman comics, in August, 1965 (my initial issue, as I posted about around a year ago, was Detective #344), the character’s “New Look” — as developed by editor Julius Schwartz, with the help of artist Carmine Infantino and various writers — had been in place for well over a year.  Nevertheless, by the time August, 1966 rolled around I had managed to achieve some familiarity with the Caped Crusader’s pre-1964 “old look” as well.  This was thanks to several factors.  For one thing, the animated opening credits of the Batman television series were based mostly on the older look; more significantly, the huge success of that show led to an expansion in the reprinting of older Batman material.  And so, within a few months of the TV series’ January, 1966 debut, I had become the proud owner of two Signet paperbacks reprinting old Batman stories in glorious black and white, as well as an “80 Page Giant” issue of the Batman comic itself featuring tales of similar vintage in full color.     Read More

Batman #183 (August, 1966)

The estimable and invaluable web resource known as the Grand Comics Database, without which the production of this blog would be exponentially more difficult (if not downright impossible), generally confines its content to verified (or at least verifiable) facts.  Its entry for Batman #183, however, contains the following anonymous “Indexer Note”:

“Camp style stories in the fashion of the TV series begin.”

That statement, on the face of it, appears to assert as fact something which, if we’re going to be honest and objective, surely must be reckoned a matter of subjective opinion, no matter how well-informed.  But because it is from the Grand Comics Database — and also because we’ve already noted how, in the letters column of the last non-reprint issue of Batman prior to this one, editor Julius Schwartz dropped a non sequitur reference to “camp” — I think it’s worthwhile to examine Batman #183 in the context of that claim.  Read More

Batman #181 (June, 1966)

Most of the villains generally considered to be on Batman’s “A-list” of foes were introduced in the first decade or so following the Caped Crusader’s first appearance in 1939.  The Joker first arrived on the scene in 1940, barely a year after his heroic adversary’s debut, as did Catwoman.  The Penguin and the Scarecrow followed soon after, in 1941, while Two-Face first turned up in 1942.  Even the Riddler, a character who wouldn’t really take off until the mid-Sixties, debuted as early as 1948.

I may be as old as dirt, but even so, I’m not quite ancient enough to have been around for any of those characters’ introductory appearances.  On the other hand, I am old enough, and also fortunate enough, to have been present for the debut of another member of that top rank of Batman baddies — the villainess known as Poison Ivy.      Read More

Batman #179 (March, 1966)

In January, 1966, I bought my first issue of Batman.  I’d already had plenty of exposure to the character by this time, of course, in multiple issues of Justice League of America, plus appearances in The Brave and the Bold and World’s Finest.  More to the point, one of the very first comics I’d bought had been the 344th issue of Detective, Batman’s “other” book (and arguably the primary Batman book, as it was the 27th issue of Detective in which the character made his debut way back in 1939).  Still, up until January, 1966, I hadn’t gotten around to buying an actual issue of the Caped Crusader’s titular comic.

But if I was ever going to pick up an issue of Batman, there could hardly have been another month when I would have been more primed to do so than January of 1966.  Because on January 12, eight days prior to the release of Batman #179, American television viewers saw this on their screens for the very first time: Read More

Detective Comics #344 (October, 1965)

I think that this was the second comic book I bought, but I’m not sure.  It has the same cover date as Superman #180, but so does another comic I bought around the same time.  I’m sure Superman #180 was the very first, but my memory of the specific sequence of acquisitions is a little dim after that.  I feel like Batman followed right after Superman, however, and it also seems like the most appropriate choice — so that’s what I’m going with here.

My memory is also trying to tell me that I was previously aware of Batman from commercials for his upcoming live-action series (maybe even one featuring the Batusi?), but that seems pretty unlikely.  The premiere of ABC’s “Batman” was still 5 months away, and I don’t believe that networks aired promos that far in advance in those days — but I could be wrong.  Assuming there hadn’t been any such commercials, however, I must have had only a vague idea of who Batman was and what he was all about.  Only a year later, Batman would be everywhere — toys, records, books, trading cards, other novelties, a movie — but in the summer of ’65 there were only the comics.  Read More