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
Comic book superheroes don’t get married very often. The conventional wisdom is that tying the knot not only puts an end to any dramatic tension in a hero’s current romance, but that it also severely limits the storylines that writers and artists can explore with that hero in the future. The pull of this idea among modern comics creators is so strong that even superheroes who’ve been married for as long as 15 years (Superman), or 20 (Spider-Man), can find themselves suddenly single — not through anything so mundane as legal divorce, of course, but rather by way of such plot machinations as having the Devil alter the characters’ history (Spider-Man), or rebooting a whole universe (Superman). Read More
If you’ve ever read this blog, the cover of Detective #354 should already be familiar to you. There it is, proudly displayed in the header above every post. Obviously, I have a lot of affection for this particular offering from the team of Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, who contributed so many classic covers to this era of Batman comics (and even got to sign this one — not a routine occurrence at the time).
In some ways, it’s a head-scratcher that the cover is as effective as it is. A dozen or so thugs — none of them especially formidable-looking — are depicted standing in a half-circle around Batman, shaking their fists at him. The cover copy describes this as “The Caped Crusader’s most dangerous trap”. Really? Even in 1966, and even without taking the then-insanely-popular TV show’s weekly cliffhangers into consideration, I believe my eight-year-old self must have been skeptical of that claim. Sure, the odds are against him, but he’s Batman. These hoods aren’t even armed. Even if he’s not able to take them all down, our hero should at least be able to break free of this “most dangerous trap” and escape. And while those “force lines” drawn around the thugs’ brandished fists may be intended to make them look more threatening, the actual effect comes off as just a little bit silly. Read More
In his mostly fascinating, occasionally maddening genre-history-cum-autobiography Supergods, the acclaimed comics writer Grant Morrison describes the lead tale in Flash #183 as “one of the first stories I remember having a profound impact on my young mind.” He goes on to state that he “can trace many of my own obsessions and concerns as a writer back to this particular root.” Morrison would have been six-and-a-half years old when this comic book was published, while I was eight, closing in on nine. I figure my recollection of its advent upon the world should be at least as clear as his — but, y’know, I don’t remember it having nearly so profound an impact on me. But that’s probably just one of the many, many reasons why Grant Morrison is a rock star of the comics world, and I’m just a schlub with a blog. Read More
This issue featured the second appearance of the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, as a guest star in the comic book headlined by his “successor”, Hal Jordan. Alan’s first guest shot had occurred less than a year previously, in Green Lantern #40’s “The Secret Origin of the Guardians” — a tale that eventually turned out to be one of the most consequential stories DC ever published, at least in terms of fictional universe-building (or, more accurately, multiverse-building). Although this second team-up of the two Lanterns, “Prince Peril’s Power Play”, was produced by the same creative team of writer John Broome, penciller Gil Kane, and inker Sid Greene, it wasn’t destined to achieve the same fame as the first one; still, it had (and has) several special things going for it. One of these was a second, different “guest appearance”, of a wholly different sort from Alan Scott’s, which we’ll get around to discussing a little later. Another was a greatly expanded role for a supporting character who’d only appeared briefly in GL #40 — Alan Scott’s chauffeur and sidekick, Charles “Doiby” Dickles. Read More
Once upon a time, in the long-distant, antediluvian past, comic books were a lot like movies, or television shows. You caught them when they first came out (or on), or you were out of luck. Eventually, as we all know, the advent of consumer videotape technology changed everything for TV and film. Similarly, the gradual development of the comics collectors’ market ultimately made it economically feasible to reprint old, ephemeral newsprint periodicals in brand new, designed-to-last, real-book editions, and then to keep them in print for, if not ever, then a lot longer than a month or two. These days, in fact, you can even download a digital copy of a fifty-year-old comic book for less than the cost of a new one. (What a world we live in. You kids today, you just don’t know.) Read More
My very first issue of The Flash sported a very dramatic cover, featuring a “Wanted” poster bearing the faces of both the Scarlet Speedster and his secret identity, police scientist Barry Allen. When I first picked the book out of the spinner rack, however, I didn’t get the idea at all.
I’d already encountered the Flash in Justice League of America #40 (at least I think I had — it and Flash #156 have the same cover date, and the Grand Comics Database doesn’t provide actual dates of publication for either, unfortunately). He never appeared as Barry Allen in that issue, however, and I had no idea what the word “alias” meant. So, I thought the two guys on the poster were two different people. But whoever this “Barry Allen” might be, he was obviously in big trouble with the pretty young woman clutching a tear-soaked handkerchief, just as the Flash had self-evidently earned the ire of his (previously unknown to me) teenage sidekick, Kid Flash.
Of course, I didn’t get very far into the issue before my misapprehension was corrected. Read More
According to the Grand Comics Database, this comic book was published exactly 50 years ago today, on August 26, 1965. The fact that it came out pretty late in the month may be significant, as it seems very likely to me that I bought it only after buying Justice League of America #40, which doesn’t have a specific date of release given in the GCD, but does have a later cover date of November, 1965. That’s because I didn’t have a clue who Green Lantern was before I started buying comics, and it seems logical that I took a chance on the Emerald Crusader’s solo book only after first encountering him as a member of the JLA. This book could well have been on the stands for a week or two after JLA #40’s release. But since I don’t really know if any of that is actually true, I’m going to go ahead and honor the cover dates, and post about GL #40 ahead of the Justice League book. Read More
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