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

The Brave and the Bold #69 (Dec., 1966 – Jan., 1967)

It’s a well-known fact of comic book history that, in the 1960’s, editor Julius Schwartz often came up with an idea for a cover, had one of his stable of artists draw it up, and only then assigned a writer to script a story around it.  I don’t know if any of Schwartz’s fellow DC editors of the time followed a similar practice — but if there’s any one non-Schwartz cover of the mid-Sixties that might be considered a candidate for “cover first”, it’s surely the Carmine Infantino-Joe Giella cover of The Brave and the Bold #69, edited by George Kashdan.

That’s partly due to the fact that Infantino is the same artist who pencilled many of those classic covers for Schwartz’s books — but mainly, it’s because of that big, red, iron bat holding Batman prisoner.  That visual is so bizarre and unlikely, yet also so striking and memorable, that I find it easier to believe that someone — whether Infantino, Kashdan, or someone else — came up with it all on its own, and then found a way to work it into a story, rather than that it emerged naturally during the plotting of the story it ultimately came to illustrate.  Especially since “War of the Cosmic Avenger”, written by Bob Haney and illustrated by Win Mortimer, doesn’t really have a whole lot of use for the big red bat after the first few pages.     Read More

The Brave and the Bold #68 (Oct.-Nov., 1966)

If you’ve been a comics fan for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the concept of the “Silver Age of Comics” — a hallowed era of comic book history extending from (probably) 1956 to (maybe) 1970.  You may even have an image that comes to mind if someone says a phrase like “the Silver Age Flash”, or “the Silver Age Thor”, visualizing an emblematic artistic interpretation of a character that flourished in that era.  But even if you’re as old and grizzled a fan as this blogger, you may find yourself hesitant, and even confused, should someone ask you to visualize “the Silver Age Batman.”

That’s as it should be, frankly, because the decade-and-a-half period we call the Silver Age encompassed a number of distinct interpretations of Batman, all involving different approaches to depicting (in story, as well as art), the character and his world.  My own, personal inclination is to identify the “Silver Age Batman” with editor Julius Schwartz’ “New Look” version of the character, introduced in 1964.  And I can make a strong case for that, I believe, based on Schwartz’ role in the Silver Age revival of superheroes like Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Atom — said revival being one of the main markers of the era.  But, when it comes right down to it, my inclination probably owes at least as much to the fact that that version of Batman happens to be the one I first encountered as a reader, way back in 1965.     Read More

Detective Comics #354 (August, 1966)

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

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