Happy Birthday, Batman!

Batman: Year 100
How old is Batman?

Bruce Wayne varies in age between 15 and 50, depending on the retelling. But (and forgive me for not spotting this earlier, but you’ll have noticed by now the focus of down the tubes is generally about British comics – certainly on the main site, anyway) – the story of Batman is 68 this month.

Detective Comics No.27 published the first Batman story in May 1939 , and a dark star was born. So belated birthday wishes, dark knight!

There’s an entertaining tribute to his longevity on the Inside Bay Area news site, just published today, written by longtime comics fan Sumana Harihareswara, remarking that Batman’s success, she feels, is because “We are drawn to Batman’s ambiguity, regret, decades-old grief and all those other grown-up situations.”

There’s also a handy checklist of recent Batman spin-offs for anyone interested in re-tellings of his origins (all links in the list below are to various titles on Amazon.co.uk), to which I’ve added what I’d say were some other landmark issues:

Shadow of the BatmanMy other favourite Batman stories? Probably one of the first I ever read, which involved Batman riding a stagecoach in a cemetery: nope, I can’t remember the issue off the top of my head but it was drawn, I suspect by Jim Aparo. I’d have been drawn in by the Neal Adams cover it probably had, an artist whose take on Batman brought him back to his roots after the 1960s campness of the Adam West-led TV show.

Then there’s wonderful work of Steve Engelhart and the late, great Marshall Rogers, an eight issue run of Detective Comics (#469 – 476, and republished several times), described by some as the “Definitive Batman” (and indeed, the story arc was the inspiration for the Tim Burton movie mentioned above). DC Comics paid limited tribute to Rogers in recent Batman comics after his untimely death, and Engelhart talks about the issues on his own web site here.

I don’t know about definitive, but I do know they are definitely some of my favourite Batman stories.

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics

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2 replies

  1. The cover you described sounds like this one by Berni Wrightson for Detective Comics 425; or possibly this one by Neal Adams for Detective 403.

  2. Thanks for that. It’s the Wrightson cover, Steve – bought in a a newsagents in St. Ives where I grew up that had import titles on one of those old ‘spinners’.

    I recall Batman tended toward one off stories per issue which made the title easier to follow than some of the Marvel imports. You often found one issue would end on a cliffhanger (Daredevil revealing his identity in one issue, for example) – and then never see the next one.

    No wonder I preferred the more reliable delivery of British comics back then…

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