Showcase Presents Robin Vol. 1

First Published: January 2008

Contents: Robin stories from Batman #184 (September 1966), #192 (June 1967), #202 (June 1968), #213 (July-August 1969), #217 (December 1969), #227 (December 1970), #229 (February 1971) to #231 (May 1971), #234 (August 1971) to #236 (November 1971), #239 (February 1972) to #242 (June 1972), #244 (September 1972) to #246 (December 1972), #248 (April 1973) to #250 (July 1973), #252 (October 1973), and #254 (January-February 1974); World’s Finest Comics #141 (May 1964) #147 (February 1965), #195 (August 1970), and #200 (February 1971); Robin stories from 
Detective Comics #342 (August 1965), #386 (April 1969), #390 (August 1969), #391 (September 1969), #394 (December 1969), #395 (January 1970), #398 (April 1970) to #403 (September 1970), #445 (February-March 1975), #447 (May 1975), #450 (August 1975) and #451 (September 1975); Robin stories from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #91 (March 1966), #111 (June 1968), and #130 (July 1970); and 
Justice League of America #91 (August 1971) and #92 (September 1971)

Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox, Frank Robbins, Gil Kane, Mike Friedrich, Irv Novick, Dick Dillin, Elliot S. Maggin, Bob Rozakis, and others

Key First Appearances: Frank McDonald, Lori Elton

Overview: For being a teenage sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder is looking pretty good for 74 years old. Sit back and enjoy the solo tales of the most recognizable sidekick of all time.

The early stories have the sweet innocence of the 1960s. We get a retelling of Robin’s origin: A young Dick Grayson is the youngest member of the Flying Graysons, the star attraction of Haley’s Circus. When the circus refuses to pay off mobsters, the Graysons suffer a fatal accident, leaving Dick Grayson as a mourning orphan. Attending the circus that night is millionaire Bruce Wayne, who knows first hand the pain that Grayson is feeling. He brings the young lad into his home as a ward and makes him a partner in his war on crime as Robin.

As we enter the 1970s, Dick Grayson finally completes high school and is ready to head to college. Once he leaves Wayne Manor to attend college at Hudson University, Robin starts to shine as an independent character. He finds a steady girlfriend in Lori Elton and gets to know the Hudson Security Chief Frank McDonald both in and out of the Robin outfit. Robin’s maturation becomes a decade-long process, but we finally get to see Robin completely break free of Batman’s shadow much later in the pages of New Teen Titans.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: As one of DC’s oldest characters, Robin definitely needs to have his solo stories collected like this. The stories collected here generally fall into two categories – either a filler story to complete an issue of Batman or Detective Comics, or a genuine attempt to tell a stand-alone story and advance the character of Dick Grayson. However, Dick Grayson’s story is not complete here. It’s been 7+ years since DC released this volume and Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1. My hope is that some day, DC will continue to collect Dick Grayson’s (and Barbara Gordon’s) adventures in a Showcase Presents Batman Family Vol. 1, which would ideally collect the original stories of Robin, Batgirl, Man-Bat and others from Batman Family #1 to #20.

Footnotes: The Robin story from Detective Comics #342  was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 1.

The Robin story from Batman #184 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 2.

The Robin story from Batman #192 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 3.

The Robin stories from Batman #202 and #213 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 4.

The Robin story from Batman #217 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 5.

Detective Comics #400 & #401 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1.

World’s Finest Comics #141 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 2.

World’s Finest Comics #147 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 3.

World’s Finest Comics #195 and #200 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 4.

Justice League of America #91 and #92 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 5.

If you like this volume, try: The New Teen Titans: Judas Contract. This was one of the best Teen Titans stories ever and definitely was among the greatest stories done by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. The main story here deals with the betrayal of the Titans by their newest member, Terra. Inserted into the team a year prior, we find out that she had been working as a mole for Deathstroke, the Terminator. Over the course of the story, we see Dick Grayson undergo his transformation into adulthood, which had it’s beginnings in this volume when Robin struck out on his own at Hudson University. By the end of the story, Dick Grayson has adopted a new identity (and costume) as Nightwing. This has been collected multiple times, as both a trade paperback and as part of The New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2. I can’t recommend this story enough – this is one of the essential stories for Dick Grayson, for the Teen Titans, and for DC Comics.

Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2

Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2

First Published: January 2007

Contents: The Brave and The Bold #88 (February-March 1970) to #108 (August-September 1973)

Key Creator Credits: Bob Haney, Neal Adams, Ross Andru, Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo, Bob Brown, and others

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 3

Overview: Welcome back to the Batman team-ups from The Brave and the Bold. Once again, Bob Haney weaves a unique take on Batman, finding unusual ways to bring Batman together with the likes of Green Arrow, Deadman, and the Metal Men.

A couple of books highlight this volume in particular:

  • The Brave and the Bold #98 featured Batman meeting up with the Phantom Stranger. While that match-up, in particular, is not huge, it does mark Jim Aparo’s first take on Batman. Aparo was a rising star at DC at this time, having gained notice for his work on Aquaman and The Phantom Stranger. Aparo would then go on to handle the art on nearly 80 of the next 100 issues of The Brave and the Bold.
  • The Brave and the Bold #100 (February-March 1972) featured Batman “teaming up” with Robin, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern. In all actuality, Batman had been shot and needed the other heroes to solve a crime for him while he recovered. This was published around the same time as the “Hard Traveling Heroes” storyline was coming to an end in the pages of Green Lantern (see Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 5 for that full story).

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I’ve said it before and I will say it again – any of the team-up books from DC (or Marvel) should be must-own for any fan. This is Batman with some of the greatest art talents of the time (Adams, Aparo, Cardy) providing covers and enticing stories to match the crazy stories being delivered to us by Bob Haney. These stories do not worry about continuity, so try not to take these too seriously. Just enjoy the absurdity of Batman teaming up with Sgt. Rock or the House of Mystery.

Who’s Who / Reprinted Elsewhere:
#88 – Batman & Wildcat
#89 – Batman & The Phantom Stranger / Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2
#90 – Batman & Adam Strange
#91 – Batman & Black Canary
#92 – Batman & The Bat-Squad
#93 – Batman & House of Mystery
#94 – Batman & Teen Titans / Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 2
#95 – Batman & Plastic Man
#96 – Batman & Sgt. Rock
#97 – Batman & Wildcat
#98 – Batman & The Phantom Stranger / Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2
#99 – Batman & Flash
#100 – Batman & Black Canary, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Robin
#101 – Batman & Metamorpho
#102 – Batman & Teen Titans
#103 – Batman & Metal Men
#104 – Batman & Deadman
#105 – Batman & Wonder Woman
#106 – Batman & Green Arrow
#107 – Batman & Black Canary
#108 – Batman & Sgt. Rock

If you like this volume, try: the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series. Running on the Cartoon Network from 2008 to 2011, this was a beautiful and fun homage to the Batman team-ups of the 1960s and 1970s. While some team-ups occurred more frequently (Aquaman and Green Arrow), the creators of the series pulled team-ups from all corners of the DC Universe. You would think that the spirit of Bob Haney was supervising the writer’s room for this series. Truth be told, I think I even teared up some with Batman teaming up with the Doom Patrol at the end of that group’s career. The finale of the series tied everything together and made promises that the adventures of Batman will never end. If you have not watched them, or not watched them recently, you owe it to yourself to give this series a look. (There was a Johnny DC book released to support this cartoon as well. While it captured the look and humor of the series, part of the joy with the series is seeing the team-ups animated on the screen. Track this series down for the young Batman fan in your life.)

Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 1

Showcase Presents World's Finest Vol. 1

First Published: October 2007

Contents: Superman/Batman story from Superman #76 (May-June 1952); Superman, Batman, and Robin stories from World’s Finest Comics #71 (July-August 1954) to #111 (August 1960)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Dick Sprang, Edmond Hamilton, Bill Finger, Jerry Coleman, and others

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 2

Overview: They are arguably the two most recognizable heroes in comic books. Superman – more powerful than a locomotive; able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Batman – defender of Gotham City, avenging the death of parents by striking back at crime. Each are stars in their own right, having moved from the comics to newspaper strips, radio dramas, and movie serials. At some point, it seemed natural that these two forces for good must cross paths, and that finally occurred in 1952 in Superman #76,  Clark Kent schedules a cruise (because everyone knows that the Daily Planet has a very generous vacation policy), but due to overbooking, he is asked to share a room with millionaire Bruce Wayne. Before the ship can leave port, an explosion on the docks prompts both men to change into their costumed identities. accidentally revealing their secrets to each other. Promising to keep each other’s secret, Superman and Batman work together, making for one of the most important comic book team-ups of all time.

Two years later, the Superman and Batman features in World’s Finest are combined, teaming up the two heroes (plus Robin, the Boy Wonder!) issue after issue after issue. The reasons for the team-ups vary from the reasonable to the absurd – whether fighting aliens or giant robots; traveling through time to the future, or into the past; stopping Lex Luthor on his next scheme to rule the world, or having Batman pose as Superman to keep Lois Lane from discovering Superman’s secret identity.

The supporting casts for both characters make numerous appearances. From Metropolis, Lois, Jimmy, and Perry cross paths with Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and Batwoman from Gotham City. In later Showcase Presents World’s Finest volumes, we will see a friendship develop between Jimmy Olsen and Robin, leading to a junior World’s Finest team-up.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: If you can think of this volume as a collection of imaginary stories, than this is a fun and interesting volume. If you are a continuity nerd, this book will make your head explode. These are all one-and-done stories, and should never be referenced again in any other story. The plots are absurd, and would never be published into today’s publishing environment. But it’s stories like this that inspired writers like Grant Morrison to create wonderful tribute stories, such as All-Star Superman and Batman: Incorporated.

Footnotes: Superman and Batman (with Robin) had been the stars of World’s Finest Comics since the first issue, which was initially published as World’s Best Comics #1. (The title changed to World’s Finest Comics with issue #2.)  However, these characters were each featured in their own stories within the magazine. In 1954, due to declining interest in comic books, World’s Finest Comics was reduced from a 64-page book to a 32-page book. In order to keep both of the stars of the book featured in the title, Superman and Batman started teaming up together in one story beginning with issue #71, which is where this Showcase Presents volume begins. 

If you like this volume, try: the first story arc Superman/Batman from 2003. Created by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, the Public Enemies story brought back together the World’s Finest team in a monthly comic book. In this volume, President Lex Luthor accuses Superman of treasonous crimes, and calls upon the super-hero community to bring him in dead or alive. Batman and Superman work together to uncover Luthor’s scheme, and to prove Superman’s innocence. Loeb takes an interesting approach to the story, showing us Superman through the eyes of Batman, and vice versa. The art by McGuinness is perfect for this title: Superman is big and bold and his muscles have muscles, while Batman is sleek and dark and mysterious. in 1987. This title ran for eight years, and some story arcs are better than others. For my money, Public Enemies is among the best and is the perfect way to return to the World’s Finest team.

Showcase Presents Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 1

First Published: September 2007

Contents: Batman and the Outsiders story from The Brave and the Bold #200 (July 1983); Batman and the Outsiders #1 (August 1983) to #19 (March 1985); Batman and the Outsiders Annual #1 (September 1984); and New Teen Titans #37 (December 1983)

Key Creator Credits: Mike W. Barr, Jim Aparo,  Marv Wolfman, George Peréz, and others

Key First Appearances: Brion Markov/Geo-Force, Gabrielle Doe/Violet Harper/Halo, Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana, Baron Bedlam, Dr. Helga Jace, Masters of Disaster (Coldsnap, Dust Devil, Heatstroke, Mudslide, New Wave, Shakedown, and Windfall), Force of July (Major Victory, Lady Liberty, Mayflower, Silent Majority, and Sparkler)

Overview: Lucius Fox, who oversees Wayne Enterprises for playboy Bruce Wayne, has gone missing in Markovia during a revolution. As Batman, he goes to his friends in the Justice League asking for help – and is rejected, as the JLA has promised the State Department that they would not interfere in matters of state. Fed up with the JLA, Batman quits the League and strikes out on his own. Enlisting the help of long-time friends Metamorpho and Black Lightning, Batman works his way into Markovia to rescue his friend. Along the way, new heroes are met to aid Batman in the rescue of Fox. Realizing the need for a team, Batman organizes these heroes into a new team, the Outsiders.

Over the next 18 months of stories, the Outsiders gel as a team. Questions are answered regarding the origins of Halo and Katana. Geo-Force finds a missing sibling hanging out with the Teen Titans. Metamorpho continues to seek out a cure for his condition, which would allow him to someday finally marry Sapphire Stagg. And Batman learns along the way to trust those around him, finally revealing his identity to his teammates.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a fun read of Batman in the mid-1980s, before the dark and gritty Batman introduced by Frank Miller takes over the direction of the character. The new characters introduced (Geo-Force, Katana, and Halo) all continue to be part of the ongoing DC continuity, throughout multiple crisis and reboot events. These are not the greatest comics ever – in the grand scheme of things, this was definitely the #3 monthly Batman book on the shelves in this era, behind Batman and Detective Comics. That said, this is a very good run on an interesting set of new and veteran characters. Give this book a look, that can be appreciated by readers of all ages.

Footnotes: In a reversal of teacher and student roles, Batman and the Outsiders received a boost by doing a crossover with The New Teen Titans. At that time, the Teen Titans had recently added a new member in Terra, who had a similar costume and similar powers to Geo-Force. (For the record, Terra was introduced first, by about six months.) In the story, we find out that Terra is the younger step-sister of Geo-Force, and received her powers from Dr. Jace. The two teams unite to take on Dr. Light and the Fearsome Five, with Robin taking the lead in directing the heroes and Batman taking orders from his former protege. 

If you like this volume, try: the Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo hardcover collections, released in 2012 and 2013. Aparo started his career at Charlton Comics, before joining DC in the late 1960s. Although he is most closely associated with Batman, Aparo also did memorable runs on Aquaman, Spectre, and Green Arrow. Aparo had a long run on The Brave and the Bold, working on the majority of the issues between #98 and #200. Many of those issues are collected in these two volumes of Legends of the Dark Knight, as well as in Showcase Presents The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.

Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 2

Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 2

First Published: June 2007

Contents: Batman #175 (November 1965) to #188 (December 1966), Batman stories from Detective Comics #343 (September 1965) to #358 (December 1966)

Key Creator Credits: John Broome, Carmine Infantino, Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff, Murphy Anderson, Robert Kanigher, and others

Key First Appearances: Poison Ivy, Tiger Moth, Blockbuster, Outsider, Cluemaster, Doctor Tzin-Tzin

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 3

Overview: Welcome back to the Silver Age of Batman comics. Once again, these stories are generally one-and-done stories, although some plot lines may run over several issues from time to time.

Picking up where the first volume left off, we finally find out the identity of the mysterious Outsider that had been plaguing Batman and Robin for the past year. Once that case has been resolved, loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth is able to return to service at Wayne Manor, and dear old Aunt Harriet quickly fades into the background.

The highlights of the stories in this volume include the new villains that are introduced to Batman’s Rogues Gallery. The deadly Poison Ivy makes her debut, appearing in two issues. (Strangely, she then went into hibernation, as she didn’t become a prominent Batman foe until the late 1970s.) Similarly, Blockbuster made a handful of appearances but did not become prominent for several years.

The creators of the comics give a nod of the hat to the popularity of the Batman TV series with Batman #183. A hood posing as an injured Batman tries to get Robin to take him back to the Batcave. Robin recognizes the fake, as this Batman does not have the yellow chest symbol. So Robin takes him to a fake Batcave that the duo had set up. Robin suggests that the faux Batman rest up by watching the popular TV documentary that shares their exploits. The hood is eventually revealed when the real Batman shows up.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: When I was a kid, I would search for comics at whatever store my parents would be shopping at that day. I would go through the spinner rack trying to decide what comics I would want to take home with me, based on the cover image and what characters would be in the book. I would often go with the team books like Justice League of America or The Avengers just because it would offer me so many heroes for my 35 cents. Once I had identified which comics I wanted, I would then peruse other comics, to absorb as much of the material as I could before it was time to check out.

Using that same criteria, I would probably mark this as a book to buy and take home with me. This volume gives us plenty of Batman team-ups, with Robin, Elongated Man, Atom and others. We get the classic Batman villains such as Joker and Riddler, plus the introductions of Poison Ivy and Blockbuster, both who would cause Batman trouble for years to come. Finally, this volume gives us the conclusion to the Outsider mystery which started in the stories found in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 1. This may not be the greatest collection of Batman stories, but you get your money’s worth with the stories in this volume. Sadly, it will cost you more than 35 cents to buy this collection.

Footnotes: The Robin story from Batman #184 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1.

The Batman story from Detective Comics #343 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents The Elongated Man Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: Batman: The Strange Deaths of Batman, a trade collecting various Batman stories depicting the death of the Caped Crusader. The first story is Detective Comics #347, which is collected in this Showcase. My favorite arc is from Batman #291 to #294, where a mock trial is held when multiple villains are trying to take credit for killing Batman. Ra’s al Ghul serves as the judge, Two-Face is the prosecutor, and claims are heard from Catwoman, Riddler, Joker and Lex Luthor on how they killed Batman. The stories cover a 35-year span, so this is a good way to see a variety of characters, and how Batman has changed over the years. The trade was released in 2009.

Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1

Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1

First Published: January 2007

Contents: The Brave and The Bold #59 (April-May 1965), #64 (February-March 1966), #67 (August-September 1966) to #71 (April-May 1967), #74 (October-November 1967) to #87 (December 1969-January 1970)

Key Creator Credits: Bob Haney, Gil Kane, Mike Sekowsky, Neal Adams, Ross Andru

Key First Appearances: Time Commander, Copperhead, Hellgrammite, Bork

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2

Overview: In the mid-1960s, Batman was reaching to new heights of popularity. Along with the weekly television show, the character could be found across a variety of titles, such as Batman, Detective Comics, World’s Finest, and the Justice League of America. So why stop there? If the Batman and Robin team-up is so great, wouldn’t a team-up with Batman and <character of the month> be just as great? Absolutely!

The Batman team-ups collected in this volume are an interesting mix. We get team-ups featuring many of his teammates from the Justice League, such as Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Hawkman. There are “unusual” team-ups with the supernatural characters, such as Deadman and the Spectre. And then there is the downright confusing team-ups, such as Sgt. Rock during the days of World War II.

Bob Haney wrote the majority of these stories, and seemed to be given carte blanche to do whatever he wanted within the pages of the book. These stories have often been described as taking place on Earth-B (for Bob Haney). The art features some of the best artists at DC during this era, with Mike Sekowsky, Ross Andru, and Neal Adams doing some of his earliest work for DC.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a fun, fun book. You see Batman in goofy pairings that would never happen with the modern dark-and-brooding Caped Crusader. This volume gives us a look at the changing DC Universe during the late 1960s. Wonder Woman’s second appearance in this volume is during her white jumpsuit, no powers Diana Prince era of stories. Neal Adams redesigns Green Arrow’s outfit into his most familiar costume and goatee in his second appearance in the book. We get one of the first encounters between Batman and the Teen Titans, which started the ongoing storyline of Dick Grayson/Robin trying to get out of Batman’s shadow and become an equal hero in his own rights. As long as you keep in mind that some of these stories should fall outside of the ongoing continuity, you will be fine!

Footnotes: The Brave and The Bold was an anthology title that started in 1955. In 1959, it became a try-out book for new characters, such as the Suicide Squad, the Justice League of America, Cave Carson, and Hawkman. Later debuts include the Teen Titans and Metamorpho. Issue #50 featured the first “team-up” with Green Arrow and the Martian Manhunter. With issue #74, Batman became the permanent host of the title, teaming him up with all kinds of characters in and out of continuity.

Who’s Who / Reprinted Elsewhere:
#59 – Batman & Green Lantern
#64 – Batman & Eclipso
#67 – Batman & Flash
#68 – Batman & Metamorpho / Showcase Presents Metamorpho Vol. 1
#69 – Batman & Green Lantern
#70 – Batman & Hawkman / Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 2
#71 – Batman & Green Arrow / Showcase Presents Green Arrow Vol. 1
#74 – Batman & Metal Men
#75 – Batman & Spectre / Showcase Presents Spectre Vol. 1
#76 – Batman & Plastic Man
#77 – Batman & Atom
#78 – Batman & Wonder Woman and Batgirl / Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1
#79 – Batman & Deadman
#80 – Batman & Creeper
#81 – Batman & Flash
#82 – Batman & Aquaman
#83 – Batman & Teen Titans / Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 2
#84 – Batman & Sgt. Rock
#85 – Batman & Green Arrow / Showcase Presents Green Arrow Vol. 1
#86 – Batman & Deadman
#87 – Batman & Wonder Woman

If you like this volume, try: The Brave and the Bold Archives Vol. 1. As mentioned above, The Brave and the Bold became a team-up book with issue #50. This archive edition collects the first eight team-up issues. These issues are written by Bob Haney, with the exception of issue #52 written by Robert Kanigher. Each issue has a different artist, so this is a great example of the various art styles on DC during the early 1960s.

#50 – Martian Manhunter & Green Arrow / Showcase Presents Green Arrow Vol. 1
#51 – Aquaman & Hawkman / Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 2 / Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 1
#52 – Sgt. Rock, Lt. Cloud & Tankman Stuart / Showcase Presents Haunted Tank Vol. 1
#53 – Atom & Flash
#54 – Kid Flash, Aqualad & Robin / Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 1
#55 – Metal Men & Atom / Showcase Presents Metal Men Vol. 1
#56 – Flash & Martian Manhunter
#59 – Batman & Green Lantern

Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 1

First Published: August 2006

Contents: Batman #164 (June 1964) to #174 (September 1965),  Batman stories from Detective Comics #327 (May 1964) to #342 (August 1965)

Key Creator Credits: John Broome, Carmine Infantino, Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff, Bob Kane, France Herron, Bill Finger, Murphy Anderson

Key First Appearances: Aunt Harriet Cooper, Outsider (heard but not seen in several issues. His first actual appearance will occur in Detective Comics #356, collected in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 2), Mystery Analysts of Gotham City

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 2

Overview: Welcome to the Silver Age of Batman comics. These issues are considered to be the point where Batman and Robin crossed over from the Golden Age adventures to the Silver Age. This is notably shown by the change to Batman’s costume, with the yellow oval added to the chest behind the bat emblem.

While most of these stories are one-and-done, we do see the seeds being planted for monthly continuity in the books. The Mystery Analysts of Gotham City are introduced, a team of detectives and novelists that assist Batman with some cases. The Outsider’s name starts coming up as a mysterious villain pulling the strings of many cases for the Dark Knight. As always, the familiar faces of Batman’s rogues gallery, such as the Joker, Penguin, and the Riddler, make multiple appearances in this volume. Friends of Batman show up, like the Elongated Man and Zatanna, for team-ups that would soon become the norm in the pages of The Brave and The Bold.

Finally, for those fans of the 1966 television series, you may be surprised to learn that Harriet Cooper was a character in the comics before she was introduced on the show. Dick Grayson’s aunt moved in to stately Wayne Manor in Detective Comics #328 following the death of Alfred Pennyworth. (No worries, faithful reader! We will see the return of Alfred in the next volume!) Much like the show, Bruce and Dick must often develop wild excuses to get away from Aunt Harriet to respond to the call of the Bat-Signal!

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Batman is an interesting character. Much like Superman, the character changes to more closely reflect the era around him. The 1940s gave us a detective and the 1950s gave us a sci-fi super hero. With this volume, we see Batman start to become the celebrity of Gotham City, bordering on pop culture icon. This is a night and day difference from the Batman we have seen for the last 30 years in comics and film. If you are OK with Batman cracking jokes and smiling, then pick up this collection. If you want the dark and grim detective, hold off for volumes 4 and 5 down the road.

Footnotes: During this era, Bob Kane is credited for the art in several issues in this era. However, Kane often employed “ghost” artists, such as Sheldon Moldoff and Dick Sprang, to draw pages in the style of Kane.

The Robin story from Detective Comics #342  was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Yes, this gives us a version of the “dark detective”, but it also gives the reader an easy introduction to Batman based in a more current era. Bruce Wayne still tragically loses his parents in Crime Alley, but he is then raised by Alfred Pennyworth, who has a Special Forces background to better protect young Bruce. We see a Batman that physically struggles to fight thugs or give chase while wearing a heavy costume complete with cape. Batman faces down a crime organization led by the Penguin, who is more a ruthless businessman and less a waddling bird-man. This is a great way to introduce Batman to a new reader without the 75 years of continuity baggage behind him.