Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Classics - Batman #156

   Yeah, this story absolutely freaked me out when I was a kid.

   (I think I read the story in a reprint annual first - then some years back I found a copy at a comics convention.)

   Published in 1963, the comic starts out rather oddly, as Batman is missing - so Robin stars in a solo story teamed up with Ant-Man!

   No, not Hank Pym - though the issue was printed months after the first appearance of Marvel's Ant-Man, so you have to wonder what they were thinking.

    This Ant-Man ends up being not such a good guy - but by the end of the 8-page story, Robin has it all worked out.

   The second chapter finds Batman wandering through a strange, alien landscape, filled with strange menaces and monsters, including a towering, monstrous living statue.

   Just when he's at the end, Robin arrives and saves him - but as they fight for survival, the most amazing thing happens. Robin is killed!

   There's much more to the story, of course, and the explanation is so strange that writer Grant Morrison revived the concept for his recent take on Batman.

   As a kid reading this (I would have been about 7 or 8 years old), it was traumatic to see Robin die, to see Batman's grief at the loss of his ward - death was extremely rare in those days, and it was a gripping tale.

   Today's cynical readers would dismiss the story, but considering the limitations the industry was under at the time, this issue pushed the boundaries and remains one of my favorite DC Comics.

Grade: A


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It also stands out because there was nothing else like it at the time. Nowadays the companies kill off characters regularly in a bid to keep sales up, but at the time this issue appeared, death was not a plot line in any Batman title, now any DC comic of the period. Readers noticed it because it was unique! It shook up the average comic book page turner. It's too bad today's publishers have cheapened the concept of a beloved character dying, by cynicism and overuse.

Sam Kujava