Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Classics - Batman Annual #3

   It's hard to convey just how amazing these annuals were for young readers just getting into comics.

   Published in 1962, this huge Batman Annual offered 80 pages of classic reprints - seven stories in all (and it cost 25 cents! Annuals today have fewer pages and usually cost $5. It's enough to make a fan weep).

   Each DC annual typically had a theme - this issue's was "Batman and Robin's Most Fantastic Foes," and it lives up to the billing.

   The lineup includes the Joker (natch), Two-Face (in perhaps his only Silver Age appearance), the Mad Hatter, Mirror Man, Human Firefly and Gorilla Boss (it was DC in the '60s - ya gotta have a gorilla)!

   The seventh story featured the Mental Giant of Gotham City, who wasn't even a villain - no idea how he got in there.

   Each story is a finely-crafted, professional story, as Batman and Robin use their detective skills - and their athletic abilities - to track down, outwit or out-muscle each opponent.

   The stories include a fun bit of trivia (usually an indication of Bill Finger's writing, though no credits are listed here). For example, how does sculpting affect your thumb? How can colored crystals help combat Firefly's light barrage? These little bits of science and powers of observation added to the fun of the adventure.

   These days, reprints are all over - you can track down mountains of early Batman adventures easily. But in the '60s,  the companies just gave us these samplers of past adventures in annuals. No wonder we treasured them!

Grade: A-






Anonymous said...

Since I started reading comics after the Silver Age had begun, I loved loved LOVED the DC 80-page Giants! As with the Marvel Annuals, they helped a neophyte get up to speed with the characters by featuring their early adventures. Sometimes even their origins! And since the new Batman titles were uneven (that Bob Kane art sure was clunky compared to Carmine Infantino's slick modern style) I was thrilled by Dick Sprang's solid but imaginative artwork. Those publishers sure knew how to shake the quarters out of our jeans pockets!

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

You have to give "Bob Kane" credit, he sure was prolific (kidding)! Absolutely agree about Sprang - love his work!