The character Batman has gone through many different phases in his history. With the current creative run coming to a close, what do you see creators doing with the character in the future? Do you see the character being handled differently in the post-Denny O’Neil era?
— George (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The new Jeph Loeb / Jim Lee version of the Dark Knight is certainly getting a lot of attention, but we’ll have to wait and see if it is a major change in the direction of the character. One thing I think is safe to say is that we will not see a change back to the 50s Batman whose adventures seemed to alternate among bizarre transformations (like the zebra-striped Batman), one-shot gimmicky villains (like the Polka-Dot Man), and battling aliens.
Is there any kind of Bat-Editorial Policy regarding which version of the Batmobile is rendered by the Bat-Artist in the Bat-Comics?
It would seem that every time I pick up a new Bat-Book it features a different Bat-Ride. Do the pencilers just draw whichever version they like best? In which case, why don’t they draw the Adam-West-Swingin’-Sixties-Barris-Custom-Batmobile exclusively?
What’s YOUR favorite Batmobile?
— Nick White (email@example.com)
For years, DC has maintained a series of style guides for use by artists drawing the various characters and their accoutrements, but it is mostly utilized for licensed use in ads and products. One would hope that the editors would be paying attention to which version of the Batmobile shows up in the books, but in an age when even the style in which the main characters are being drawn differs from story to story, that might be too much to expect.
My favorite version? That clunky 1950s version with the big bat-head on the front and the tailfins.
How come places in Gotham City still look old and like they did before No Man’s Land?
— Michael (TheAuthor_2000@yahoo.com)
Probably because the artists (and the editors) are not thinking about what the city should look like after it has been destroyed by an earthquake and then rebuilt.
When did the Batman titles begin outselling Superman’s, and has is happened before?
— Marcelo Cury (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I don’t have exact dates, but it would have been sometime after the death and resurrection of the Man of Steel in the mid-90s. Sales of the books featuring DC’s top two stars have seesawed back and forth for decades, but I suspect that the first time the Dark Knight outsold the Man of Steel was in the mid-60s when the Batman TV show went on the air.
Remember those great AMAZING HEROES specials in the 1980s that would preview upcoming titles from DC for the next year? Many of these titles never came about. I seem to recall reading in one of these specials about a new Batwoman series. I think this was in the late 80s (very early 90s). I am not sure who they interviewed about the new Batwoman title…I think it was probably Denny O’Neil. He described the book as dark, with a new take on Batwoman. Is my memory even vaguely correct? If it is, what ever happened to this series? It almost sounds like the Catwoman series picked up some of the same themes. Thanks for any help you can give me!!
— Glenn Grothaus (email@example.com)
I don’t have access to many of those old AH preview specials, but I vaguely recall some type of new spin on Batwoman might have been in the works.
As to what happened to it, like many other books that are announced, it just never got off the ground. Whether it directly or indirectly influenced the Catwoman series is something only Denny or the writers involved could tell us.
From my official unofficial researcher, John Wells, comes the following…
- The Fortress of Solitude did exist during the Golden Age. Unlike the Silver Age Fortress, though, it was situated in the mountains. First seen in
- ‘s “Muscles For Sale” (1942), the “mountain retreat” reappeared in
ACTION #s 53 and 149
WORLD’S FINEST #s 7, 11, and 69
SUPERMAN #s 21, 25, 81 and 108
- . Some of the stories, such as that final issue from 1956, didn’t explicitly set Superman’s hideaway in the mountains … but they didn’t place it in the arctic, either. There was one exception, though:
- ‘s “Case of the Second Superman” (1949) actually put the Man of Steel’s sanctuary in “the polar wastes” and called it the Fortress of Solitude. It wasn’t until 1958’s
- that the Fortress name and locale were revived and the familiar trappings (such as the giant key) were established.
The original mountain retreat was spotlighted with a two-page excerpt from “Muscles For Sale” in SUPERMAN #187‘s Fortress-themed 80-Page Giant (1966) and made several more appearances during the 1970s and 1980s in stories set on Earth-Two (ACTION #484, ALL-STAR SQUADRON #s 21-22, INFINITY, INC. #9 and SUPERMAN FAMILY #s 212 and 217).
Dave Blanchard’s take on the Earth-One start dates for various DC series was fascinating and I liked the fact that he didn’t factor in retroactively declared data. For instance, E. Nelson Bridwell also contended (and eventually put down in print in SUPERMAN FAMILY #211) that one of the points of distinction between the Golden and Silver Age Batmen was that Catwoman and Two-Face stayed reformed on Earth-Two. The 1954 episodes in which they returned to crime (DETECTIVE #203 and BATMAN #81) only took place on Earth-One.
In my own DC checklists, I’ve regarded the Superman and Batman stories from 1954-on as near-exclusively Earth-One. There were the returns to crime of Catwoman and Two-Face, the debuts of the Superman-Batman team-ups in WORLD’S FINEST and the ongoing JIMMY OLSEN series and, in early 1955, “Superboy’s Last Day In Smallville” (SUPERMAN #97). Superboy was reunited with Krypto in 1955 (ADVENTURE #210) and the Dynamic Duo got a Bat-Hound shortly thereafter (BATMAN #92).
The last holdover from Earth-Two was Lois’ niece, Susie Tompkins, who popped up in SUPERMAN #95. The minor spelling alteration of Mister Mxyztplk’s name to Mxyzptlk also took place in 1955. The original spelling last appeared in SUPERMAN #95 and the new version went into effect with in ACTION #208.
Prior to that, one could argue that the Superboy series (launched in 1944’s MORE FUN #101) was the debut of the Earth-One Kal-El (and I’ve treated those early stories as such in my lists). Really, though, they represented a transitional version of Superboy/man that wasn’t quite the Golden Age version but was still sorting out what it wanted to be.
There was more than one “first” in Lana Lang’s history, for instance, that didn’t survive the conversion to the Silver Age. Originally, the Langs didn’t meet the Kents until Lana and Clark were about twelve (1950’s SUPERBOY #10) but it was eventually established that they’d known each other since infancy.
1952’s SUPERMAN #78 presented the first meeting of the adult Lois and Lana, complete with a Superboy flashback that would be viewed as “proof” that this wasn’t on Earth-Two. But it wasn’t on Earth-One, either, where later “first” meetings between Lois and Lana were regarded as part of the official canon (like SHOWCASE #9 and SUPERBOY #90). In case any one’s interested, the official introduction of Earth-Two’s Lana took place in a Bridwell “Mr. And Mrs. Superman” story in SUPERMAN FAMILY #203.
And how many people recall Lana’s kid brother, Alvin, from 1956’s SUPERBOY #48?
— John Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org)
EVEN MORE FEEDBACK
- BobRo asked me recently to identify the first Silver Age issues of all the DC superhero comics that predate
- , which appeared in the Sept. 23, 2002, edition of “The Answer Man!” However, Hal Shipman’s actual question didn’t specifically mention “first Silver Age” issues; instead, he was asking about a cut-off for Earth-One/ Earth-Two stories.
That’s an entirely different question, and one much more difficult to answer. The “Earth-One/Earth-Two” concept was pretty much the exclusive province of Julius Schwartz-edited comics throughout the Silver Age, and of course the concept itself didn’t happen along until the publication of THE FLASH #123, “Flash of Two Worlds” (September 1961). It’s safe to say that all Schwartz-edited stories involving the Flash, Green Lantern and the Justice League of America that predate September 1961 are Earth-One stories, and all the rebooted Schwartz heroes afterwards would fit the bill, too (like the Atom and Hawkman).
However, for some characters, like Superboy, there’s really no way of knowing. Since it was established well after the fact that the Earth-Two Superman did not have an earlier Superboy career, that would mean that the first appearance of an Earth-One Superboy would have been in MORE FUN #101 (Jan.-Feb 1945). If you accept that premise, then you have to accept that the Golden Age Superboy (Earth-One) was an entirely different character than the Golden Age Superman (Earth-Two) from his very inception, when obviously the well-known tagline “the adventures of Superman when he was a boy” refutes that premise.
More to the point, though, it wasn’t until Mort Weisinger became sole editor of all the Superman family titles (except for WORLD’S FINEST) in 1958 that any kind of consistent mythology for Kal-El and his family emerged, which is why I pinpointed various issues from that year as the first Silver Age issues. However, Weisinger never addressed the question of “first Earth-One story” while he was editor, so the reader is left to his/her own devices:
- Take the easy way out, and assume that all Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman stories that appear after the publication of BRAVE & BOLD #28 (Feb./March 1960), the first JLA story, are Earth-One stories.
- That raises the question, though: Are all stories that appeared “before” B&B #28 by definition Earth-Two stories? I would argue no, using my Silver Age theory that we can identify a specific issue in the late 1950s, post-SHOWCASE #4, when DC’s existing superheroes began to exhibit characteristics and trends that carried them through well into the 1960s (i.e., the Silver Age). This theory works for Superman and Wonder Woman very well; moderately well for Batman (although he undergoes a major revamping rather late in the Silver Age game in 1964, when Schwartz took over and launched the “New Look”); and not very well at all for Superboy.
DC’s WHO’S WHO editions of the mid-1980s, by the way, don’t really answer this question very well, either. For instance, WHO’S WHO states that the Earth-One Batman debuted in DETECTIVE #327 (first “New Look” story), leaving entirely unanswered the question, “Then who was the Batman who appeared in four years’ worth of JLA stories up to that point?”
So that’s why I stick to identifying Silver Age, not Earth-One, launching points.
Dave Blanchard (BlanchardD@aol.com)
MORE FROM THE EMAILBOX:
With so many different alien species kicking around in the Marvel Universe, I was just wondering if the existence of extra-terrestrial life is known to the majority of the population, or is it a fact only known to a select few?
— Geoffrey.Pearson2@btinternet.com (Geoff Pearson)
With such great newspapers as The Daily Bugle keeping the people informed, the general populace MUST know about all the aliens among them. Just consider all the times Galactus showed up; how many people could deny the existence of extra-terrestrials after that?
How would I be able to get in contact with Stan Lee through either snail mail or email?
You can send a snail mail to Stan to The Comics Buyer’s Guide (700 E. State Street, Iola, WI 54990) and they will forward it. Put your letter to Stan inside an envelope and affix proper postage. Put that envelope into another that you address to CBG.
CBG maintains a fairly extensive address list for people in the industry, so this procedure will work for pretty much any comics pro.
Through trade paperbacks, I’ve recently discovered the wonderful TALES OF THE BEANWORLD by Larry Marder. The trades were originally published by Eclipse Comics, then by Marder’s own Beanworld Press. However, the trades only include #s 1-16, and I know the series was published through issue 21. Individual issues are almost impossible to find, and I’ve contacted Beanworld Press with no luck. (To be fair, the e-mail address I used came from an outdated webpage.) Which brings me to my questions:
- Is there going to be a fifth Beanworld trade finishing the series?
- What happened to Marder and Beanworld?
- In the absence of a fifth trade, is there somewhere I can find the individual issues 17-21?
— Thom Heil (email@example.com)
Thom, a quick Google search brought me to BeanworldPress which is probably the best place for you to find everything you want to know.
Why doesn’t Aquaman have a Earth-2 / Golden Age counterpart?
With the demise of the first superhero era in the early 50s, pretty much all the DC heroes except the “big three” (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) disappeared. Two exceptions were Aquaman and Green Arrow, who continued to appear in back-up tales in books like ACTION COMICS, ADVENTURE COMICS and WORLD’S FINEST.
The King of the Sea is unique as the hero who appeared throughout the Golden Age and the Silver Age without there being an Earth-2 version. (Why am I thinking that there WAS one mentioned at some point and I’m not recalling it? Well, I’m sure I’ll hear about it!) Unlike Green Arrow, who was a member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, Aquaman was never part of a superhero team in the 40s. So, while the annual Justice League / Justice Society crossovers necessitated the creation of Earth-2 versions of current heroes (who hadn’t been relaunched a la Flash and Green Lantern), no one ever used Aquaman.
There is also no Earth-2 version of the Answer Man, but you can still find my daily Anything Goes Trivia at http://www.wfcomics.com/trivia.
See you next week.
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Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.