The Brave and the Bold #79 (Aug.-Sept., 1968)

The topic of today’s post is, I believe, one of the most important single comic books in the evolution of  Batman to appear during the character’s nearly eighty-year history — probably ranking in the top five or so such comics.  Chronologically speaking, it’s certainly the most important Batman comic that DC Comics had published since 1964’s Detective Comics #327, the issue in which editor Julius Schwartz and artist Carmine Infantino debuted a “New Look” for the Caped Crusader — and I think that a strong case can be made that there wouldn’t be another single Bat-book quite so significant until the publication of the first installment of Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight, in 1986.

That’s because “The Track of the Hook”, written by Bob Haney and illustrated by Neal Adams, serves as the clearest point of origin for the most thorough overhaul ever of one of comics’ most iconic heroes — an overhaul that has often been called a return to the character’s original 1939 roots, but is probably more accurately viewed as an approach based on what comics writer Denny O’Neil once described as “remembering how we thought it should have been” [emphasis mine].  It was an approach which returned an air of mystery, a touch of noir, to Batman and his milieu — one which did indeed recover visual and thematic elements that had been present, or at least implicit, in the character’s earliest published adventures, but which explored and elaborated on those elements in a more sophisticated fashion than readers had ever seen before.  And it all started with Brave and the Bold #79, and the art of Neal Adams. 

That’s how I see it, anyway.  To be sure, there’s an argument that can be made that this major revamping of Batman didn’t get fully underway until late 1969, when Adams and O’Neil teamed up on the character for the first time in Detective Comics #395’s “The Secret of the Waiting Graves”.  And it’s true that O’Neil’s understanding of Batman’s psychology, of the obsessive nature of his crusade, was a critically important part of what made the revamp work, and gave it traction —  helping it to shape other creators’ as well as fans’ conception of who “The Batman” was for generations to come.

And it’s also true that efforts made by editor Julius Schwartz in the months immediately before that Detective issue’s appearance did much to lay the groundwork the Darknight Detective’s new/old direction.  Working with writer Frank Robbins and artists Irv Novick and Bob Brown, Schwartz made a clean break with the hero’s preceding, TV-driven “camp” era, by breaking up the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin (via shipping the Boy Wonder off to college) and closing up the Batcave, as Bruce Wayne moved out of stately Wayne Manor and into a high-rise Gotham penthouse.  These changes made it easier to depict Batman as a mysterious, lone-wolf vigilante, swooping down from rooftops to terrify criminals.

But all of these changes and innovations were preceded by the ones already instituted by Adams, working on Brave and the Bold with the book’s longtime writer Bob Haney and new editor Murray Boltinoff.  Those changes were relatively simple, even cosmetic — lengthening Batman’s cape as well as the ears on his cowl, setting scenes at night whenever possible — but they had a huge impact on fans.  By the time that DC published Batman #217 — the issue in which the hero leaves both Wayne Manor and the Batcave behind (though only temporarily, as it turned out) — Adams’ vision of the Caped Crusader had become the new standard, making it entirely appropriate that that issue, though featuring interior art by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano, was fronted by an Adams cover (as shown at left, above).

And the starting point for it all — the launch pad for DC’s reinvention of Batman — was Brave and the Bold #79, a comic book published when the fountainhead of the previous, camp era, the Batman television series, had been off the air for only three short months.

This comic book wasn’t actually the first time that Neal Adams had ever drawn Batman, of course.  His first professionally-published Bat-art had come as early as the cover of Detective #370 (Dec.,1967), which he inked over Carmine Infantino’s pencils; that was quickly followed by covers for which he provided both pencils and inks, including Detective #372, and the landmark 200th issue of Batman itself.  All of those covers were done for editor Julius Schwartz, for whom Adams also wrote and drew The Spectre; concurrently, Adams also began contributing covers featuring Batman for Brave and the Bold (then edited by George Kashdan) and World’s Finest (edited by Mort Weisinger).  The latter gig eventually even led to Adams’ drawing the interiors for World’s Finest, thus providing Adams with his first shot at drawing Batman in a story — though he only stayed on the book for two issues.

In looking over these sample covers reproduced here, it’s admittedly somewhat difficult (though not impossible) to see what a difference the artist would soon be making in how the comics readership, as well as the professional community, visualized Batman.  Here, Adams is closely following Infantino’s “New Look” template for the character, giving us a Caped Crusader who’s happy to pose and smile with Robin for the cover of his 200th issue.  Still, the greater naturalism of Adams’ approach is already evident, as is the ability it thereby allows for Batman’s physiognomy to more vividly express pain or desperation, as well as happiness.  The darker, more mysterious atmosphere the artist would soon bring to the hero and his world, however, is still to come.

And yet, by the time he produces the art for Brave and the Bold #79 — a comic published a scant two months after Adams’ last World’s Finest story — that atmosphere has arrived.  Though the ears will ultimately extend another couple of inches, and the cape increase in length and volume, the basic elements of Neal Adams’ Batman are here.  Allowing for some discrepancies in the intervals between when Adams produced his work and when it was published, what happened in a few months’ time to cause the artist to modify his approach?

I covered this ground a couple of months ago in my World’s Finest #176 post, but the short answer is that Adams decided to get serious about comic books.  Since coming to DC in early 1967, he’d viewed his work for them as a way-station between phases of his “real” professional career in commercial illustration.  But then, as he would later put it in his introduction to Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol I (2003), somewhere “between World’s Finest and The Brave and the Bold“, he fell “in love with doing comic books”.  He decided he really did want to do Batman — and he wanted to do him right.  But Julius Schwartz, who edited the two “solo” Batman titles, Batman (naturally) and Detective, wouldn’t give him a shot at drawing a Bat-tale in either of them, even though he had had him do covers for both.  So Adams turned to Murray Boltinoff, a veteran DC editor who’d just been assigned Brave and the Bold, and asked if he could draw Batman in that book — and Boltinoff said yes.

And so it came to pass, in the summer of ’68, that my ten-year-old self, as well as many other comic book fans, put down our twelve cents to buy The Brave and the Bold #79 — and met Neal Adams’ Batman again, for the first time.

The story opens, not with the single symbolic splash panel still typical of DC’s books at the time (though nowhere near as ubiquitous at it had once been), but with a dramatic series of wordless images, punctuated by a single sound effect:

This opening is immediately followed by a “real” splash panel, comprising all of page 2:

How many times before had my younger self seen Batman standing in a dark alley, swathed head to (almost) toe within his cape?  Zero, probably.  This was a new look for the Batman that I knew.

(And no, I haven’t forgotten Batman’s co-star in this story.  We’ll get to Boston Brand in just a bit.)

As regular longtime readers of this blog may remember, Brave and the Bold was one of my favorite comics for the first couple of years I was buying the things (mostly, I believe, because I loved getting two heroes for the price of one).  Which meant that by June, 1968, I’d read more than a few Batman-fronted stories written by Adams’ collaborator on this tale — the regular writer of BatB, Bob Haney.

Haney had shown himself to have a… unique take on the Caped Crusader, even before the advent of the TV series — as exemplified by this panel from my own first BatB issue, #64 (art by Win Mortimer):

I mean, who else but Bob Haney has ever written Batman to sound like the hero in an old Humphrey Bogart movie?

Soon after, with the arrival of the pop culture phenomenon that was “Batmania”, Haney happily jumped right into the deep end of the “camp” pool, feet first — as demonstrated in this panel from BatB #68; art by Mike Sekowsky and Mike Esposito):

“…the switch on the switch on the switch…”?  As I wrote in my post on this issue a couple of years ago, it’s practically impossible to read that caption and not hear the voice of the television series’ producer/narrator, William Dozier, in your head.

So there was little that I’d seen in Haney’s work, either in Brave and the Bold or in his other regular assignments — such as Aquaman and Teen Titans — to suggest he could turn out a grounded, gritty, straight-ahead crime story such as “The Trail of the Hook” was promising to be by the third page.  Say what you want to say about Bob Haney (and I’ve said plenty, over the years), the man had range.

With page 4, Batman’s co-star, Deadman — the only element of the story that takes it out of the realm of realistic crime drama into that of fantasy (assuming you can accept the guy dressed up like a bat as “realistic”, that is) — takes center stage:

Back in March, I posted about Strange Adventures #212, the one and only installment of Deadman’s original 12-issue run that I bought new off the stands.  As I explained in that post, however, I’m inclined to believe that, despite it’s being published three months ahead of BatB #79, I actually bought that book after I’d already bought and read this story.  If that’s accurate, then all I knew about Deadman prior to reading the page reproduced just above is what I had gleaned from DC’s house ads — essentially, that he was a circus performer who’d been shot dead in the middle of his act, and whose ghost was attempting to track down his murderer — a guy who had a hook in the place of one hand.  After reading this page,  of course, I knew at least a little bit more — that Deadman’s real name was Boston Brand, for one thing; and for another, that he could take over the bodies of living people.  Cool!

Whether or not editor Boltinoff and/or writer Haney had decided to team Deadman with Batman before or after Adams was assigned the art duties for Brave and the Bold, the character was an appropriate, and obvious, choice for the artist’s first issue.  Adams had been drawing Deadman’s feature in Strange Adventures since the second installment, in issue #206, and had been its regular writer since the aforementioned #212.  Probably the only other co-star for Batman that would have been equally as appropriate for Adams’ debut as Deadman was the Spectre — and DC’s “other” ghostly superhero had appeared in BatB as recently as #75, in a story drawn by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito (though Adams had contributed the cover, as shown above, way up there near the beginning of the post).

Poor Boston Brand, foiled by his own hot temper — as well as by Batman’s encyclopedic knowledge of the familial relationships of every single lowlife in Gotham City!

Commissioner Gordon reluctantly prepares to take Batman into custody, but the Caped Crusader takes a powder, figuring he can’t bring the Syndicate down if he’s in the pokey (apparently having learned his lesson after his BatB #64 experience).  He swings up and away to the rooftops, followed by the invisible form of Deadman.  A few blocks later, Batman returns to street level — and then, Deadman sees a car hurtling dangerously towards the unaware hero:

I recall this as the first of several big shocks in the story, as Boston Brand is indeed about to learn Batman’s secret identity.  This is something that virtually never happened in the Silver Age — at least, not without being undone in some way by the end of the story (as in World’s Finest #176) — and it may be somewhat hard for younger fans to understand what a big deal it was.  This was a time, after all,  when only Alfred, Superman, and Robin knew that Batman was Bruce Wayne (and when Dick Grayson was the one and only Robin).

Following Deadman’s succinct (but extremely helpful for new readers) recap of his own origin and subsequent history, he movingly makes his plea for help to the World’s Greatest Detective:

“Brucie-baby” informs Boston that Carleton Kaine keeps “the most complete crime file in the country” in his house.  Boston then takes over the body of Kaine’s butler to search for info on the late Whitey Marsh, while Bruce tucks into a lavish dinner for two with the crusading newspaper publisher:

That next-to-last panel on page 12 — showing Batman, his figure almost completely in shadow, running towards his frightened prey* with his scalloped cape billowing out behind him — is surely one of the strongest signifiers of Adams’ “new” Batman in the whole issue.

“All right, all right, you crazy ghost!” Batman exclaims in the next panel.  “Get off my back!”  With the help of an ex-con, he and Deadman track the killer from out of town, Monk Manville, to his rented room — only to find their bird has already flown the coop.  All he’s left behind is a photo of himself, smiling and holding a Tommy gun — with two hands, and no hook:

And here is the second, as well as the biggest (for me, anyway) of the story’s big shocks — the revelation that the killer our two protagonists are hunting, the supposed murderer of Boston Brand, also has a close connection to the murderer of Bruce Wayne’s parents — thereby linking the case to Batman’s origin as well as to Deadman’s, and making the search for Whitey Marsh’s assassin now deeply personal for both of the heroes.

In 1968, I knew the basic story of Batman’s beginnings thanks only to a black-and-white paperback reprint collection published in 1966 by Signet Books, which, though it mostly featured Batman stories from the Fifties, opened with Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s two-page “The Legend of the Batman–Who He Is and How He Came to Be!” from the hero’s earliest days.  If I’d ever seen a reference to the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne in any of the new comics books I bought off the stands from 1965 to 1968, I have no recollection of it.  And while the TV series had included brief references to Bruce’s folks being “murdered by dastardly criminals” in a couple of episodes, if someone hadn’t been paying close attention then, they could have watched all of the other 117 episodes and never had a clue as to why a rich socialite and his ward were dressing up like a nocturnal flying mammal and red-breasted songbird, respectively, and going out to fight crime.

In any event, I’m certain I had never come across the name “Joe Chill” before reading this story.  As with Deadman’s discovery of Batman’s true identity, this may be hard for younger fans to comprehend — but for most of the Sixties, the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents — the violent, traumatic event that defines his character and provides all of his motivation to be a superhero — was treated as an afterthought, when it was dealt with at all.  “The Trail of the Hook” thus marks the point at which the Caped Crusader’s storytellers began once again to make this foundational event central to the characterization of their protagonist.

I’ve described the Batman who effectively makes his debut in this issue as Neal Adams’ Batman — and while that’s essentially accurate, I would be remiss not to give due credit to Bob Haney for this particular contribution — the most important non-visual element that Brave and the Bold #79 would be responsible for restoring to Batman and his world.

But to return to our story… while giving Whitey Marsh’s garage a thorough going-over, Batman and Deadman discover a hidden room stacked high with slot machines, which seems to prove that Marsh was indeed involved with the Syndicate — just as Carleton Kaine was asserting way back on page 2.  But then…

Another twist to our tale — hook or no hook, the killer of Whitey Marsh can’t be the same man who killed Boston Brand.  Deadman and Batman have been chasing a false lead.

But while Max Chill’s personal connection to Deadman has now been shown to be bogus, his connection to Batman remains all to real:

Prior to June, 1968, I don’t believe I’d ever seen an exact reproduction of a cover illustration as an interior panel, like we have here in the last panel of page 18.  (Fifty years later, it’s still pretty rare.)

“The Chill brothers are out of my life… forever!”  That statement would prove to be pretty much the case for Max (although he would at least be mentioned another time or two in subsequent Bat-tales, as we’ll cover a little later on) — but Joe Chill, the man ultimately responsible for Batman’s very existence, would prove too tempting a subject for later writers to ignore.  Although he’d been shown to have met his demise way back in Batman #47 (June-July, 1948), later retcons would allow such writers to have Joe Chill interact with Batman in a variety of new and different ways.

(Incidentally, since Haney’s script doesn’t specify how Batman was responsible for Joe Chill’s death, I wouldn’t learn until years later of the ironic way the murderer met his end in Batman #47 — how, after being confronted by Batman, who’d revealed his secret identity to him, Chill [now a small-time crime boss] sought protection from his own henchmen, but was instead killed by them in anger after they learned he was responsible for Batman’s coming to be.)

Even though Deadman no longer has skin in the game, he’s going to see the case through to the end.  He accompanies the Caped Crusader to the offices of “EZ Loans”, where they hope to nab the unnamed “Paymaster” who hired Max Chill.  Unfortunately, they find the man already dead — presumably murdered on the orders of the still-mysterious “King”, who’s attempting to cover his tracks.

Fortunately, however, the killers have left a helpful clue behind:

I don’t recall if my ten-year-old self was surprised at the revelation that Carleton Kaine was the “King” of the Syndicate — a would-be Kubla Khan — all along; but I doubt it.  After all, the two leading candidate we’ve been reading about ever since page 2 — Jack LeSabre and Big Jim Coltrane — have yet to even appear on panel (and, in fact, they never will)!

And so, the case comes to its close.  Whitey Marsh’s murderer, who also wanted vengeance on Batman, is dead, as is “King” Carleton Kaine.  But it’s hardly a triumphant conclusion to the adventure, since Boston Brand’s killer — the true “Hook” — remains at large:

This last scene makes for a poignant ending to the story — although one that, if you think about it very long, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  After all, Deadman didn’t have any lead at all when he first traveled to Gotham City to ask Batman for help — Whitey Marsh’s murder didn’t occur until the ghostly hero was already in town.  Why can’t the World’s Greatest Detective start over from scratch to help Boston in his hunt for the Hook, which is what Boston came here for in the first place?

The obvious answer to that question is that DC wasn’t about to have Batman join the cast of the “Deadman” strip as a regular.  Deadman had to leave Gotham City at the end of the story, having been unsuccessful in his quest, so that he could resume that quest in the next issue of Strange Adventures — and, by the same token, Batman had to stay in Gotham, ready to team up with another DC hero in the next issue of Brave and the Bold.

So the story couldn’t end other than as it did, as untidy as that conclusion may seem upon close examination.  And, truth to tell, I don’t believe that my ten-year-old self even noticed the untidiness — or, if I did, I didn’t care.  As I recall, I thought it was a sad ending, but not a hopeless one.  I found it an emotionally affecting conclusion to a fine story, then — and indeed, I still do.

As it happened, Boston Brand’s quest to find his killer would in fact be reaching its end just three short months after BatB #79 hit the stands.  And while Batman wouldn’t be present for that event, as the last caption of “The Trail of the Hook” suggested he might, he would be a part of that storyline’s ultimate conclusion — which would appear in the pages of, you guessed it, The Brave and the Bold.

In Strange Adventures #215’s “A New Lease on Death”, Deadman uncovers the existence of a secret criminal society called the Society of Assassins (later to be rebranded by DC as the League of Assassins), and learns that the Hook — the guy never does get an actual name — killed Boston Brand as an “final exam” for graduation into full membership in said Society.  The Hook chose Boston entirely at random, having seen him on a circus poster.  Deadman is horrified to discover that he was murdered for no more meaningful reason than this — and then is frustrated when the Hook is himself killed by the Society’s leader, the Sensei, who believes that the aspiring Assassin had failed in his attempt to kill the circus aerialist (due to Boston’s having been impersonated recently by his own twin brother Cleve, in the latter’s attempt to lure the Hook out of hiding — as recounted in my Strange Adventures #212 post).  But even though justice has presumably been served, Boston Brand still knows no satisfaction, or peace — and Deadman yet remains on earth.

In the following issue’s “But I Still Exist”, Deadman learns of the Sensei’s intention to destroy Nanda Parbat, a hidden city located in the Himalayan mountatins of Tibet, and journeys there to prevent this from happening.  The city is guarded by the goddess-like entity Rama Kushna, who gave the murdered Boston Brand the power to search for his own killer in the first place — and upon his arrival, he is stunned to discover that his spectral form becomes corporeal within the boundaries of the mystical city, allowing him to live once again as a normal human being.  However, if he ever leaves the city, he will again become a discarnate phantom.  By the story’s end, Boston has vowed to return to the outside world, to give his continued existence meaning by using his powers to seek out and battle injustice — promising a whole new direction for the series, going forward.

The issue ends on a cliffhanger which wouldn’t be resolved in the next issue of Strange Adventures, as #216 featured the last installment of “Deadman”; in spite of being a sensation among hardcore comics fans, the book hadn’t been selling well enough for the series to continue.  Fortunately, Adams was given the opportunity to tie up his loose ends in Brave and the Bold #86, teaming once again with Haney to craft an adventure that brought Batman to Nanda Parbat to help Deadman save the mystical city from the Sensei and his Society of Assassins, one last time.

That wasn’t the last Deadman story, of course, not by any means.  There would be a lot more over the next fifty years, including more than a few in Brave and the Bold itself.  But while Neal Adams would be involved with creating a number of those Deadman tales (most of them appearing close to one or the other end of that half-century span), he wouldn’t be handling Boston Brand in the pages of Brave and the Bold ever again.  Issue #86 would prove to be the last issue of his tenure as the book’s regular artist — a remarkable eight-issue run that ended as it had begun, with Batman and Deadman.

How Adams came to depart BatB in 1969 is a rather mysterious matter.  In later years, Adams would acknowledge that he took some liberties with Bob Haney’s scripts (which, by the way, he has consistently praised in interviews as well as in his own non-fiction writing, such as the earlier-referenced introduction to Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol I), but has indicated that such amendments as he made were mostly restricted to changing the setting of daytime scenes to nighttime whenever he had the opportunity.  Haney, however, seems to have taken offense to something that was done to his script for #86.

In his book American Comic Book Chronicles: 1965-1969, John Wells quotes a letter from Haney that appeared in the 45th issue of The Comics Journal (March, 1979), in which the writer asserted: “My script was changed from about halfway through into something new and strange… Allow that Adams’ rewrite had a certain flashy style, it had nothing to do with my script, and I informed him never to change any more scripts.”  According to Wells, editor Murray Boltinoff took Adams off Brave and the Bold as a result of this incident.

Well, maybe.  BatbB #86’s “You Can’t Hide from a Deadman” is so obviously a wrap-up to Adams’ s Strange Adventures storyline that it’s difficult to see how Haney could have written the tale without substantial input from the artist.  It seems most probable that the story started with at least a bare-bones plot outline provided by Adams, though of course it’s also at least within the realm of possibility that Haney could have read Adams’ last two “Deadman” stories and then came up with a conclusion entirely on his own.

But regardless of how things may have gone down, as of issue #87 (a team-up between Batman and the “New” Wonder Woman that was written as well as penciled by Mike Sekowsky),  Adams was off The Brave and the Bold**, save for occasional covers.  He’d be succeeded by such artists as Irv Novick, Bob Brown, Nick Cardy, and, ultimately, Jim Aparo (who’d settle in for a multi-year run that lasted almost as long as the title itself) — all of whom would draw Batman, not according to the earlier prevailing model (Carmine Infantino’s “New Look” version), but on the model of “Neal Adams’ Batman”.

Because by the time BatB #87 came out in the fall of 1969, the revolution was well underway.  Julius Schwartz may not have assigned Adams to draw a Batman story quite yet, but he and his writers and artists had nevertheless been paying attention to what Adams, and Haney, had been up to in Brave and the Bold, and it was evident in the work coming out in Schwartz’s Batman and Detective titles.

One good example that’s particularly appropriate for our present discussion came along in Batman #208 (Jan.-Feb., 1969), an “80 Page Giant” primarily featuring reprint material on the theme of “The Women in Batman’s Life”.  A framing sequence (written by E. Nelson Bridwell, and illustrated by Gil Kane and Jack Abel) was narrated by a character readers had never seen before, a Mrs. Chilton, who apparently knew Batman’s secret identity — and who claimed to be “the most important woman in his life!”

Over the course of the issue, readers would learn that Mrs. Chilton was the housekeeper for Philip Wayne, Bruce’s uncle, who took him in following his parents’ deaths.  Uncle Phil was frequently away on business, so Bruce’s rearing would be largely in the housekeeper’s hands.  She would be the closest thing to a mother that Bruce would know following Martha Wayne’s murder, and even as an adult, he’d address her as “Mom Chilton”.

Mrs. Chilton would ultimately learn that Bruce had become the Batman, though Bruce himself didn’t know this.  Nor was he privy to “Mom”‘s other secret — one that she let readers in on in the framing story’s concluding panels:

It’s one thing to give Joe Chill a vengeance-seeking brother, as Bob Haney did in BatB #79 — and quite another to give them both a mother who is also Bruce Wayne’s adoptive mother, more or less, although she’s never been mentioned before in the character’s whole (then) thirty-year history.  I think that DC must have ultimately have decided that this development strained the bounds of even comic book readers’ credulity a tad too much, as Mrs. Chilton was never mentioned again, save for in 1980’s The Untold Legend of the Batman miniseries, which attempted to tie together every scrap of detail that Batman’s backstory had accumulated over the decades into a single coherent narrative.  Presumably, Mrs. Chilton was swept away by the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths (or a later continuity reboot), since both her and Uncle Philip’s roles in Bruce’s upbringing have pretty much been assumed by Alfred Pennyworth in the current Batman mythology.  But her tale still makes for an interesting footnote to the story in Brave and the Bold #79, as well as an indicator of the impact that Adams and Haney’s work on the title had on their fellow Bat-storytellers of 1968.

Earlier in this post, I described how Neal Adams couldn’t get Julius Schwartz to give him a Batman story to draw at first, which is how he ended up asking Murray Boltinoff to let him draw Brave and the Bold, instead.  But, only a couple of months after he left BatB, Adams was getting assignments for both Detective and Batman.  How did that happen?

We’ll close this post with the artist’s own account, as originally told to Rik Offenberger:

After a couple months, Julie Schwartz corners me at DC Comics, he has a handful of letters and he stops me in the hallway and he says, “How come all these fans say the only Batman at DC Comics is in Brave and Bold?” I said, “Well, Julie, in Brave and Bold he’s really Batman. He is not walking around in the daytime in his underwear, he is skulking around at night.” He said, “What makes you think you know how to do Batman?” I said, “Julie, it’s not me who knows how to do Batman, it’s me and every kid in America who knows what Batman ought to be. The problem at DC Comics is that no one knows what Batman is.” He said, “Get back here. Now you are going to be drawing Batman.”

The rest, as they say, is history — and, of course, the stuff of future blog posts…



*”Willie Pigeon, the stoolie!”  Haney didn’t exactly knock himself out coming up with the name for his stool pigeon character.

**For the record, Adams would briefly return to The Brave and the Bold’s interior pages a couple more times over the next few years.  The latter of these involved him pitching in at the last minute to finish issue #102 when the assigned artist, Jim Aparo, fell ill.  But before that came #93 — a special one-shot fully drawn by Adams, with a script by Denny O’Neil, that’s probably the pinnacle of Adams’ body of work on the title.  I’m already looking forward to telling you more about that one in its very own blog post, a couple of years from now.


  1. I enjoyed this one, because it offers the perspective of someone who was reading these comics in real time, and who witnessed first-hand the major impact Neal Adams had on the character of Batman. It’s a bit difficult for us younger readers to understand just what a key role he played in forming the modern-day incarnation of the character.

    By the way, from everything I’ve read in interviews with both Adams and his various collaborators, he was an uncredited co-plotter on many of the stories he penciled. So it is fairly likely he played such a role on the various Deadman stories you referenced.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike W. · October 12, 2018

    Yeah, this issue is so much different than Haney’s usual zany, who-cares-about-continuity stuff, I always figured Adams had a hand (or a hook) in the scripting. The whole tone of the story is different, as you pointed out.

    I like these 50 year-old reviews; I was born in 1972, so I didn’t read these until years later, but there’s some good stuff here … your ten year-old self had good taste! I can’t wait until you get to the 70s to see what you were into … Tomb of Drac, MOKF, Fourth World … it was a great time to be a comics fan (or so I’ve always imagined).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · October 12, 2018

      Mike, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. And yeah, the Seventies were a pretty great time to be a comics fan. I hope to keep the blog going until at least 1975/2025, so if you hang around you’ll eventually get to read my take on the Fourth World, Conan, Marvel’s monster and Kung fu titles, and more. 🙂


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  6. Pat Conolly · January 24, 2020

    The Comic Book Resources article you linked to had this paragraph:
    “Beyond the damage caused to the character by Wertham and the creation of the Comics Code Authority, the popular 60s TV show took the Caped Crusader in an extremely campy direction. In the words of [neal] Adams, ‘As if Fredric Wertham and the U.S. Congress weren’t enough, the Batman TV show showed up.’ ”

    One thing forgotten is that for a few years before the TV show, DC was presenting a “science-fiction” Batman; oddball stories with silly-looking aliens. Not to mention Bat-Mite. I bought some of those at the time. Definitely aimed at little kids like me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · January 25, 2020

      Pat, I started reading comics too late to experience that era of Batman firsthand — though I was aware of the major stylistic shift that had occurred in 1964 even as a kid, thanks mostly to the “80-Page Giant” reprint issues! Anyway, I’ve discussed the shift briefly in a few other posts, including this one about my first Batman-starring comic (actually an issue of Detective):


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  9. Pingback: Justice League of America #94 (November, 1971) | Attack of the 50 Year Old Comic Books
  10. Pingback: Batman #242 (June, 1972) | Attack of the 50 Year Old Comic Books
  11. Pingback: Neal Adams: 1941 to 2022 – In My Not So Humble Opinion

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