Wonder Woman #171 (July-Aug., 1967)

It may be difficult for some younger comics fans to believe, but Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman haven’t always been perceived as a “Trinity” of characters standing head and shoulders above the rest of their fellow DC Comics heroes, in the Justice League and elsewhere.  That’s not to say that fans in earlier eras didn’t appreciate the special status of these three characters — the only superheroes to remain in virtually continuous publication in their own titles from the 1940s to the present day — but that appreciation didn’t necessarily equate to seeing the characters as equals.

When I first started reading comics in 1965, Batman and Superman were each headlining two titles of their own in addition to co-starring in World’s Finest, and were also appearing regularly in Justice League of America.  Add to that the two titles featuring Superboy, and (from late 1965 on), Batman’s frequent co-starring turns in The Brave and the Bold, and it was clear to me that these guys were DC’s Big Two, and no one else was in the same class.  Wonder Woman, after all, starred in just one title, and also appeared in JLA — which simply put her in the same good-sized camp as Aquaman, Atom, Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman.  Of course, Princess Diana also had the distinction of having been around in the same incarnation since the Forties, unlike most of those guys, as well as the unique quality of being the only female superhero with her own comic book, which put her a step ahead of Supergirl.  Still, all that wasn’t enough to give her iconic status — at least, not in the eyes of the (admittedly ignorant) little boy I was at the time.  Read More

Detective Comics #354 (August, 1966)

If you’ve ever read this blog, the cover of Detective #354 should already be familiar to you.  There it is, proudly displayed in the header above every post.  (UPDATE: The original header was retired in May, 2020, but can still be accessed via the link given above.)  Obviously, I have a lot of affection for this particular offering from the team of Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, who contributed so many classic covers to this era of Batman comics (and even got to sign this one — not a routine occurrence at the time).

In some ways, it’s a head-scratcher that the cover is as effective as it is.  A dozen or so thugs — none of them especially formidable-looking — are depicted standing in a half-circle around Batman, shaking their fists at him.  The cover copy describes this as “The Caped Crusader’s most dangerous trap”.  Really?  Even in 1966, and even without taking the then-insanely-popular TV show’s weekly cliffhangers into consideration, I believe my eight-year-old self must have been skeptical of that claim.  Sure, the odds are against him, but he’s Batman.  These hoods aren’t even armed.  Even if he’s not able to take them all down, our hero should at least be able to break free of this “most dangerous trap” and escape.  And while those “force lines” drawn around the thugs’ brandished fists may be intended to make them look more threatening, the actual effect comes off as just a little bit silly.  Read More