Captain Marvel #12 (April, 1969)

Regular readers of this blog will have heard me say this before, but it bears repeating — sometimes, I just have no idea why my younger self chose to buy a particular comic book fifty years ago.

That’s certainly the case with the subject of today’s post.  After passing Captain Marvel by on the stands for almost a year, in January, 1969 I decided to gamble twelve cents on the series’ twelfth issue.  How come?

Was it the cover, by John Romita and Sal Buscema (or maybe George Tuska and Buscema — the usual reference sources differ)?  I suppose it could be.  It’s not a particularly distinguished composition (at least, not to my present-day, 61-year-old eyes), but it’s not what I’d call bad — and those bright, contrasting colors really do pop.  So, maybe.

Perhaps it was the result of a long-simmering curiosity about the character that had been sparked by my reading of the “Captain Marvin” parody in the ninth issue of Marvel’s Not Brand Echh series, back in May of ’68.  That piece, produced by the “real” Captain Marvel’s onetime writer and penciller (Roy Thomas and Gene Colan, respectively) had served as a sort of primer on the origin, powers, and modus operandi of “Marvel’s Space-Born Super-Hero!™” — though one read through a cracked glass, as it were.  It had also been pretty funny to my then ten-year-old sensibilities, even if Thomas’ gags referencing the original Captain Marvel had gone right over my head.  So, maybe I recalled this story when I saw Captain Marvel #12 on the spinner rack, and decided to give the “real thing” a try.  Read More

The Brave and the Bold #76 (Feb.-March, 1968)

When I picked up this issue of Brave and the Bold fifty years ago (give or take a couple of weeks), Batman’s co-star in the book, Plastic Man, had been around for over twenty-six years — almost as long as the Caped Crusader himself.  But he’d only been a DC Comics hero for a little over one year — which is about as long as my ten-year-old self had been aware of him.  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

Detective Comics #344 (October, 1965)

I think that this was the second comic book I bought, but I’m not sure.  It has the same cover date as Superman #180, but so does another comic I bought around the same time.  I’m sure Superman #180 was the very first, but my memory of the specific sequence of acquisitions is a little dim after that.  I feel like Batman followed right after Superman, however, and it also seems like the most appropriate choice — so that’s what I’m going with here.

My memory is also trying to tell me that I was previously aware of Batman from commercials for his upcoming live-action series (maybe even one featuring the Batusi?), but that seems pretty unlikely.  The premiere of ABC’s “Batman” was still 5 months away, and I don’t believe that networks aired promos that far in advance in those days — but I could be wrong.  Assuming there hadn’t been any such commercials, however, I must have had only a vague idea of who Batman was and what he was all about.  Only a year later, Batman would be everywhere — toys, records, books, trading cards, other novelties, a movie — but in the summer of ’65 there were only the comics.  Read More