Friday, April 28, 2023
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Batman was my favorite super-hero until I created Black Lightning. Indeed, one of the main reasons I agreed to leave Marvel Comics in 1976 was because DC Comics offered me a Batman title, either one of the existing ones or a new one to be created by me. Naturally, DC never fulfilled that offer which, as my regular readers, know has been the pattern for my relationship with them throughout the past several decades. They offer me something, I accept the offer, they fail to honor the agreement. Sigh.
As a kid, I loved Batman because, in theory, I could become Batman. Kids are eternally hopeful. I was so insane for Batman that I would “train” myself to be him. I’d practice climbing things with a rope. I’d cut out odd facts and weather maps from our local newspaper. I would collect samples of dirt from around my neighborhood so that I could compare them to dirt from the crime scenes I knew would be turning up any day now. I never knew what became of that box, but I assume my mother found it, threw it away and added another reason to her long litany of reasons to be worried about me.
Another element of my love for Batman was he had range. He fought costumed criminals, regular gangsters, aliens and monsters. He was a friendly fellow and didn’t go around figuring out ways to murder his Justice League buddies. In short, I was a huge fan of the pre-dick Batman.
Some little while ago, I received a surprise gift from one of my wonderful readers. It was a spanking new copy of Batman The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1. A handsome hardcover with enough heft to it to easily crush a human skull. However, my intentions are more benign than that.
I’m going to read the Omnibus from cover and cover and, as I do so, write about the stories therein. I won’t write about every single story in the book, just those that spark comments. This will likely take several bloggy things to complete.
Let us begin...
The Silver Age (Kathy Kane) Batwoman made her debut in Detective Comics #233 [July 1956] in a story by Edmond Hamilton with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye. I liked the character a lot when I was younger and still do, probably more than any later incarnation.But, all these years later, this debut story just doesn’t sit right me. Her origin is excellent. Her bright costume was a nice contrast to Batman’s uniform. She was even pretty effective. What gets to me is that Batman made it his mission to get her out of the crime-fighting thing. He figured out her civilian identity and tracked her to her home. He lectured her on how criminals could also find out who she was and threaten her loved one. She agreed. She quit. Thankfully, she got over that moment of self-disrespect and suited up again.
Let me give this to you straight. The world’s greatest detective uncovers her identity. Something the majority of criminals would not be able to do. On the other hand, by 1956, any number of folks had uncovered Batman’s secret identity. Starting with butler Alfred and including several people who didn’t survive much longer after they figured it out. Double standard much?
The lesson to be learned here is clear. Even though he was mostly a pretty nice guy, Batman was always kind of a dick. Now let’s make sure Robin’s colorful costume is bright enough to draw the fire of Batman’s foes.
As I recall, Batman #101 [August 1956] was a typical issue of the title for the era. Three stories, each eight pages or less. I would read each issue in a single sitting - Did other readers spread the stories out over a day or three? - and generally enjoy them. It’s only as an adult that I look at them somewhat critically. I still enjoy them, but I do see the shortcomings but, just as importantly, relish the absurdities.
In Edmond Hamilton’s “The Vanished Batman,” it becomes necessary to make the public believe Batman is dead. Robin fights crime alone in a Robin-Mobile and a Robin-Plane to sell the scenario. I read the story today and I wonder if Batman had these vehicles in a secret storage unit or had them built in a matter of days.
Bill Finger’s “The Great Bat Cape Hunt” has our dynamic due looking for a Batman cape and cowl reveals Bruce Wayne to be the hero. It was a Batcave souvenir donned by mistake and which was then blown away. Our heroes must find it before someone discovered the secret. Along the way, lives are changed by the cape but the only one who has it long enough to learn the truth already knows it. It’s found by visiting reporter Clark Kent. Superman. Even then, I thought it was an easy and disappointing ending.
The best of three stories is Hamilton’s “The Six Strangest Sleuths” in which the box office for a benefit for Vaudeville performers is robbed. Batman enlists the aid of six former vaudevillians to help track down the crooks. The team includes a magician, a quick-change artist, a strongman, a ventriloquist, a tight-wire walker and an “Indian rubber man.” Eight pages long, it still manages to showcase each performer’s talents. I always wanted to see more of this off-beat team, but, alas they never appeared again.
In a better world, DC Comics would be receptive to my expanding the original tale to “book-length” and continuing the sleuths’ adventures in a delightfully quirky mini-series. I think it would be a good idea to lighten the ever grim DC Universe with an occasional “we’re just having fun” project.
Unlike when I read these comics originally, I’m stretching out my reading of this Omnibus collection. From time to time, I’ll write about the comics therein. Keep watching the bloggy.
I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
Friday, April 21, 2023
Thursday, April 20, 2023
"Tony! I'm so glad to hear that you had a fun and
fruitful Singapore trip! Quick Kaiju question: does Singapore have any
of their own Kaiju? I'd love to find something like that on DVD!"
I'm not aware of any movies, but Singapore does have a kaiju guardian name of Merlion. The statue pictured above is a popular tourist spot.
Monday, April 17, 2023
It’s been a month since I posted the first part of my Pensacon 2023 report and a crazy wonderful month it’s been. The highlight would Saintly Wife Barb and I traveling to Singapore where I was a guest speaker at Cosfest: Gardens by the Bay. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I’ll tell you all about it as soon as I get some other stuff off my desk.
At the tip top of my “things to do” list is a one-shot comic book I’ll be writing. I’m not going into any details at this point, but I start work on it tomorrow. That first day will consist of doing some basic research, communicating with the client, fleshing out a main character and writing a short story pitch. When I can tell you more, I will. Until then, you can expect me to post brief progress notes on my Facebook page.
Here’s a sort of bloggy thing checklist of what you can expect to see in this bloggy thing in the next few weeks.
I’ll be finishing/posting my Pensacon 2023 report.
I’ll be writing/posting the long-delayed “Things That Make Me Happy in March” column.
I’ll be writing/posting my Singapore/Cosfest trip report. I’m sure that will amount to several days worth of bloggy things.
I’ll be writing new gags for John Lustig’s Last Kiss and might have some exciting news for you on that front.
I’ll also be working on my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales for this summer. Because of my bum knee, that might be a bit more difficult than in previous years. Nevertheless, I will persist in bringing you the best damn garage sales in the area.
Speaking of the bum knee, some of you have sent private messages to express their concern. Yes, it’s true I needed a wheelchair making my way through various airports. Because even the most comfortable airline seats can trigger the bum knee, especially in the cases of the very long flights to and from Singapore.
Cosfest was held in a venue that was a bit of a hike. So I needed assistance navigating to and from there. No cause for concern there either. Most of the time the only assistance I ever need is from the legendary “Purple Cane,” my resplendent tribute to Prince. At home and in many places, I don’t even need the cane.
That catches you up for now. I’ll be back as soon as possible with the continuation of my Pensacola 2023 report.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
A bloggy reader asked that question. Sadly, for some reason, I am unable to respond to comments on my own damn blog. However, the answer to that question is soon.
My trip to Singapore has me running behind on a great many things. But here's the plan, I'm writing a "catching up" blog which will post soon.
That will be followed by the rest of my Pensacon reports.