Tuesday, April 23, 2024


I’ve been writing about the stories reprinted in Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus Volume One. It’s a massive tome that collects Batman #101-116 and Detective Comics #233-257, spanning mid-1956 through mid-1958. In an effort to cover more of these vintage comic books  faster, I’ll be going lighter on the story summaries. We start with one of the most iconic Batman tales of them all.

Detective Comics #241 [March 1957] features “The Rainbow Batman” by the legendary Edmond Hamilton with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye. Moldoff drew the cover as well.

Criminals steal valuable camera equipment, but Dick Grayson can’t change to Robin. He must save a little girl about to be hit by a car. In doing so, he injures his arm.

Batman knows the stolen cameras must play a part in some upcoming crime, but the crooks aren’t in his photo files. However, Robin can identify them if he sees them. The duo go on patrol hoping to spot the criminals before they can commit their big crime.

On each patrol, Batman wears a different color costume. Red, blue, green, gold, a white one with a target on its chest and the multi-hued title costume. Can you guess why Batman is wearing all these costumes? I bet you can.



The Moldoff cover for Batman #107 [April 1957] features “The Grown-Up Boy Wonder.” But the first story in the issue is “The Boy Who Adopted Batman” by an unknown writer with art by Moldoff and inker Charles Paris. It’s a heart-warming story about a lonely boy whose father died. His mom works a lot and is tired when she gets home, so the kid starts talking to a Batman statue in the park. Batman and Robin hear him and build a Bat-bicycle for him. One good turn deserves and the brave youngster helps the heroes track down a gang of token counterfeiters. The kid’s cleverness leads to a deserved happy ending for him and his mom. I really wish I knew the identity of this story’s writer. It’s a good one.

The second story is “Robin Falls in Love” by Batman co-creator Bill Finger with Moldoff and Paris on the art. Robin falls hard for 14-year-old ice skater Vera Lovely. Her agent prefers she publicity-dates an actor and tries to break them up. Meanwhile, a criminal is posing as a news photographer to steal a pair of skates auctioned off for charity. Just another day in Gotham.

“The Grown-Up Boy Wonder” is by Finger, Moldoff and Kaye. Batman and Robin are examining a lead-lined box Superman brought back from space. When the box is opened, it releases a mysterious gas which ages the Boy Wonder into manhood. Against Batman’s wishes, Robin appropriates Bruce Wayne’s masquerade costume and takes on the new identity of Owlman. But the former kid isn’t used to fighting as a bigger stronger adult and that causes problems as the heroes take on the Daredevils, a team of acrobatic jewel thieves.


Detective Comics #242 [April 1957] cover-features “The Underworld Bat-Cave” by an unknown writer. I seem to recall Leigh Brackett did some writing for DC Comics. Could she be the mysterious wordsmith? The cover was drawn by Moldoff with the interior story bu Moldoff and Paris.

A treasure hunt stunt is part of a plan to discover the location of the Bat-Cave and Batman’s secret identity. The criminals expose a flaw in the Cave’s security protocols, but Batman, Robin and Alfred foil them with an elaborate plan of their own.  


Batman gets large in Detective Comics #243 [May 1957]. “Batman the Giant is by Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Paris. The cover is drawn by Moldoff. A scientist creates two remarkable inventions:

“My maximizer enlarges any object by drawing cosmic electricity to expand its atoms! My minimizer diminishes by the reverse process.”

After seeing a diamond expanded to the size of a basketball, crook Jay Vanney tries to steal the inventions. Batman is struck by the enlarging way and grows to thirty feet. Vanney only gets away with the minimizer. Batman is banned from Gotham, but he has the machine  Vanney wants. Their showdown takes an unexpected turn.


The first two of the three stories in Batman #108 [June 1957] are by an unknown writer or writers. The cover is by Moldoff and Paris.

“The Big Batman Quiz” plays off live quiz and other TV shows. Bats and Robin are on the set of “The Big Quiz” to confirm answers about their crime-fighting careers. The contestant, a Batman expert, is two answers away from winning $125,000. In 2024, the amount would be $1,364,528.47. Following the quiz show, the next live program would be “Interview with Crime” featuring the convict Garth.

The Batman expert is asked to reveal Batman’s secret identity and, seen only by Batman, he answers correctly. But then the contestant is poisoned in the question booth and the paper with the identity goes missing. An escaped Garth appears to be the killer, but there are some nice twists in this eight-page tale.

The six-page “Prisoners of the Bat-Cave” is also drawn by Moldoff and Paris. This short-but-frantic tale finds our heroes trying to prove a man is innocent mere hours before the man is set to die in the electric chair. Making their job all the more difficult is that a mechanical failure and a fire bomb have them trapped in the Bat-Cave with no means of communicating information to the authorities. I think this unknown writer is the same as the unknown writers in some of the other scripts we’ve discussed. There is a cleverness to his or her work.

“The Career of Batman Jones” is by Finger, Moldoff and Paris. When the title character’s parents take their newborn child home from the hospital, they are rescued from a failed brakes situation by Batman. In gratitude, they name the kid “Batman.” As the lad grows up, he becomes obsessed with being a detective like Batman. Despite his age, he’s good. But how can our heroes keep the youngster safe from the dangers that come with his obsession?


Detective Comics #244 [June 1957] featured “The 100 Batarangs of Batman” by Finger, Moldoff and Paris with Moldoff going solo on the cover. Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Batman (1988) was on point when he remarked Batman had the best toys. That was one of the many things my younger self found so fascinating about the Batman comic books of my youth. Though many of the batarangs in this story were wildly aerodynamically unsound, I still got a kick out of them.

This 12-pager is a favorite of mine. Crooks steal films of Batman using various batarangs so they can create their own and use them against our hero. We get to see how Batman learned about batarangs from Austrian Lee Collins. We get flashbacks of Batman and Robin using the Magnetic Batarang, the Seeing-Eye Batarang and more. We are teased with a mystery batarang and see Batman use it as he goes up against the villains’ Bomb-Batarangs. I was so thrilled I never  noticed the cover wrongly included a Bomb-Batarang among those in the Bat-Cave.

That’s it for this part of my Silver Age Batman musings. I’ll have more for you in the near future.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Martin O'Hearn was the guy who identified most of the Batman writers listed in this collection. I dont know where is these days. His blog has gone silent.