Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Who is YOUR Favorite Silver Age Batman?
It's kind of a funny thing about Batman. There are really two different takes on Batman during the Silver Age. See, when the Silver Age starts, around 1954, Batman is a different comic than it was in the 1940's, but not as different as it will become in 1964.
When DC's Silver Age gets rolling, it's due to the introduction of completely new versions of some of their Golden Age heroes, i.e.: The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, The Atom...
But things were different for the heroes who never went away. Changes were happening, but they were usually subtle. Aquaman got a new origin in 1959. Which was fine, since most of his readers were too young to remember his 1941 origin. Superman's powers had slowly been expanded and now derived from the radiation of Earth's yellow sun. Wonder Woman was still in the Air Force, but was far less about bondage.
And then there's Batman. Batman carried on with his same, cartoony self. Elaborate stories highlighted his need to protect his secret identity, his latest innovations in Bat-themed equipment, his struggles with his bizzarre villains
and showed off his ever-increasing supporting cast which included a Batwoman,
Bat-Hound and even Bat-Mite.
Batman in the late 50's was a rare treat of bizarre storytelling. Alien worlds, time travel, and an endless string of other hero teams who base their careers on Batman and Robin are common plot ideas. Batman goes through bizarre transformation after bizarre transformation. He is turned into an alien, a macro cephalic genius from the future, and even a baby!
Still, amongst all this brilliant, imaginative fun, nothing could have compared to the weird transformation he was about to undertake.
In 1964, editor Julis Schwartz introduced Batman's "New Look". Carmine Infantino was brought in to make the Caped Crusader look more realistic. Detective Comics regular Shelly Moldoff was told to curb his cartoony enthusiasm and draw a more life-like Batman. To help standardize the look, Inker Joe Giella was brought on to ink both titles . Schwartz fired Batwoman, Batgirl, Bat-Hound and even Bat-Mite. A new Batgirl was introduced and no reference to the previous Batgirl was ever mentioned.
The stories became less fanciful. Batman now fit in better with his Justice League peers- The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and The Atom. The Batmobile was made over as an open-top two-seater.
In 1966, Batman was broadcast to the world as a new comedy TV series.
Ironically, it was the weirdness of the earlier Batman that had inspired the show's highly stylized, campy take on the character. The TV show boosted sales of the comic, but the comic was much more staid that the TV show.
Personally, I prefer the pre-New Look Batman. No offense to the brilliant Carmine Infantino, but I prefer the more stylized, moody, noir look of the previous Batman. I really dig the Batmans of Shelly Moldoff, Dick Sprang,
Charles Paris... And more than that, I miss those weird stories and the never-ending string of supporting characters.
Which Batman do you prefer?