Deck Log Entry # 223 Passing the Bat-Torch---Part Two

Many Silver-Age DC titles instituted their own continuing features.  A series within a series, so to speak.  Green Lantern ran annual tales involving Hal Jordan's two brothers and his sister-in-law's mistaken belief that youngest brother Jim was the Emerald Crusader.  The Atom's back-up stories often took the Tiny Titan on adventures in the Time Pool.  Blackhawk fans were periodically treated to "Combat Diary" entries about the Black Knights' missions during World War II.

 

Occasionally, such an on-going feature would even cross title boundaries, such as Zatanna's search for her father, which extended through issues of Hawkman, Green Lantern, The Atom, Detective Comics, and Justice League of America.

 

In the early 1960's, editor Jack Schiff and writer Bill Finger introduced such a sub-series about the Second Batman and Robin Team in the pages of Batman.  They were semi-imaginary stories---"semi" because they were framed by the conceit that they were being written by Alfred the butler.  These accounts described the projected adventures of a new Dynamic Duo, taking place after the original Batman's retirement.

 

The premise followed predictable lines.  Sometime "in the future", Bruce Wayne marries Kathy Kane, and they produce a son, Bruce Wayne, Junior.  Years later, the elder Wayne retires from his crime-fighting activities as the Batman and, following the natural course, the now-grown Dick Grayson takes over as the new Masked Manhunter.

 

Bruce Wayne, Jr.'s purpose for literary life becomes clear when he becomes the new Boy Wonder.

 

Nor did Bill Finger show any innovation in developing the idea of a second-generation Batman and Robin.  At least, not in the first three stories, which all followed the same pattern:  after failing to capture a criminal, the new team would be lured into a trap, requiring the original Batman to rescue them.

 

It was repetitive, and it left the second Batman and Robin looking . . . well . . . like a couple of stumblebums.  Finger was going to have to come up with a better showing for the new Dynamic Duo.

 

But, first, he would have the writing career of Alfred go off on a tangent.

 

 

 

Regular Batman readers were probably expecting it to be some sort of hoax when the cover of issue # 151 (Nov., 1962) announced that Batman and Robin's true identities had been publicly revealed.  But, sure enough, right there on page two, the Gotham Gangbuster is unmasked as Bruce Wayne.  The Dynamic Duo are forced to adopt new civilian identities, while the Batcave is relocated under a filling station run by a wig-wearing Alfred the butler . . . er . . . "Edward the mechanic".  However, the change in their crime-fighting operations causes more problems than it solves.  By the end of the tale, Batman and Robin's new civilian identities are exposed, leaving Our Heroes to wonder what to do next.

 

To the Bat-fans, this new status quo must have seemed solidly real; after all, DC devoted two-thirds of the magazine to "Batman's New Secret Identity".  Then, at the bottom of the last page, the rug got pulled out from beneath them.  The same rug, in fact, that had been yanked at the début of the Second Batman and Robin Team.  In fact, Bruce Wayne even asks Alfred if he's writing another tale of the second team.

 

Yep, it's Alfred pounding away on his trusty Underwood again, only this time with a different idea:  what would happen if Batman had to establish a new secret identity?

 

Even money says this was an attempt to establish a new continuing feature, one which would see Batman and Robin taking on new secret identities in each tale.  But the idea didn't take off.

 

On the other hand, Alf, and Bill Finger, were more successful at shaking things up with the next Second Batman and Robin Team story.

 

 

"Danger Strikes Four", Batman # 154 (March, 1963)

 

It begins in the real continuity, with the young Dick Grayson reading Alfred's next work-in-progress.

 

Once again, the pulpsmithing butler is pitting the new team against an old foe of the first Batman, one actually confronted by the real Dynamic Duo---criminal scientist Hal Durgin, from "The Negative Batman", Detective Comics # 284 (Oct., 1960).

 

Batman II and Robin II are attending the demonstration of a new scientific advancement, Magog, a powerful fifty-foot-tall robot, designed for digging ores buried deep within the moon.  Built to withstand the rigours of space, the mechanical marvel is nearly indestructible.  The criminal Durgin overrides the radio signals controlling Magog and steals it by activating the robot's boot jets, causing it to fly off to parts unknown.  As could be expected, the second Batman-Robin team is unable to prevent it.

 

Durgin broadcasts a threat.  He will send Magog rampaging through Gotham City the next day---unless the city coughs up one million dollars.  The mayor's response:  "Nuts!"

 

In the Batcave, after studying the file on Durgin's personal habits, Batman II sets out a lure for the rogue scientist the next morning.  Instead, it attracts one of his henchmen, but that's good enough.  In their whirly-bats, the Dynamic Duo 2.0 follow the underling's car from above and are led straight to Durgin's cavern hide-out in the mountains outside the city.

 

Unfortunately, Magog is guarding the entrance.  With the deadline looming, the new team lands and builds a fire out of twigs and damp leaves, creating a heavy smoke which blinds the giant robot's optical sensors.  Batman II and Robin II dash through the smokescreen and tackle the cave-dwelling crooks swiftly.  But not swiftly enough to prevent Durgin from launching Magog.  The steel behemoth launches, its gyro-compass heading it straight for Gotham City----

 

It's the last page of the manuscript.  Dick wants to know what happens next.  "I haven't figured that out, yet!" confesses Alfred.

 

Unfortunately, the real Batman and Robin are about to have problems of their own.  Gang boss "Big Al" Finney is in prison, and Big Al doesn't like being in prison.  He's arranged for his gang to launch a flying bomb along the lines of Nazi Germany's wartime V-1 toward Gotham City, unless he's released within three hours.

 

In the apartment of one of Finney's gang, the Dynamic Duo finds a clue to the whereabouts of the buzz-bomb's launching point.  It's an off-shore island that was once used as a refuse dump.  After landing the Batplane, Batman and Robin spot a trio of hoods guarding a large shed and guess that's where the flying bomb is hangared.  Recalling the similar situation in Alfred's manuscript, the Boy Wonder sets the cushion from a junked auto on fire, and black billows engulf the sentries.

 

Silently overpowering them, the caped crimefighters then burst into the shed, finding the buzz-bomb on a rail and Finney's chief lieutenant at the switch.  Batman disarms the thug with a batarang, but the pistol discharges into the control panel, accidentally starting the launch sequence.  Before Our Heroes can do anything, the flying munition takes off for Gotham City.

 

For once, the Masked Manhunter is caught short, but Robin has been here before, so to speak.  He has them take off in the Batplane, and the swifter conveyance soon overtakes the buzz-bomb.  While Batman manœuvres the ship, the Boy Wonder climbs down a rope ladder and drops atop the winged explosive.  He then attaches a small, but powerful magnet next to the bomb's gyro-compass. 

 

The magnet pulls the compass-needle from its set course.  Gradually, the heading of the buzz-bomb shifts---until it's headed away from Gotham and out to sea.  Robin clambers back up the ladder to the safety of the Batplane, as the buzz-bomb explodes in the water.

 

When they return to Wayne Manor, Robin is able to dictate the solution for the cliffhanger Alfred had written the second Dynamic Duo into.

 

The butler's dancing digits type.  Batman II and Robin II overtake the flying Magog in their whirly-bats.  The second Boy Wonder leaps to the back of the giant robot and attaches a strong magnet to alter the heading direction of its gyro-compass.  The mechanical monster plunges into the sea.  The end.

 

The story---Finger's that is, not Alfred's---relies on the fact that the existence of Alfred's fictional "Second Batman and Robin Team" tales are now part of the "real" Bat-mythos.  By paralleling the fictional Magog adventure with the actual case of Big Al's buzz-bomb, one influences the other.  It's the most creative story in the Batman II-Robin II series, and, for once, the new team manages to beat the villain on their own.

 

The next "second generation" tale would be another change of pace.

 

 

"The Boyhood of Bruce Wayne, Jr.", Batman # 159 (November, 1963)

 

Or, at least, as much as can be told of it in nine pages.  As always, Alfred iterates the marriage of Bruce Wayne and Kathy Kane.  But then he proceeds to relate the event of Bruce Wayne, Jr.'s birth a year later.

 

On the evening that Kathy Wayne goes into labour, her pacing husband steps outside the hospital for a breath of fresh air, with Dick Grayson in tow.  They spot bandits fleeing across a rooftop and, switching to their costumed identities, corral the thieves.  Afterward, Bruce rushes back to the maternity ward, where Kathy introduces him to their newborn son.

 

The tale then skips baby's first words, his first steps, and his first day of school to a time when Bruce, Jr., is about seven or eight years old.  A natural athlete, young Bruce swiftly catches on to the gymnastic stunts taught to him by his "Uncle" Dick. 

 

But nothing shows that Junior is a chip off the old Wayne block as much as the evening when, following a television news report, he intuits the method by which the Green Owl Gang was able to make itself, their stolen loot, and their getaway truck disappear from the sight of the pursuing Batman and Robin.  Overhearing the boy's speculations, his parents and Dick realise that he might be on to something.  Thus, Batman and Robin and Batwoman are able to thwart the gang's "vanishing act" the next time it commits a robbery.

 

Bruce, Jr., is unaware of his contribution because, as Alfred relates, at his age, he has not been told of his family's dual identities.  Shortly thereafter, that lack of knowledge by the son will create a sticky situation for the father.

 

One day, young Bruce and some pals attend an exhibition baseball game sponsored by the Police Athletic League, at which the Batman makes a special appearance.  After the game, the boys lurk near the employees' exit, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Masked Manhunter.  One of the kids brags that his father is the first baseman for the Gotham Stars, the local major-league baseball team, and is as famous as the Batman.

 

When asked what his father does, Bruce, Jr., can relate only that his dad sits behind a desk, and he gets red-faced when the other kids aren't too impressed.  (I'll bet the reaction would have been 'way different if Junior had said, "My dad's a multi-gazillionaire who could buy the Gotham Stars and then fire your dad!")  To save face, young Bruce blurts out, "My father is really---Batman!"

 

Junior hopes his friends believe his economy-sized whopper.  On the other hand, Batman, who was just coming out the exit and overheard the exchange, hopes that the other kids don't believe it---because it's actually the truth.  In fact, he's going to make sure that they don't, even though it means adding to his son's embarrassment.

 

As Batman passes the youngsters on the street, he doesn't give Bruce, Jr., any acknowledgement.  So, of course, the other kids give Brucie the business.  Then, the Caped Crusader turns and gives the boys a lecture on fatherhood.

 

"Every boy's father is important!" he concludes.  "Remember that!"

 

Fortunately, Alfred assures us in the last panel, Bruce Wayne, Jr., gets a lot smarter by the time he becomes the new Robin, the Boy Wonder.

 

 

"Bat-Girl---Batwoman II", Batman # 163 (May, 1964)

 

The final tale in the Second Batman and Robin Team saga begins with a knock on the front door of Wayne Manor.

 

Kathy Wayne answers it to find her niece, Betty Kane, somewhat taller and curvier than when she had visited Kathy years before.  Betty had left Gotham City to accompany her father when his business interests took him to Europe. 

 

But I'm an adult now and I've moved back to stay, she explains, and, oh, haven't I filled out nicely?

 

Dick Grayson, who's dropped by for a family dinner, certainly thinks so. 

 

"She was pretty when she was younger, but now she's gorgeous!"

 

Before I go any further, it would be in the best interests of my readers, especially those who weren't Silver-Age Batman followers, to provide a score card of sorts:

 

■  Kathy and Bruce and Dick know that Betty used to be Bat-Girl.

 

■  Betty knows that Kathy used to be Batwoman, but doesn't know that Bruce and Dick were the original Batman and Robin.

 

■  Bruce, Jr., knows that Kathy was Batwoman, but doesn't know that Betty was Bat-Girl.

 

Got it?  That should help keep the rest of the story events straight.

 

Betty dines with the Waynes.  After dinner, Dick and Bruce, Jr., excuse themselves to take in a night baseball game.  But they're actually going to attend an out-of-town charity function as Batman II and Robin II.

 

Kathy re-opens her old house for Betty to use until she gets settled.  The trip down Memory Lane winds up in Kathy's version of the Batcave, which was her base of operations as Batwoman back in her single days.  The older woman fondles her costume, ruefully accepting that her crime-fighting days are past.

 

Batwoman's outfit gets Betty's mental wheels turning, though; she figures that she's the right age to wear spandex.

 

Later, back in the Wayne household, Bruce is also feeling nostalgic.  He tells Kathy that Betty's visit reminded him of the days when he was the vigourous alpha male of the Bat-family.  As if on cue, the bat-signal pierces the night sky.  The new Dynamic Duo is still away, and Bruce decides it can't hurt if he responds to the alert, just to find out what's up.

 

At police headquarters, the Batman is briefed by Jim Gordon, who's still the police commissioner, even though he must be pushing seventy.

 

"Remember Milo, the underworld inventor?  He's out of prison and planning to sell gangland bosses some sensational machines for crime!" reports Gordon.  "Milo must be found and stopped!"

 

The Caped Crusader takes the case.  Figuring that Milo is going to ring in his old gang, he trails one of the rogue scientist's henchmen to an abandoned railroad yard.  From hiding, he observes the rest of Milo's gang arrive to witness a demonstration of their boss' latest invention---the flying hand!

 

As Milo pilots the huge mechanical hand overhead, he spots Batman and plucks him off the ground with the device's finger-like appendages.

 

Alfred, like most pulp writers, relies heavily on coïncidence to move his plot along, so, "as chance would have it", Betty Kane has chosen this very night and place to go out on her first patrol as Batwoman II.  She spots the Gotham Gangbuster dangling helplessly from the mechanical digits of the flying hand.  Acting swiftly, she shoots off a rocket flare, blinding Milo.  The criminal scientist momentarily releases the controls, dropping Batman over a railroad shed.

 

Milo's vision returns sufficiently for him to gather up his men and fly off.  This turns out to be a fortunate thing for, otherwise, they would have seen what Betty Kane was about to see.

 

As Batman tumbles down the slanted roof, his cloak snags on a shingle and comes loose from his shoulders, cowl and all.  Betty exclaims at the sight of Bruce Wayne's face.  A second later, she's put it all together and realises that the first Robin was Dick Grayson when he was younger.  Batwoman II's identity is no mystery to Batman, either.  Not with those blonde tresses.

 

Once who's behind what mask is sorted out, the crimefighters get back to work.  From a stray comment made by Milo, Batman and the young Batwoman track the crooked inventor to an old sports arena, long disused and abandoned---except it's not abandoned, now.  Milo is playing host to eight of gangdom's top racketeers, hoping to market his various crime inventions---sort of a Tupperware party for crooks.

 

The wily inventor has not neglected security.  When a sentry tips off Milo to the presence of Batman and Batwoman II, he "demonstrates" one of his devices by using its charge of anæsthetic gas to knock out the two heroes.

 

 

Meanwhile, Batman II and Robin II have returned from their charity engagement, and a worried Kathy fills them in.  A conference with Commissioner Gordon deepens the new Dynamic Duo's suspicions that the senior Batman is in a jam.   

 

Truer thoughts were never thunk.  Back at the old stadium, the gangbosses are all for pumping the unconscious and now bound Bat-heroes full of lead.  Milo vetoes this course of action; he's in movie-villain mode now, and he wants to toy with his prey.  He waits for the pair to revive, then comes at Batman with a giant mallet attached to the rear of an automobile.  The design purpose was to crush any pursuing police cars with the huge hammer, but it will also smoosh Caped Crusaders just fine.

 

Over and over, Milo backs his gimmicked vehicle at his intended victim; and over and over, Batman dodges the giant mallet.  Just barely.

 

Fortunately, the rogue inventor's posturing has given Batman II and Robin II time to piece together clues leading to the arena.  Alertly, Batwoman II provides a diversion, allowing the new team to cross the field and stop Milo.  Once untied, the former Bat-Girl appropriates the giant flying hand and uses it to shield her teammates from bullets, while the three spear-side crimefighters thrash a goodly number of the F.B.I.'s most-wanted list.

 

Afterward, a happy reunion in the Batcave . . . for Dick Grayson, in particular.

* * * * *

 

 

And, with that, a door closed.  Not just on the Second Batman and Robin Team feature, but on the entire Batman series as we knew it.  The next issue would see the Masked Manhunter dragged into the Silver Age by Julius Schwartz, who had replaced Jack Schiff as editor of the Bat-titles.  The "New Look" had already been introduced in Detective Comics # 327 (May, 1964), and part of Schwartz's housecleaning was to jettison Batwoman, Bat-Mite, and the rest of the extended Bat-family from the mythos.  Fans might catch glimpses of them in Mort Weisinger's World's Finest Comics, but they had been excised from Schwartz's Bat-continuity for good, as if they had never existed.  And Betty (Bat-Girl) Kane fared the worst.  After the "million-dollar début" of the shapelier, titian-haired Barbara Gordon "Batgirl", she never had a chance. Betty dropped completely off the Silver-Age radar.   

 

DC enjoyed playing with the Batman concept, placing the character in different environments.  Over the years, readers had been treated to the Batman of the 31st century, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, Bat-Gaucho, and other incarnations of the Caped Crusader.  But the only one to return more than once was Batman II.  As Philip Portelli pointed out, in his commentary on part one of this piece, later in the Silver Age, writers avoided the idea of putting Dick Grayson in the bat-costume, preferring to keep him in the identity of an adult Robin.

 

But the idea of Grayson taking over as the Batman was logical, and teaming him with young Bruce Wayne, Jr., was appealing.  Appealing, and memorable, enough for John Byrne to include the second Dynamic Duo in his 1996 graphic novel, Batman & Captain America.

 

If the Powers That Be hadn't decided to revamp their cowled cashcow in 1964, it's likely that the stories of the next-generation Batman and Robin would've continued.  The format allowed the various bat-characters to stretch and grow without affecting the mainstream continuity.  Developments that, in the 1970's, would be enacted by having them occur in the life of the Bruce Wayne of Earth-Two---Wayne as Gotham City police commissioner, his daughter becoming the Huntress, Dick Grayson earning a law degree---could just as easily have come from Alfred's typewriter.

 

As it was, the loyal butler cranked out a pretty good stack of manuscripts before Julie Schwartz got rid of him, too.  Good thing that snoopy Aunt Harriet didn't find them.

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Good Job,, I really enjoy reading about the Silver Age DC stories,, Brings back memories of getting these books off of the spinner racks at the drug Store and off the shelf of the Cigar store in Erie Pa,,,Thank you again for doing them,,

Greg

I knew the first couple of stories in this cycle but I had no idea at all about these last three. Much like the Superman of the thirtieth century, it seems to have ended just when it was getting really interesting.

Did Byrne use this in his Generations series as well? It's been a long while since I read it.

And as Gregory says, excellent post, as usual.

Thanks for the kind words, fellows.  The thing I love most about doing this column is the opportunity to expose folks to the stuff they might have missed during the Silver Age.  I'm glad I'm able to do that from time to time.

Hi Commander! Hope you and the GMB are doing well these days! Thought I'd chime in on these stories and give you some ideas.

Batman II and Robin II suffered from one basic flaw; SOMEBODY had to be fooled and captured in every story so that the other generation could come to the rescue. Considering that the Boy Wonder was able to carry his own strip (Star Spangled Comics), it's awkward that he was so incompetent as an adult.

It would have worked, I believe, if part of his problem that was touched on (as you noted) were utilized; he was so worried about his "nephew" that he wasn't fully focused on the job. So that these clown villains (literally with Joker II) got the best of him. Robin II was obvious; he hadn't trained and studied quite well enough at that point to be fully Robin, which made Dick's concerns accurate. A little more on that would have worked too (e.g., "The Failure of Robin-II!")

I can't think Bill Finger missed a cue on these tales, so I wonder if he was under restriction by Jack Schiff at the time. "The book is Batman, Bill. We need Batman in every story" as I imagine the conversation might have gone. Even though, in this fogey's humble opinion, Robin was PLENTY strong enough to carry his own stories.

Constantly dropping Kathy Kane out was okay; sometimes she just wasn't around to be Batwoman. In fact, she might have received better coverage in this series than in the regular Batman stories. I don't know how many times she appeared, but it couldn't have been more than a dozen total, including two World's Finest appearances. And including Batwoman II, that made a crime fighting Batman family of five characters - and NOBODY had that kind of heroic support! Shucks, even the Teen Titans, the Challengers of the Unknown,  and the Doom Patrol didn't exceed five characters, and those were main titles. Thus... they might have been pushing it a touch.

One other thing I would have enjoyed - a World's Finest II story. If Bruce and Kathy had a child, it was entirely expected that Clark and "someone" would have - and it was patently obvious that that would be Lois. World's Finest posited a few stories of the super sons*, as did a few imaginary tales in Weisinger's books.

Imagine that kind of story! Superman, Superman Jr., Batman, Batwoman, Batman II, Robin II, and Batwoman II - all fighting crime in a nine page story. There wouldn't have been room for Alfred, Ace, and Krypto.** :)

Still, a good tale with Superman Jr., Batman II, and Robin II would have been very fun. Not that Weisinger would have allowed Bill Finger within a hundred miles of Superman, more's the pity.

The concept had a lot of potential, and may be legs enough to stand on its own - but as you noted, the "New Age" Batman debuted, and Julie stripped out EVERYTHING - even Alfred. In a case of bad timing, Batman: the Next Generation just fell down without a chance.

But I can't help but wonder what could have happened in the late 70s with every title getting backups and new ideas launched in new titles - could DC have managed "DC: The Next Generation" at that time? Marvel got away with it thirty years later...

Still, at least they got good treatment from John Byrne in "Batman/Captain America" and his Generations books. It's just too good an idea to crumple up and throw away.

Great analysis as always, Commander! Keep up the good work!

* Not to be confused with the feature in 70s World's Finest books.

** And Krypto's and Ace's litters... but now we're going WAY too far afield!

Superman #166 (Ja'66) is my favorite Silver Age "Son (or Sons) of Superman" story. You really feel for Kal-El II who inherited NONE of his father's super-powers while his twin brother, Jor-El II (actually III) got them ALL! Them meeting and being friends with Bruce Wayne, Jr. would have made a great tale!

"Even though, in this fogey's humble opinion, Robin was PLENTY strong enough to carry his own stories."

True, but even without that, I think the second generation could have done fine on their own. I was quite happy accepting them as Batman and Robin; I didn't sit around wondering where the "real" Batman was.

What was the Weisinger/Finger issue? I know Finger wrote a few Superman and WF Superman/Batman tales so I wasn't aware there was any real conflict.

Fraser



Eric L. Sofer said:

Hi Commander! Hope you and the GMB are doing well these days! Thought I'd chime in on these stories and give you some ideas.

Batman II and Robin II suffered from one basic flaw; SOMEBODY had to be fooled and captured in every story so that the other generation could come to the rescue. Considering that the Boy Wonder was able to carry his own strip (Star Spangled Comics), it's awkward that he was so incompetent as an adult.

It would have worked, I believe, if part of his problem that was touched on (as you noted) were utilized; he was so worried about his "nephew" that he wasn't fully focused on the job. So that these clown villains (literally with Joker II) got the best of him. Robin II was obvious; he hadn't trained and studied quite well enough at that point to be fully Robin, which made Dick's concerns accurate. A little more on that would have worked too (e.g., "The Failure of Robin-II!")

I can't think Bill Finger missed a cue on these tales, so I wonder if he was under restriction by Jack Schiff at the time. "The book is Batman, Bill. We need Batman in every story" as I imagine the conversation might have gone. Even though, in this fogey's humble opinion, Robin was PLENTY strong enough to carry his own stories.

Constantly dropping Kathy Kane out was okay; sometimes she just wasn't around to be Batwoman. In fact, she might have received better coverage in this series than in the regular Batman stories. I don't know how many times she appeared, but it couldn't have been more than a dozen total, including two World's Finest appearances. And including Batwoman II, that made a crime fighting Batman family of five characters - and NOBODY had that kind of heroic support! Shucks, even the Teen Titans, the Challengers of the Unknown,  and the Doom Patrol didn't exceed five characters, and those were main titles. Thus... they might have been pushing it a touch.

One other thing I would have enjoyed - a World's Finest II story. If Bruce and Kathy had a child, it was entirely expected that Clark and "someone" would have - and it was patently obvious that that would be Lois. World's Finest posited a few stories of the super sons*, as did a few imaginary tales in Weisinger's books.

Imagine that kind of story! Superman, Superman Jr., Batman, Batwoman, Batman II, Robin II, and Batwoman II - all fighting crime in a nine page story. There wouldn't have been room for Alfred, Ace, and Krypto.** :)

Still, a good tale with Superman Jr., Batman II, and Robin II would have been very fun. Not that Weisinger would have allowed Bill Finger within a hundred miles of Superman, more's the pity.

The concept had a lot of potential, and may be legs enough to stand on its own - but as you noted, the "New Age" Batman debuted, and Julie stripped out EVERYTHING - even Alfred. In a case of bad timing, Batman: the Next Generation just fell down without a chance.

But I can't help but wonder what could have happened in the late 70s with every title getting backups and new ideas launched in new titles - could DC have managed "DC: The Next Generation" at that time? Marvel got away with it thirty years later...

Still, at least they got good treatment from John Byrne in "Batman/Captain America" and his Generations books. It's just too good an idea to crumple up and throw away.

Great analysis as always, Commander! Keep up the good work!

* Not to be confused with the feature in 70s World's Finest books.

** And Krypto's and Ace's litters... but now we're going WAY too far afield!

I remember that one and I loved the big finish ("Sometimes science can beat super-powers!").  Go Kal-El II!

Philip Portelli said:

Superman #166 (Ja'66) is my favorite Silver Age "Son (or Sons) of Superman" story. You really feel for Kal-El II who inherited NONE of his father's super-powers while his twin brother, Jor-El II (actually III) got them ALL! Them meeting and being friends with Bruce Wayne, Jr. would have made a great tale!

Two years after Superman #166 came World's Finest Comics #154 (D'65) with two completely new versions of Kal-El II/Jr. and Bruce Wayne, Jr. despite that here Kathy Kane was still his mother! Here Lois is the Wife of Steel though in Superman #166, Superman's wife is an unnamed, extremely shy woman!

Really a missed opportunity for sequels and imaginary continuity!

Eric L. Sofer said:

Robin II was obvious; he hadn't trained and studied quite well enough at that point to be fully Robin, which made Dick's concerns accurate.

To me, this means that Bruce and Kathy's son shouldn't have been in costume until he was fully trained.

It was unusual that two people with black hair would produce a child with red hair; if they both had a recessive gene for red hair, they could. Also, in the U.S. red hair is not common, which would seem to point a finger at Robin II's secret identity. In The Flash, when red-headed Kid Flash got his new hair- exposing costume they came up with a trick. They disguised his red hair as brown (with a gas!) in the costume's second or third appearance. 

Philip Portelli said:

Here Lois is the Wife of Steel though in Superman #166, Superman's wife is an unnamed, extremely shy woman!

I remember that a trick used a few times had "Mrs Superman" as a shadowy silhouette. The silhouette, however, always seemed to have the perfect shape of Lois' head and hairstyle.

In the Bronze Age Super-Sons stories in World's Finest, the mothers of Clark, Jr. and Bruce Jr. (geez, their dads have no imaginations for names!) were neither fully shown nor named.

Eric L. Sofer said:

Hi Commander! Hope you and the GMB are doing well these days! Thought I'd chime in on these stories and give you some ideas.

Fogey, the GMB and I are most well, thank you, and we trust you and yours are the same!  As always, you raise some cogent points, and I'm mostly on the same page with you.

Batman II and Robin II suffered from one basic flaw; SOMEBODY had to be fooled and captured in every story so that the other generation could come to the rescue. 

That was certainly the template for four of the six Second Batman and Robin Team stories. I believe, though, that if the New Look had not occurred, and Alfred's semi-imaginary series had continued, Jack Schiff and Bill Finger would have eventually delivered tales in which the second team stood on its own. It's just that Schiff wasn't sure when to trust his readers to be able to enjoy the concept on its own merit, without having to include the "real" Batman.  At the time, I was of the same mind as Mr. Sherman---I was already on board with the idea of a new team, and didn't need the senior Batman to keep showing up.

It would have worked, I believe, if part of his problem that was touched on (as you noted) were utilized; he was so worried about his "nephew" that he wasn't fully focused on the job. So that these clown villains (literally with Joker II) got the best of him. Robin II was obvious; he hadn't trained and studied quite well enough at that point to be fully Robin.

Yes, it's a pity that Finger didn't follow up on those points he raised in the first new Batman-Robin team story. The emotional concerns would have made for a more satisfying way of distinguishing the generational differences between the two Dynamic Duos than just giving the new team "II's" on their chests and the second Robin a different hair colour.

I would have added one more piece of psychological baggage to the new team: Dick's concern over living up to the legend of the Batman. Bruce Wayne, after all, was a self-made hero; after the murder of his parents, he'd had to train and develop his skills without moral support, just his own relentless determination.

Dick, on the other hand, had the Batman to train him and help him deal with the deaths of his parents. Naturally, Dick's personality would be less driven than Bruce's. That would make it more difficult for Dick's Batman to be as hard-edged as the original Masked Manhunter. Given these differences in approach, I can even see a time when Batman II would resent the senior Batman horning in on the new team's cases. ("Please, Bruce, let me handle this my way!")

Constantly dropping Kathy Kane out was okay; sometimes she just wasn't around to be Batwoman. 

I was just as glad to see Batwoman left out of the Second Team series, myself.  With regards to her and Bat-Girl, and Batgirl, for that matter, I agreed with Julius Schwartz; I found them superfluous, serving only to dilute the core concept of a man using the motif of a bat as part of his war against all crime and evil.

With regards to a Superman, Jr.-Batman, Jr. team-up, it's a curious coïncidence that both you and Philip Portelli bring up World's Finest Comics # 154 (Dec., 1965), given the subject of my upcoming Entry for this month.  You see, Mort Weisinger was more involved with the Bat-mythos than most fans realise, until they think on it.

Great analysis as always, Commander! Keep up the good work!

As always, my friend, thank you for the high praise!

Superman #131's "Superman's Secret Wife" has Lois see Superman's married future but the running gag is that she never sees the woman's face (blocked by Superman, reading a newspaper, dressed for a costume party, etc.) so she's never sure if it's her or not.

Richard Willis said:

Eric L. Sofer said:

Robin II was obvious; he hadn't trained and studied quite well enough at that point to be fully Robin, which made Dick's concerns accurate.

To me, this means that Bruce and Kathy's son shouldn't have been in costume until he was fully trained.

It was unusual that two people with black hair would produce a child with red hair; if they both had a recessive gene for red hair, they could. Also, in the U.S. red hair is not common, which would seem to point a finger at Robin II's secret identity. In The Flash, when red-headed Kid Flash got his new hair- exposing costume they came up with a trick. They disguised his red hair as brown (with a gas!) in the costume's second or third appearance. 

Philip Portelli said:

Here Lois is the Wife of Steel though in Superman #166, Superman's wife is an unnamed, extremely shy woman!

I remember that a trick used a few times had "Mrs Superman" as a shadowy silhouette. The silhouette, however, always seemed to have the perfect shape of Lois' head and hairstyle.

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