The Dark Knight Archives Volume 8

DC Comics, $59.99, 248 pages

Writers and artists: Various

Reprinting Batman #32-37 (Jan-Nov 46)

There's not a lot to add here that hasn't been said in previous reviews. Batman and Robin have settled into a groove by 1946 that will carry the strip, in both Batman and Detective, into the mid-1950s. In that sense, one Archives from this period is very much like another.

I will mention that it's a continuing annoyance that DC's Batman Archives collects Detective, so the Archives collecting Batman has to be called something else -- the Dark Knight Archives. That's just stupid, and I will continue to call it stupid as long as it pertains.

One other thing that struck me was that whatever criteria DC was using to select its cover concepts, they elude me. For example, The Joker is cover featured on issue #37, as well he should be. But there's a Joker story in issue #32 -- and the cover has B&R walking hand in hand with D'Artagnan (from another story inside). Really? A Musketeer is going to sell better than The Joker? And there's also an "untold story" of Robin's origin in the issue, which could have made a snazzy cover. But, no, we get a guy in a poofy hat.

This isn't an aberration. Issue #33 has a Penguin story, but the cover is a generic holiday scene. Issue #35 has a Catwoman story AND the story with giant robot dinosaurs that contributed the familiar trophy in the Batcave, but the cover is of the third story in the book -- the least interesting, and one that puts Dick Grayson in civvies. Wait, a hot chick and dinosaurs are beaten by Grayson at a typewriter as an idea to sell comic books to boys? Seriously? Finally, issue #38 gives us another Penguin story, but once again the Felonius Fowl is bumped off the cover by another time-travel adventure (to King Arthur times). OK, in the last case, I can see it -- a knight in armor is more visually interesting than The Penguin. But if The Penguin is so boring (and he is), why keep writing stories about him?

Clearly DC had a formula at the time for cover selection that I don't understand. It resulted in generic images more than interesting ones, which I guess someone thought was good. And who knows? Maybe that sold like gangbusters 70 years ago.

Other last thoughts: Every collection I read from the 1940s and 1950s that involves hospitals, including this one, has radium at the center of it, because it's expensive and crooks want to steal it. It makes me wonder just what radium was used for, and what's replaced it in the medical field. And, with all these stories about it, I also wonder just how many times radium was stolen from a hospital. (I'm guessing "never.") Anyway, just a thought.

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The Three Musketeers cover on #32 is supposed to evoke imagery of the musketeers strolling along together, with Batman and Robin standing in for two of the musketeers. My recollection is the 1948 film ends with an image like this; I was just watching a clip with a similar image from the 1939 Ritz Brothers version. Granted, I don't think either of these sequences had the musketeers strolling arm in arm, and those scenes had four rather than three musketeers, but close enough. (The #32 cover predates the 1948 film, of course, but the latter may have copied the imagery of an earlier film version.)

 

I'd distinguish covers like the #31 one, which are connected to a story, from non-story covers like the Christmas one on #33 and the car chase one on #34. It looks to me like DC was moving away from the latter type at this point; there were further examples on #39 and #45, but after that they stopped appearing. Conversely the Three Musketeers cover was the first story-connected one since the chariot race cover on #24. That had illustrated the first of the time travel stories, in which the duo travelled to ancient Rome. The musketeers one was apparently the second.

Thanks, Luke!

The Christmas cover was sort-of connected to a story, in that there was a story inside with multiple Santa Clauses (which would have made a much better cover). My guess is that the cover was done first, knowing that the book was going to come out near Christmas, so the stories inside weren't a factor -- and the Santa Claus story was coincidental, after a fashion.

Was the D'Artagnon on that cover the same character as appeared in Morrison's Club of Heroes story?

The  "Batmen of All Nations/ Club of Heroes" characters first appeared in the Batman story in Detective Comics #215 and returned in the Superman/Batman story in World's Finest Comics #89 (where some of them can also be seen on the cover, in the background). The Three Musketeers story featured on the Batman #32 cover was one of a series of stories in which Batman and Robin had adventures in the past (or seemed to, as the stories left open the possibility that they had only seemed to experience the past ages through hypnotism).

When I wrote #31 in my response to the Captain I meant #32. The #31 cover was a generic one.

The Commander addressed Professor Nichols once. I think it started out as hypnotism, then somehow became real time travel, and eventually they introduced the "Time-Ray Machine." Because, you know: Rays. They do things, those rays.

They are almost as versatile as radiation!

Captain Comics said:

The Commander addressed Professor Nichols once. I think it started out as hypnotism, then somehow became real time travel, and eventually they introduced the "Time-Ray Machine." Because, you know: Rays. They do things, those rays.

Also: Radium. It's magic!

And inticingly valuable!

 

Here a Wikipedia link on Radium. The Curie's discovered it and died from it. It says the Radon Gas it emits was used in the 20s and 30s to treat cancers. The glow-in-the-dark watch faces were painted with it until the people doing the painting contracted cancer and sued.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radium

Captain Comics said:

Also: Radium. It's magic!

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