Silver Sightings: Batman's Silver Age: What Took So Long?

Beyond Commander Benson's examination of Batman's "New Look" period which began in 1964, I was always puzzled that the Caped Crusader was so behind the times as far as his Silver Age "entry" in Detective Comics #327 (Ju'64). View the cover of Detective #326 and #327 and Batman #163 and #164 below. They are a month apart but could be years apart for all anyone might know!

The Silver Age proper began with Showcase #4 (O'56) with the revised Flash and it took three years until Flash #105 in 1959. By that time, we saw the debut of the new Green Lantern, changes in Aquaman and Green Arrow and Superman evolve throughout that time with the introduction of Supergirl, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Bizarro and other elements into his mythos.

Yes it could be said of Batman as well with Batwoman, Bat-Hound and Bat-Mite but they corresponded, more or less, to the additions of Superman and were not innovative to the character.

But by 1964, we had the Justice League, Adam Strange, the Atom, Hawkman, Metal Men and Doom Patrol. Lois Lane got her own title. None of the new Bat-spinoffs did. Batman was being left behind despite appearing in both World's Finest Comics and Justice League of America. Indeed, Batman was already "revised" by being in those titles. Yet his own books were hardly on the same level, being stuck as they were in the 1950s. Truth be told, I enjoyed the reprints on those 50s tales but I was given the best of them to read.

So why the five-year wait to something different with Batman? They made changes to Superman albeit not artistically though you could see a maturation to Curt Swan's work. 

When Julius Schwartz began a new age of Super-Heroes in 1956, the higher-ups at DC/National were not convinced. That's why it took the Flash three more tryouts in Showcase (#8, #13, #14) to achieve his solo book again. When he did, Mort Weisinger didn't want Superman to appear staid and boring so he and his writers contrive to introduce something new to the various Super-titles every six months or so to see what was successful or not. But they always could be easily dropped.

With Batman, perhaps they did not want to make such drastic changes to their Number Two Guy. If all these new titles bombed, at least Batman stayed the same, a comforting constant to their readers! But with the stunning books coming out of DC in the early 60s, sales on Batman and especially Detective were getting dangerously low. Rumor had it that Detective might get cancelled! Finally the Caped Crusaders replaced his sci-fi alien adventures and his copycat supporting cast and gained a yellow oval on his chest and more cerebral stories fitting the Darknight Detective!

Could anyone see them doing a TV series based on the Pre-New Look Batman? And did that thematic changes help pave the way for Teen Titans? And if there was no change, would Batman have become DC's Ant-Man?

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Although she played a teenager (I think), Kathy Garver was in her 20s when Family Affair began

And where would 1960s TV have been without Carolyn Jones

Mr. Silver Age said:

. . .  but it's way closer to the topic than when [Ann-Margret] usually shows up here, and I do love a tradition.

Especially given the fact that she showed up on a Silver-age cover (or, at least, Gene Colan wanted her to) . . . 


And, of course

I'm not sure Super-Hip's ROG was supposed to be an AM tribute, but I say play on. Ann-Margrock clearly was, but she's not quite in the same category as the flesh and blood options.

Thanks also for the AM comic cover, Commander. It's a topic we've discussed before, of course, but it's always worth reviving.

Good call on Morticia, Dave. When I look up "slinky" in the dictionary, she's the picture I see. It's a great dictionary. .

-- MSA

"Altogether ooky" apparently has a very flexible definition.

Ann-Margret turns up lots of places.

Mr. Silver Age said:

Thank you, Commander, I knew she'd show up sooner or later (sooner if Hoy wasn't off on vacation just now, I'm sure). She's clearly off-topic, as she wasn't a TV vixen, but it's way closer to the topic than when she usually shows up here, and I do love a tradition.

As to the TV group, I'd include Samantha Stevens, Ellie Mae and Laura Petrie. Probably Emma Peel and Agent 99, as well as Honey West, for those of us who were the right age and were paying attention. I know I was.

Needless to say, Catwoman doesn't need to even be mentioned to be right at the top..

-- MSA


That is sadly an episode of MST3K I missed. Do you know the movie? Not that I want to immediately track down a copy of a movie with AM in possibly only a towel or two. I'm just curious for historical purposes.

-- MSA

The only Ann-Margaret film on MST3K that I can recall was Kitten With a Whip.

And let's not forget the lovely Judy Robinson!

Also, I was focusing on the sci-fi/fantasy/adventure show gals from the 60s that I forgot about the sitcoms! 

I just read an article on The Dick Van Dyke Show in Retrofan where Mary Tyler Moore's Laura Petrie caused some controversary as she was deemed too hot to be a mother! How times have changed!

Ah, yes, that could be the legendary KWAW. I'll have to check. I'd noted MTM in my additions. I can see that those scenes where Laura was dancing in her capris may have attracted some attention. Fortunately, they had separate beds so they got some sleep.

-- MSA

See here.

Mr. Silver Age said:

Ah, yes, that could be the legendary KWAW. I'll have to check. I'd noted MTM in my additions. I can see that those scenes where Laura was dancing in her capris may have attracted some attention. Fortunately, they had separate beds so they got some sleep.

-- MSA

Fred W. Hill said:

FF #1 definitely had two distinct stories -- the origin, then the clash with the Mole Man.

I see it that way too, but the FF meet at the start for the Mole Man mission, so technically the origin sequence is a flashback in a Mole Man adventure. But that's a quibble, and the "meet the Mole Man!" title is placed after the origin.

The meet up section's real purpose is to introduce the characters. It runs more pages than the origin sequence proper, as that's only six pages. The Atlas issue of 1st Issue Special has a similar structure - an intro sequence followed by an explanatory flashback - but there, to my mind, the intro sequence is a bore, whereas the one in Fantastic Four #1 is intriguing. 

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