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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Mr. Silver Age said:

I would've hated to miss out on Batgirl...

-- MSA

Yvonne Craig made the 10-year-old Captain feel funny.

She made my turbines to speed! 

Where would you guys rank her among 60s TV beauties?



Captain Comics said:

Mr. Silver Age said:

I would've hated to miss out on Batgirl...

-- MSA

Yvonne Craig made the 10-year-old Captain feel funny.

Marvel was slower to commit itself to book-length stories than one might think. The early issues of Fantastic Four were divided into chapters, and so were the first issues of Incredible Hulk. One might quibble over whether Fantastic Four #1 has one story or two. Incredible Hulk #3 had two stories and a short retelling of the origin, and #4-#5 had two stories. 

"Thor", "Ant-Man" the Torch's solo feature and "Iron Man" were all introduced into existing titles and initially backed by two non-series stories. "Spider-Man"'s debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 was backed by three, and Amazing Spider-Man #1-#2 both had two stories.

"Dr Strange" first appeared in the back of Strange Tales #110-#111 (1963), but these issues still had a third, non-series story. The next two issues both had two non-series back-ups. It was when the feature resumed that the title went to a two-features format. This was just over a year after the debuts of "Thor", "Ant-Man" and "Spider-Man".

At the same point Marvel began to experiment with switching the other titles to a two-stories format and added "Tales of Asgard" to Journey into Mystery, but it didn't finally abandon the three-stories format in these titles until 1964. Tales to Astonish dropped the use of a third item in #55, JiM in #105, Tales of Suspense in #56 (but while #55 had three items, two were Iron Man ones).

The Wasp and Watcher stories of this period were sometimes adventures featuring the character, but more often stories they related. They were replaced later in 1964 by the new Hulk and Captain America features, which appeared from the start as co-features.

Checking, I find six of the ten "Tales of the Watcher" stories from Tales of Suspense were about the Watcher, counting the origin. The feature was revived as a storytelling feature in Silver Surfer late in the decade. These retold stories from earlier in the Silver Age. #1 retold the origin. Jeff wrote about their sources here.

FF #1 definitely had two distinct stories -- the origin, then the clash with the Mole Man.  Issue 2, while still divided into distinct chapters, was really one story in several parts as were most issues over the next year or so, with #11 being the only one I'm aware of divided into two distinct stories.  I think it was by late '63 or early '64 that Lee mostly dropped the practice of having one issue length story divided into several chapters.  Seems the divisions were a holdover from the days when most comics had several distinct stories of 5 to 8 pages, and Lee stuck with it even when telling one issue-length story but by 1964 felt comfortable enough with dropping it, at least in the mags titled for the starring character or team.  But then they briefly brought back the practice when their regular mags went from 15 cents to a quarter but dropped it again when they went back down to 20 cents but used it again for some of their Giant-Size mags.

Luke Blanchard said:

Marvel was slower to commit itself to book-length stories than one might think. The early issues of Fantastic Four were divided into chapters, and so were the first issues of Incredible Hulk. One might quibble over whether Fantastic Four #1 has one story or two. Incredible Hulk #3 had two stories and a short retelling of the origin, and #4-#5 had two stories. 

"Thor", "Ant-Man" the Torch's solo feature and "Iron Man" were all introduced into existing titles and initially backed by two non-series stories. "Spider-Man"'s debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 was backed by three, and Amazing Spider-Man #1-#2 both had two stories.

"Dr Strange" first appeared in the back of Strange Tales #110-#111 (1963), but these issues still had a third, non-series story. The next two issues both had two non-series back-ups. It was when the feature resumed that the title went to two-features format. This was just over a year after the debut of "Thor", "Ant-Man" and "Spider-Man".

At the same point Marvel began to experiment with switching the other titles to a two-stories format and added "Tales of Asgard" to Journey into Mystery, but it didn't finally abandon the three-stories format until 1964. It was only with #105 that JiM dropped the use of a third, non-series item.

She'd be pretty high on my rankings, maybe just a close second to Barbara Eden.

Philip Portelli said:

She made my turbines to speed! 

Where would you guys rank her among 60s TV beauties?



Captain Comics said:

Mr. Silver Age said:

I would've hated to miss out on Batgirl...

-- MSA

Yvonne Craig made the 10-year-old Captain feel funny.

As Gilligan's Island taught us ... for every Mary Ann, there's a Ginger!



Philip Portelli said:

She made my turbines to speed! 

Where would you guys rank her among 60s TV beauties?



Captain Comics said:

Mr. Silver Age said:

I would've hated to miss out on Batgirl...

-- MSA

Yvonne Craig made the 10-year-old Captain feel funny.

Speaking of which ...



Doctor Hmmm? said:

As Gilligan's Island taught us ... for every Mary Ann, there's a Ginger!

Doctor Hmmm? said:

As Gilligan's Island taught us ... for every Mary Ann, there's a Ginger!

Speaking of gingers . . .

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

 

Here is another spy/secret agent we shouldn’t overlook

And

Pat Priest

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