Monday, 15 August 2016


Images copyright DC COMICS

Was it really 33 years ago, in 1983, that I bought this comic?
Yeah, I guess it was - scary!  Look at the superb DON NEWTON
& ALFREDO ALCALA art - two of comicdom's finest who are,
alas, no longer with us.  This issue marked the 500th appearance
of The BATMAN in his debut mag, DETECTIVE COMICS,
and was an extra-long adventure as befitting the occasion.

This ish was also part of the run-up to a new ROBIN being
introduced - a rotten idea I thought, as I was never a fan of The
BOY WONDER.  The original is surely in his 20s in this issue, yet
he's still running about in a pair of green trunks with bare legs.  It's
no wonder (spot the pun) that FREDRIC WERTHAM harboured
those suspicions.  Batman always seemed more of a 'creature of
the night' on his own, and DC should've kept him that way.

Anyway, no doubt there'll be some disagreement on that view,
so feel free to leave a comment on the matter.  Or if you merely
want to share your own memories of this particular issue, then
your fellow Criv-ites eagerly await your interesting input.


Paul McScotty- Muir said...

This is the first time I have seen this comic the art looks amazing - Alcala was never anything less than excellent throughout his career in everything he did, but Don Newton, for me. started on a roll as one of comics best ever artist (and one of my all time favourites) on titles like the Phantom at Charlton and his early work at DC but then (for me ) his art dropped off from top tier to strong/ average (if that makes sense) on titles like Shazam , New Gods, Star Hunters etc etc - here its back to his top stuff = what a great team they make - I will be looking this one out for sure love the Joker.

Kid said...

Yes, Alcala's inks gave Newton's pencils that something extra, in the same way that Wood did with Kirby. The Batman stuff was excellent, moody and atmospheric, just as Bats should be. On to eBay with you, PM, and see if you can acquire this ish.

Graham said...

This was one of the last comics I bought back in the day. Nice one to go out on, from what I remember. I loved Don Newton's artwork dating back to the Phantom days. I had always hoped he would end up drawing Batman and was glad when it happened.

I never had a problem with Robin.....I mean, he was a bit annoying, but I could tolerate him when I was reading because he had gone off to college and wasn't around as much. I much preferred it when Batman was on his own.

Kid said...

I didn't mind Robin so much when he appeared in his own solo tales, G. It's just that, like you, I thought Batman worked better as a solitary figure. I can't recall if I've ever seen Newton's Phantom art - I'll have to track some down in order to check.

TC said...

I was OK with Batman & Robin as a team in the 1960's. In the Silver Age, Batman was just another costumed good guy, like Superman or the Flash. The comics had a much lighter tone than the grim vigilante image with which Batman had started in 1939. And the TV series was out-and-out parody (although the campy comedy mostly went over my head when I was seven).

In 1969-70, when the camp fad passed and the Batman returned to the scary Creature of the Night image, it made sense to write Robin out of the Batman strip, and to have each character go solo (there was a semi-regular Robin back-up strip in Detective Comics). What did not make sense, IMHO, was to bring them back together as partners in the early 1980's, then to write Dick Grayson out again (original Robin became Nightwing), then to bring in a new Robin, Jason Todd, then to kill him off, then replace him with yet another Robin, Tim Drake. I heard they somehow brought back Jason, but I had lost interest by then.

Detective Comics #526 is the conclusion of a serial that ran through Batman #358, Detective #525, and Batman #359. IIRC, it marked the first appearances of Jason Todd and Killer Croc.

The Newton & Alcala artwork was awesome. I also really liked Newton on the Shazam strip in World's Finest ca. 1980.

Kid said...

Yes, you're right about '60s (and '40s & '50s, I suppose) Batman, TC. Robin wasn't so out of place in the lighter-toned tales, but he stuck out like a sore thumb in the later, darker, stories. Can't remember if I saw the '80s Shazam issues, so that's another thing I need to check out. Alfredo Alcala inked a Kirby Destroyer Duck, and had JK been at the top of his game at the time, it would've been even better than it was. Sadly, Jack was in decline by then, but had Alfredo inked his FF or Thor - ah, now that would really have been something.

paul Mcscotty said...

Newtons work at Charlton (especially on the Phantom is excellent well worth seeking it out) Theres some of Don Newtons "Shazam" work on "Diversions of th Groovy Kind "at the moment

Kid said...

Ta, PM, took a look. Quite nice, but I prefer his work on Batman for some odd reason. More atmospheric perhaps, probably a quality that CM doesn't require so much.

John Pitt said...

I bought this one too and although I did like the art, the story never rang true to me that ALL of the villains would team together under Croc! Most of them are too insane!

Kid said...

Maybe being insane is exactly why they would team together under Croc, JP? After all, they're hardly rational. And the Joker obviously never followed that well-known advice 'never smile at a crocodile'.

Phil S said...

I've always been a fan of Robin I guess I'm just used to him. Batman and Robin were a team. Sure he's a kid with a questionable costume but it was a comic book. And they were written for kids. I've never been a fan of grown up Robin but that's the conundrum of comics. Change with no change. The hero must win but if there's no chance of him losing there's no excitement. We were kids when we read Batman and Robin. We grew up and he didn't.

Kid said...

Er, well, actually he DID, Phil - he became Nightwing.

John Pitt said...

He grew up even more! - last time I read a Batman comic, Dick was Batman, Robin was Bruce's son ( and a right annoying brat, at that! )
Bruce was dead, murdered by an organisation that included Bruce's father, who had not really been murdered when Bruce was a boy!!??
Figure that lot out!!

Kid said...

Noooooo!!! Too much of a headache, JP. It's probably all changed in the DC Rebirth mags anyway. Remember when we knew who was who and what was what? Those days are long gone.

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