Monday, February 4, 2019


Didn't see this one coming, did you?!

Several months ago, when I was trying to figure out what to read after I finished with Superman and Wonder Woman, I had every intention of returning to Marvel -- most likely doing something involving the Avengers. But then, as the final months of the year progressed, I found myself in a pretty major Batman mood. Probably due to the arrival of the Animated Series on Blu-Ray, I suppose. But in any case, I figured I might as well keep the DC train rolling and, with Superman and Wonder Woman out of the way, take a look at the Caped Crusader next.

This will be different from most of the other review projects I've tackled in the past. I'm not looking at a specific "run" of Batman. Nothing by a set creative team or in an uninterrupted sequence. Instead, we're going to call this project "Batman in the Seventies" -- because the Bronze Age is my personal favorite era for Batman. Not as silly as the stuff from the fifties and sixties, not as grim as the stuff from the eighties and beyond... the seventies Batman sits right in the middle as a Darknight Detective who is still human; still capable of tossing out a one-liner or cracking a smile, and who seems like a generally well-adjusted member of society.

We'll begin one week from today with "One Bullet Too Many" from BATMAN #217 -- the December 1969 installment. From there, we'll leapfrog through the decade, using stories from my various Batman collected editions along the way. This is, I suppose, a "curated" look at Bronze Age Batman -- for, while there's a lot of great stuff for the character in the seventies, there's a good amount of dreck, too.

So -- we've got Frank Robbins! Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams! We've got Len Wein, Archie Goodwin, Jim Aparo, Steve Englehart, and Marshall Rogers! And, as recurring mainstays through all of it, we've got Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. That's a lot of talent, and there are a lot of good stories coming up -- though I should admit now that I have no idea exactly how long this project will take, since I'm not a hundred percent certain of all the stories I intend to cover.

For those interested in such things, I'll be using the following books in this project. Not all are still in print, but I've provided Amazon links for those that are, or which can be bought cheap in the secondhand marketplace:


...And the above will be supplemented only a handful of times by stories from the black-and-white SHOWCASE PRESENTS BATMAN vol. 5 and vol. 6, as well as a few single issues bought from Comixology.

Lastly, I should add that this is not meant to be a comprehensive look at the best Batman stories of the seventies. It is, strictly speaking, a reading of tales to which I have easy access via the above books. For the most part, the Bronze Age stories acknowledged for their greatness are collected in these volumes, but there will certainly be some missing.

So -- as noted above, we'll start on Monday with BATMAN #217. I hope you'll be along for the ride!


  1. I'm really looking forward to this. Seventies Batman always seems like the beau ideal of Batmen to me, in no small part because it was essentially the model for the animated series Batman of the early '90's, my introduction to the character. The Denny O'Neil version, especially, feels classic to me, and the short Englehart/Rogers run is as close as it gets to what I consider a truly definitive Batman. I'll be following along with this eagerly.

    1. Thanks, I'm glad you'll be reading along! I think a large part of my enjoyment of this era of Batman comes from The Animated Series, same as you. I don't remember when it clicked for me that the show was so heavily influenced by this decade -- I knew certain aspects of it came from the 70s of course, like Robin away at college -- but a few years back I really thought it over and figured out that the status quo, most of the episodes that were adapted from issues, and even a lot of the freelance writers on the show all had their roots in this period.

    2. Yeah, it's surely no coincidence that Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Dennis O'Neil, Marty Pasko, et. al. were tapped to write episodes for the show. Even beyond that, it strikes me that the attitude and character of Batman is largely modeled on this era: serious and free of camp, but not as relentlessly tortured or grim as he would become in the post-Frank Miller era. It's a Batman who doesn't crack a joke while on a case, but is perfectly capable of giving a wry smile when Robin does.

    3. Totally true -- the Batman of TAS is maybe a bit more serious/brooding than the Batman of the 70s, but not by much. It basically is the same guy. There were a few things I didn't love about the NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES era, and while the character redesigns are way at the top of the list, the "grimmening" of Batman would rank pretty high, too. He became way more serious in those episodes, for the most part. Fortunately, he lightened up again in JUSTICE LEAGUE!

    4. Hmm… I loved the character redesigns on The New Batman Adventures — except for Joker looking too drab without the red lips.

    5. I suppose I should fine-tune my statement on the NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES designs. There are some I like, such as making the Penguin resemble his classic comic appearance rather than the Danny DeVito version from BATMAN RETURNS -- and Batgirl in the black outfit looks better to me than gray.

      There were also some which were so minimally altered that it's hard to say I like one or the other better -- Two-Face and Harley Quinn, for example, or Alfred or Harvey Bullock (though even in those cases, I lean more toward the B:TAS looks).

      But there were more that I disliked than not. I've never liked Batman without the yellow oval, even though I'm pretty sure at this point, overall he's been without it far longer than the period he had it. I also prefer the B:TAS version with the blue highlights on the cape. I don't like Batman with a solid blue cape, but I don't like when it's solid black (or even black with gray highlights), either. Black with restrained blue highlights is my sweet spot for the cape.

      I didn't like Gordon's redesign -- the beefy barrel-chested version from B:TAS may not have been true to the comics, but I liked it and I thought the TNBA design looked way too decrepit. I also disliked the removal of all the green from Robin's costume.

      With regards to the Joker, I didn't like the lack of red lips, but more than that, I hated what they did to his eyes -- and as with Robin's lack of green, the removal of all the yellow from Joker made him look wrong to me.

      Even though they barely used him, I downright hated the Riddler in spandex (and again, I know that was his classic look, but the suit -- which I believe was devised for the TV show because John Astin wouldn't wear tights for his fill-in episode -- is so much classier). I believe Timm said that redesign, which included something resembling mascara, was inspired by A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, which I totally see -- and totally dislike.

      I don't deny part of is nostalgia -- B:TAS premiered when I was in 7th grade, while TNBA started when I was just entering college -- but even when I try to look at them objectively, I just feel like the original designs have way more personality.

      (Plus, while TNBA generally had more consistently good animation, I feel like the B:TAS designs looked better on the screen, in motion. To my eye, they were way more fluid and expressive -- at least when done by the better studios in the show's stable.)

      Anyway, that's way more of a response than I'm sure you wanted, but as you can tell, I have strong feelings on the subject!

  2. Nifty! I have several of those books and love this era of Batman too. Part of that’s pure nostalgia, the mid to late ’70s being my own personal Golden Age of Comics; part is just an appreciation of the quality material and general mood / portrayal of the character. I started reading your post-Crisis Superman and Wonder Woman series, always behind, finally realizing that I just had too many other demands on my time, but hopefully I can keep up with this one.

    1. Thanks, Blam! I understand how easy it is to fall behind, so I'm happy you'll try to follow along with this one.


  3. Starting your New Teen Titans series belatedly revealed to me how frustrating it is to jump in after the fact — I got a bit paralyzed by not wanting to spend time writing a comment that would be redundant to discussions on later posts but couldn’t effectively jot down brief notes to return to if desired. A look at the post-Crisis Superman and Wonder Woman stuff had me in the same boat, on top of which it was really tempting to read the material and I’m reckoning with a big time squeeze right now. So I’ll do my best to follow along with this series even as that pitfall likely doesn’t apply so much here because it’s not one particular unbroken run.