Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Guide To Golden Age Robin Reprints

Holy sidekicks, Batman!  At least, that's what people think about when they think about Robin.

True, the Tim Drake version of Robin has had his own DC series, as has Dick Grayson, the original Robin (though his has been as Nightwing and as Grayson).

But, in the 1940s and 1950s, Robin did indeed branch away from the Batman for a time, with his own solo series (occasionally guest-starring Batman, especially towards the end, and even Commissioner Gordon and their butler, Alfred Beagle, as he was called in the Golden Age), in Star-Spangled Comics #65 (February, 1947) to Star-Spangled Comics #130 (July, 1952), and being on covers from the beginning of his run until Star-Spangled Comics #95 (August, 1949), with covers of Revolutionary War hero Tomahawk and then ghost-buster Dr. 13 until the title's end.

But, you don't have to be the world's greatest detective to find these stories, as where to find them in reprints is detailed below!

The first of Robin's tales to be solo reprinted in from Star-Spangled Comics #70 (July, 1947), with the "Clocks of Doom" by writer Bill Finger, penciller J. Winslow Mortimer and inker Charles Paris.  This deals with Robin first facing a villain all his own, the clock, as he tries to help students filming for a school project who accidentally filmed a crime!

This story was reprinted in the Batman in the 1940s tradepaperback of 2004, along with Robin's first appearance from Detective Comics #38 (April, 1940) and many other Golden Age Batman stories featuring Joker, the original acting Clayface and even Two-Face, all guaranteed to make you smile!

Next up is a small run of Robin reprints, all collected in the same place.

The first story is Star-Spangled Comics #82, (July, 1948) and "The Boy Who Hated Robin" by artist Jim Mooney (though, as done at the time, credited to Bob Kane).  This story has Robin meet Petey Downs while helping out at a camp for Gotham's underprivileged youth.  The second story is Star-Spangled Comics #86 (November, 1948) with Robin facing off against 3 of "The Barton Brothers" after they shoot and injure Batman, in this tale pencilled by Jim Mooney and inked by J. Winslow Mortimer. Last of the three collected in one spot is Star-Spangled Comics #103 (April, 1950) with art by Jim Mooney  and the story of "Roberta, The Girl Wonder" (who was really Mary Wills, a classmate of Dick Grayson's who became infatuated with Robin, and came up with her own costumed identity to meet the Boy Wonder, and they face off against Spider Vorn!).

These three tales were collected in the Robin The Boy Wonder A Celebration of 75 Years collection of 2015 (along with many tales of many Robins!).

Another solo Robin reprint comes from Star-Spangled Comics #111 (December, 1950) with "Dick Grayson, Detective" in a story by David V. Reed and art by Jim Mooney, with Robin's alter ego of Dick Grayson doing the crime solving at Gotham High!

Appropriately, this story is reprinted in Detective Comics #444 (December-January, 1974-1975), under a cover by Jim Aparo (which also features the beginnings of an epic Batman/Ra's Al Ghul battle as Batman kills Ra's daughter, Talia), and other reprints including Roy Raymond, Kid Eternity and Star Hawkins as well as a new story of the Elongated Man!

Served next is the story of Star-Spangled Comics #120 (September, 1951) with "The Bellboy Wonder" likely by writer John Broome and art by Jim Mooney, with Robin going undercover as a bellboy to prevent the murder of a political figure at a world conference.

This story is reprinted in World's Finest Comics #193 (May, 1970) under a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, with Superman and Batman in trouble all on their own...

....guess the World's Finest team still needed to keep Robin on board!

There is a return in Star-Spangled Comics #123 (December, 1951), and it's when "Crazy-Quilt Comes Back", in a story by France Herron with art by Jim Mooney, where the villain comes to face Robin (Crazy-Quilt was originally a foe of the Boy Commandos, first appearing in Boy Commandos #15 in June of 1946, but he then seemed to transfer his hate over to Batman's junior partner).

This story was reprinted in Batman #255 (March-April, 1974) with a cover by Neal Adams and Nick Cardy, with a great Batman vs. werewolf new story, and a few great reprints within, including the story of how Bruce Wayne's father was "The First Batman"!

Star-Spangled Comics #124 (January, 1952) has the solo Robin story of "Operation: Escape" by artist Jim Mooney, with Robin giving a lecture to Gotham City Police cadets about how he used ordinary, average items to escape a death trap and challenges you to figure out what he did...

This story was reprinted in Batman #199 (February, 1968) under a Carmine Infantino/Murphy Anderson cover that shows Batman might need that comic instead, and it was also reprinted in the Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told Hard Cover of November, 1988 and softcover of June, 1989.

Robin faces "Murder On The Chess Board" in Star-Spangled Comics #125 (February, 1952), with story by David Vern and art by Jim Mooney, in a story which may have been checkmate for Alfred, as it is the last listed Golden Age appearance of Alfred Beagle (at least until Superman Family and the Huntress back-up in Wonder Woman deal with the Earth-2's butler of Batman!).  

This tale is reprinted in World's Finest Comics #190 (December, 1969), which features one of the last times Robin worked as a part of the World's Finest team (and they needed the help)...

....all under a Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson cover.

Robin faced "Danger In The Hall Of Trophies" in Star-Spangled Comics #126 (March, 1952) in a story by David Vern with art by .Jim Mooney, with Robin and Commissioner Gordon dealing with a French criminal who is pretending to be a detective to get into the Batcave.

This story was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #192 (March, 1970), with another incredible Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson cover (and the first part to the story mentioned a little bit above....proving what lousy luck Superman and Batman have without Robin!).

Robin faces "The Game Of Death" in Star-Spangled Comics #127 (April, 1952) by writer David V. Reed and artist Jim Mooney in a story of life or death for Batman and Robin (but, when aren't they?).

This tale is reprinted in Batman #213 (July-August, 1969) in an issue focused on Robin, under a cover by artist Bill Draut and inked by Vince Coletta.  This issue also reprints the first appearance of Alfred and of the villains, the Red Hood and the shape-changing Clayface, as well as including an updated origin for Robin!  (For those that keep track of these things, this is the Earth-1 Robin origin, differentiating between the original Robin who was on Earth-2, and the Robin who later helped formed the Teen Titans, the one from Earth-1).

Robin's next mostly solo story is in Star-Spangled Comics #128 (May, 1952) facing "The Man Called 50-50" by writer David Vern and artist Jim Mooney (and this is as good a place as any to reveal that writer David Vern and David V. Reed are one in the same!).  This had a villain called 50-50, who seemed to look like Two-Face (but wasn't....) and Robin had to take a chance to beat this foe as Batman was busy.

This is reprinted in Brave and the Bold #76 (February-March, 1968) under a cover drawn by Neal Adams, and featuring a two heroes, Batman and Plastic Man.

Last, but not least, for the Robin who would grow up and join the Justice Society, is Star-Spangled Comics #130 (July, 1952) with the "Stone-Deaf Robin" in a story by David V. Reed and art by Jim Mooney

This tale is reprinted in World's Finest Comics #191 (February, 1970), with a cover by Curt Swan and Jack Abel, that has Superman and Batman facing off against Superman's parents of Jor-El and Lara...proving that parents can be killers!

After this issue, Robin went back to only appearing with Batman in Batman, Detective Comics and World's Finest Comics, and Star-Spangled Comics became Star-Spangled War Stories, starting with #131 in August, 1952, and focused on war stories.

Still, there are more Star-Spangled Comics Robin reprints.

Robin Archives #1 came out in August, 2005 and featured Star-Spangled Comics #65 (February, 1947) to Star-Spangled Comics #85 (October, 1948), and contains many battles with the Clock, as well as one-timers like No-Face and the Fence, and even a little time travel with Carter Nichols!

Robin Archives #2 arrived in March of 2010, and featured Star-Spangled Comics #86 (November, 1948)  to Star-Spangled Comics #105 (June, 1950), with one last shot of the Clock, as well as one-time villains like George Midas, started to have more appearances of Batman, and even an appearance by Batman's girlfriend, Vicki Vale!

Let's hope DC will at least gather together the last of Robin's solo Star-Spangled Comics career in some collection.

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