Thursday, January 5, 2017

Batman Annual 1 of 1961

DC's second Annual of reprints, Batman Annual #1 from the summer of 1961 was a collection of important Batman stories detailing how to be the Batman (in fact that was the title of one of the stories), with features reprinted mostly from Detective Comics (though one from Batman did make it in)... readers of the early 1960s an incredible look back at the 1950s adventures of Batman and Robin all under a cover by Curt Swan, Sheldon Moldoff, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris.

Let's take a look at the tales contained here.....

Detective Comics #190

The Batman and Robin story of Detective Comics #190 (December, 1952) reprinted here teaches readers "How To Be The Batman", in a story by Bill Finger, Lew Schwartz and Stan Kaye (and an original cover by Win Mortimer, not included in the reprint....).

Batman and Robin face a foe that gave Batman amnesia, so Robin had to train Batman in being a crime-fighter (and recaps both his and Batman's origins in the process) as they work to capture the evil Dr. Sampson, and to restore the memories Batman and the other victims of the doctor!

Detective Comics #165

Next up, is the story of "The Strange Costumes Of Batman" from Detective Comics #165 (November, 1950) by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris (also under a Win Mortimer cover not fully included in the reprint).
This time around, Batman shows off how ready he is for any eventuality, with costumes designed for specific cases and crimes, such as an all-white costume for snow camouflage, a gold costume to face a man with the Midas touch, a glowing costume to prey on a criminal's superstition, a space suit so Batman could go into space, a compressible costume to allow Batman to hide it and go into action in prison, a scuba equipped costume to allow Batman to handle villains underwater, and a special, secret costume that they unveil in this issue to handle Dr. Robert Darcy!

Detective Comics #164

In DC's efforts to cover the Bat-Legend, Detective Comics #164 (October, 1950) by Lew Schwartz and Charles Paris (with no identified writer, all originally under a illuminating cover by Win Mortimer), readers are treated to the "Untold Tales Of The Bat-Signal".

City Editor Melton sends reporter Dave Purdy to see if there was a case where the Bat-Signal itself saved a life, and while talking to Commissioner Gordon, learns a little about the Bat-Signal, and becomes involved in a case with the Dynamic Duo, leading to the reporter getting the story he wanted, as well as being a part of his own story along with the Batman!

Detective Comics #205

"The Origin Of The Bat-Cave" was covered in Detective Comics #205 (March, 1954) by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris, under this cover by Win Mortimer (with the story being reprinted in the Annual).

This story doesn't quite match later accounts of Batman's origin, as it has an adult Bruce Wayne buying Wayne Manor, and finding the cave below (Bruce and his family usually had lived in the manor their whole lives in other origins), but this origin did have Batman and Robin travel back in time (using hypnosis from their friend, Prof. Carter Nichols) to the 1600s, where they meet Jeremy Coe, discovering his role in creating the Bat-Cave, as he saves settlers from attacking hordes of American Indians (and, Batman later has to substitute himself for the wounded Jeremy....).

Detective Comics #229

Originally titled "The 10,000 Secrets Of Batman" in Detective Comics #229 (March, 1956) by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris (with no identified writer, and a cover by Win Mortimer), this story was reprinted as "Batman's Electronic Crime-File".

Batman allowed a television crew into his Bat-Cave (something that would almost never happen later in Batman's career), and showed them his crime files (which, a criminal disguised as a crew member was able to steal).  Using the files, he was able to capture these criminals, (and one would hope be better at maintaining his own secrets, and the secrets of his extensive files in the future).

Detective Comics #221

When originally presented in Detective Comics #221 (July, 1955), this story was called "The Thousand-and-One Escapes Of Batman and Robin" (by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye, under a Win Mortimer cover), but the Annual saw it reprinted as the "Thrilling Escapes Of Batman and Robin" (likely some truth in advertising took affect here).

Batman and Robin get trapped by the King of Crime (Paul King), and relate stories of how they escaped from various traps other criminals put the Dynamic Duo in....all the while, getting ready to escape the most dynamic trap of all, one that the King himself had devised!

Batman #109

The only reprint from his own title in the first Annual was from Batman #109 (August, 1957), with Batman and Robin using "The 1,001 Inventions Of Batman", but the story by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris was re-titled "The Amazing Inventions Of Batman" for the Annual, as they didn't have quite 1001 in the story.

Batman and Robin use personal flying jets, a radar tracking Sleuth Machine, and a Flying Eye in the sky to catch criminals in Gotham (with the later two feeling very much like modern day drones.....).

Best of all, the first Batman Annual has been reprinted twice, in the Giant Batman Annual #1 Replica Edition of 1999, and in the DC Comics Library: The Batman Annuals #1 of 2009, including some special features not covered above....Batman's first seven Annuals (which actually came out from 1961 to 1964), collected old Batman stories from the 1950s (along with the Superman Annuals,         and Flash Annual)....paving the way for DC's 80 Page Giants!

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