Batman Swoops Down

I had long promised Batman posts: here is the second, which celebrates Batman as I first knew the character, in my early childhood. I was born in 1963 so I was a pre-schooler when the Adam West show was first broadcast in Scotland. My  memories of Batman from that time also inlude the newpaper strips reprinted as the covers of the weekly Smash! comic; the text stories in TV Tornado and assorted toys and novelties:

batcraft

Around 1967/68, I had a press-out book of cardboard characters, including a gun-toting snowman villain.

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I was also given this board game:

 batman-swoops-down

batman-swoops-down-game

My cousin Jim’s comic collection was handed down to me when he went to  High School in Galston in the early Seventies. it was a trove of obscure DC characters like Mark Merlin, Prince Ra-Man and Space Ranger- and the Computo issues of Adventure starring my beloved Legion of Super-Heroes. Somewhere in one of those seven-or-eight year old comics, I glimpsed an ad for Batman 176. There were four of the images from Batman Swoops Down!

80pagegiant

I recently added this comic to my collection and it’s the oldest Batman giant I own. It’s also a very entertaining  glimpse of Batman prior to the Silver Age.

Parasols of Plunder: the Penguin takes over a factory and tries to trick Batman into endorsing his umbrellas, This comical battle of wits is such a refreshing change from modern Batman’s obsession with torture and psychological horror.

The Fox, the Shark and the Vulture: the debut of the Terrible Trio, a gang of criminal inventors. Their striking appearance has seen them revived in animated Batman adventures. The diagram of their lighthouse lair is another element kids would like,

Ice Crimes of Mr. Zero: The human icicle appears to be cured by a blast from cracked steam pipes at the conclusion of this story. Like his tv incarnation, he has unusual eyebrows and prominent eyes. I wonder why he was renamed Mr. Freeze? it seems it took television to lunch the career of this strictly minor foe.

Catwoman Syndicated Story: reprints of a newpaper strip in which the Princess of Plunder defies Batman in a nationwide chase by train, plane and paddle steamer. Bizarrely, Robin disguises himself as “mischievous little girl, Lulu Belle”. The good Catwoman stories will feature in a future giant and a future post. 

Caveman at Large: a deranged actor believes himself to be Goth, Slayer of Beasts. An amusing Harryhausen-style twist on the “Trapped in the Batcave” theme.

Challenge of the Calendar Man: while nowadays yet another Hannibal Lecter type, Julian Day models seasonal costumes here: a floral costume for spring and most interestingly for me, that snowman suit. In the conclusion, he’s revealed to be a stage magician.

The Joker’s Utility Belt: a fun and gimmicky story; the schematic reveals sneezing powder,a  hand buzzer and exploding cigarettes among the devices used by the Crown Prince of Crime. In the conclsuion, the Joker is appointed foreman in the prosion belt factory. Holy irony! 

I’d certainly include the Calendar Man and Terrible Trio stories if I were compiling a collection of pre-New Look Bat adventures. Shortly, we’ll look at my first-ever Sixties 80-page giant,which featured Robin. I also plan to look at Bronze Age Batman and Mike Allred’s work on Batman 66.

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners.

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One comment on “Batman Swoops Down

  1. Kid Robson says:

    These Batman Giants were something else. Did you get the DC Comics Classics Library volume reprinting the first three Batman Annuals? It’s one for the collection, to be sure.

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