Batman’s “Black Hats”

After a long weekend in Glasgow to see the International Art festival and a couple of plays at Oran Mor, I’m back in Moray. Today’s post continues to celebrate 75 years of Batman with a giant from February 1968. (Stories ranked numerically in terms of enjoyment)

Batman 198 cover

There hadn’t been an 80-pager since August 1967 which seems a long hiatus. It comes at a time when DC shed its Go-Go checks- the Camp Craze and the Spy Craze are both dying and the work of Neal Adams begins to proliferate. Here are a trio of  contemporaries:

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Shadow Lass meets the LSH for the first time

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My introduction to the Visi- sorry, Spectre

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My second encounter with the Junkheap Heroes- my favourite being Stan, the Golden Centurion.

This giant is billed as an all-villain issue which begins with the ur-Batman villain:

The Origin of the Batman: Joe Chill is killed by trigger-happy thugs in this dark story of revenge.This 1958 story evokes  the Golden Age more than the 1949 adventure that closes the collection. (5)

The Jungle Cat-Queen: The Princess of Plunder stars in a 1954 version of  “The Most Dangerous Game”. If you’ve never seen The Hounds of Zaroff (the 1932 movie based on that story), I recommend you do: it’s like Robert E. Howard brough to the screen.

B&R are trapped on a tropical island when Catwoman’s jet plane uses retractable steel claws to bring down the Batplane. There ensues an exciting manhunt that takes in a ruined temple, a waterfall and a killer gorilla. (1)

The Web of the Spinner: Batwoman guest stars for the first time in an 80-page giant since World’ Finest 161 in 1966 (“The Super-Batwoman”). It’s a minor role however, where Kathy Kane investigates a fake swami. If you can imagine it, the rotating Spinner is like a less-impressive version of The Human Top, Giant-Man’s archfoe. From 1960 (6)

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I first read this story in Batman Family 8 (in late 1976), which featured the Joker’s Daughter and her imposture as Catgirl.

The Man of 1,000 Umbrellas: Pengy has to pretend to be an honest citizen when he is visited by his domineering, elderly Aunt Miranda. A silly but cute syndicated story from 1946. (4)

The Crimes of Batman: The Joker kidnaps Robin to disgrace  Bats by forcing him to turn crooked. A more interesting idea for this 1952 tale than serial killing, to be sure. Of course,  the Caped Crsuader cleverly outwits the Joker at every turn. Joker wears a clown costume in one scene which is commemorated in the first “Composite Superman” story. I’ve always wondered why, being far more accustomed to the traditional purple morning suit ensemble. (3)

false face

The Menace of False Face: the contents page states ” You’ve seen him on …tv” and like The Clock (King), this 1958 crook was more striking on tv. The master disguise artist is unmasked as a ” nervous, frightened criminal”. Nowhere near as creepy as Malachi Throne, however. (7)

Gong02-I'll Show Those Inanimate Objects Who's the Boss

The Bandit of the Bells: obese grotesque Ed Peale rebels against the tyranny of bells and commits crimes based on his morbid hatred as…The Gong! Quirky fun with a crook more memorable than False Face. (2)

Coming soon: secrets of the Utility Belt

All images presumed copyright of their original owners

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